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Blurring the lines

Went to the Hotel, Motel, Restaurant Show in New York's Javits Center last week. Haven't been in a couple of years, but this visit was an eye-opener in a couple of ways.

Folks in the decorative fabrics and home textiles products industries have been talking for a number of years about how the residential and contract segments of the business are blurring in terms of design and fabrication.

And goodness knows, we've seen that at various shows — both for residential and contract.

Of course, Neocon in Chicago tells that story well, but the event here was no slouch in that regard. And Las Vegas is skewed toward hospitality especially with its name — Hospitality Design. But New York featured the whole nine yards — kitchen stuff, equipment, the down and dirty clean it up stuff.

But what stood out among the dozen or so fabric companies and home textiles manufacturer's products was the fact that you could have easily used most of the product in the home or in a hotel.

Among the fabric folks Robert Allen, Fabricut, Kravet, Samelson/ Chatelane, Covington, Richloom, P/Kaufmann, and Swavelle/ Mill Creek were all on hand.

But even more interesting were the number of bedding accessory suppliers in attendance — pillows, pads, etc. — as well as the specialty companies that design and make window treatments and bed coverings. Among the former were the likes of Phoenix Down, J. S. Fiber, Down Lite, and Pacific Coast Feather. And then the specialty firms like Bramson House, Kojo, Dallas Drapery, Milliken table linens, and Creative Bedding. Among the majors in mill land, only Fieldcrest/Cannon was seen.

And of course, as we march towards what seems to be inevitable governmental involvement in flammability issues for residential home furnishings, these lines of demarcation will become even more blurred.

There's good and bad to be said about the growing wave of governmental regulation about stuff we use in our homes. More on that later.

What is important is that there's a whole bunch of our key companies that have product knowledge that is transferrable from one segment to another in their markets.

It would be great if their managements recognized the potential of these synergies and exploited them more. And what a time the retail community could have in marketing them.

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