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Missed opportunity

A funny thing happened on the way to the Javits Center here in New York earlier this month.

Thousands of consumers from the metropolitan New York area plunked down $20 a person to attend the Home Design Show sponsored by Chicago's Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. (MMPI) and Architectural Digest magazine. While this year's attendance wasn't tallied by the time this column was written, some 22,000 were at the debut event last year.

The second annual edition showcased some 70 diverse home furnishings suppliers with many marquee names in all product lines. Seminars and culinary demonstrations were popular.

But the singular activity was the popularity of the free half-hour consultation with some 30 metropolitan area interior designers. During the three-day event more than 400 consumers took advantage of the service, and a number actually signed on with specific designers for projects. In fact, on Saturday, the last day of the event, said Lisa Goodwin, director of marketing for the MMPI's Architects & Designers Building in New York, "We were so busy we had to turn away people who wanted appointments with the designers."

And a number of the exhibitors from the interior design community also had staff designers on tap to assist people who shopped their stands.

One interesting aspect of the show is the variety of channels of distribution participating. Retailers like the Kreiss Collection, interior designer showrooms like Baker, Kravet, Scalamandre and Stark, and manufacturers like Viking, Wood-Mode Cabinetry and Steinway all shared the same venue. As John Brennan II, executive vp of MMPI explained, "We're able to push business wherever the exhibitors and consumers want it.

"This year's show was up another notch from last year, and next year we'd like to expand to another day if we can get the hall. It's definitely something that works, and it provides a stimulus to the industry."

The interesting thing was that while there were a number of decorative fabrics exhibitors on hand, not one bed or bath supplier or retailer was in evidence.

What incredible exposure, and potential business, they missed. And all this without a single percent-off coupon.

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