Suppliers Satisfied with Less at High Point

Carole Sloan, April 21, 2008

Despite pre-market concerns about attendance and business prospects, many home textiles suppliers were pleasantly surprised with their results at the High Point Market here earlier this month.

The key to the positive results, several explained, was that despite the dour macro-economic influences and the sluggish state of the home furnishings business in general, those retailers that made the investment in time and money to come to market did so fully intending to buy. The overall result was that while attendance was noticeably down, the retailers attending were buying.

"It's not like any other show I go to; you never know what's going to happen," remarked Pamela Kline, head of Traditions by Pamela Kline. "Those who came were there on a mission — to buy; but a lot of people did not come." Kline pointed to the new Charlotte Moss collection and a group with jockeys and horses as the motif — a new consumer favorite — among market winners.

For Ann Gish, head of her namesake company, "There were a lot of good design firms here buying. There were a lot of the very high-end buying and furniture stores buying more moderate price points, as well as our regular customers."

Overall, Gish said, "I had a good market; I'm very pleased. I went in with apprehension with the economic news so bad."

While the smaller dealers didn't come, "the majors seemed to like what we were doing in price points and designs," said Mike Kehnast, national sales manager for Hallmart Collectibles. "We had a very, very good market although traffic clearly was down."

"It was OK. We lowered our expectations to the point that we are pleased with the results," is the way Richard Downing, president of Southern Textiles assessed the market. "We got the Paula Lanier Collection off well. We placed some orders, but it wasn't as aggressive a market as we're accustomed to."

Noting that orders "were smaller than normal," John Rose, president of Textillery, added, "Our regular customers maintained their commitment. Everyone's working harder; there were shorter stays and smaller groups. But overall we were happy, we're up significantly from last year … but that market wasn't great."

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