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Opportunity knocks

In case you folks out there haven't taken notice of what's going on just before this singular market begins, please wake up.

The things that are happening don't represent a flood of radical new ideas or new ways of doing business. Instead, they are the simple, little things that can help build a better structure for the home textiles industry — even in their formative stages.

Just think of this one. A major supplier player has knocked down by 75 percent the time it takes to show an item and ship it. What a radical concept — being able to ship something when the retailer still can remember what it was they bought.

Then there are the partnerships, and in these cases the word "partner" is obviously evident, unlike what transpires when a retailer elects to designate a supplier as a "partner."

When one supplier acknowledges that another has all the right stuff to produce a new product category to expand the first company's reach, and the two get together to make it happen, that is a true partnership. And several cases are taking place for this market.

As we've been discussing for months, if not years, that there is a big world of home textiles opportunity outside the top 10 or even the top 50 of home textiles land.

Anyone who doubts this should cast an eye on folks like Restoration Hardware, Home Depot and Domain, just to cite a few examples in our recent issues.

Many of these types of opportunities came about in the past because suppliers had sales reps that worked their territories to discover the new and up-and-coming.

The economies of scale and the perceived economy of the home textiles business has led to the belief that suppliers can do without reps. But who but these road warriors are going to find the newest Bed Bath or Anthropologie?

And then there's the ever-changing world of residential vs. contract market. Talking with the fabric and product exhibitors for the big show in Las Vegas next month, it's clear that the blurring of lines between "residential" product and "contract" product would challenge even the most knowledgeable.

And what with the pending actions by the CPSC and the California flammability standards, there may not be a difference at all down the road. Yet another opportunity.

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