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Anniversary a Hit for Las Vegas Market

Location Key as Suppliers Focus on Creating and Fostering West Coast Accounts

Las Vegas — The Las Vegas Market marked its first anniversary last week with its third semi-annual show, which featured a still small but expanded roster of home textiles exhibitors.

While several rug companies signed on to the World Market Center showroom building in the project's developmental phase, the bulk of the non-rug textiles suppliers exhibited at the Las Vegas Convention Center as part of Messe Frankfurt's Interior Lifestyles USA show-within-a-show.

Many home textiles exhibitors view Las Vegas as the conduit to new and existing accounts in the western United States, particularly independent boutiques, regional furniture stores, interior designers and hospitality.

“We've got a lot of major accounts on this end of the world,” said Steve Mazarakis, president, Hellenic Rugs. Hellenic displayed over 700 rugs last week.

First-time exhibitor Peacock Alley sees Las Vegas as an opportunity to show western accounts product that they missed seeing at the New York Gift Fair in February, and to provide a sneak peak at some patterns that will debut at the New York event in August.

“We really feel the Vegas show and the New York show draw different crowds,” said Stephanie Seidel, Peacock Alley territory manager for the Rocky Mountain region.

Melrose Home and its sister company, fabric maker Villa Nova, took a similar line regarding Vegas' potential as a fill-in show between the Showtime and High Point markets.

“We need exposure on the West Coast,” said Beatrice Macias, director of sales. “If [accounts] miss Showtime, they're not going to see our new product until they go to High Point — and it's months later.”

For Legacy Linen, Vegas gives its West Coast reps a venue for meeting with their customers, said Arthur Viente, director of sales. “For me, I think it will supplant shows like the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets, then maybe even Dallas.”

Elite Textile sells ready-made window treatments and window fabrics. It exhibited at last week's show to see what kinds of customers would turn out. “Our primary market is jobbers, but the world is changing,” said co-owner Arman Demir.

For luxury Italian linens manufacturer Signoria Firenze, the show buttresses the company's investment over the past two years in more West Coast representation. During the first half of opening day, West Coast manager Jovani Renato Dunker said he was seeing a lot of interior designers, but noted he also had a full day of appointments scheduled with store customers.

Company C has also expanded its West Coast sales force to support its growth in the region and has taken a permanent showroom in Building II, which will open in January 2007, to serve its new customer base, according to Kristi Lefebvre, marketing coordinator.

This is the best opportunity to sell to the people on the West Coast,” agreed Judith Rose, head designer, Textillery, noting that during the inaugural Las Vegas show a year ago, “We found we got a significant number of brand new customers, and we also revitalized accounts we hadn't seen us for eight or 10 years. We have picked up a lot of accounts from Hawaii, Canada, and the Rocky Mountain states. We are very, very pleased at the new customers.”

Softline Home Fashions finds that the Las Vegas Market is becoming an all-in-one opportunity. Jason Carr, president of the window treatments firm, noted that he finds clients from across the spectrum. “We serve the mass market, and chain stores, and lots of jobbers,” he said, remarking that “our business in ready-mades continues to grow.”

100% Pure/Custom Comfort set up at the show to sell goods it's already inventorying. Trevor Rabkin, co-ceo, called opening day “amazing,” and said the show was “like opening a door on a whole new audience.”

Forza, maker of upscale turkish towels, feels Vegas has momentum behind it. “There are new faces. People keep coming. It's going to be happening, this show,” said president Selin Aykiran.

The July show drew a larger number of international visitors than the January event, according to the World Market Center. International attendees last week hailed from 116 countries, up from 80 nations in January. The heaviest increases came from Europe, Australia, Mexico, Canada and the Middle East.

On the exhibitor side, U.S. firms made up 80% of the market, which totaled 1,500 exhibitors. Of 308 international tenants, nearly half, or 143, were from Europe, followed by Canada with 59 tenants or 19%; Latin America, 50 companies for 17%; and Asia with 55 companies accounting for 18% of the total international presence.

“World Market Center is an international market and our mission is to be the global stage in the United States for manufacturers worldwide,” said Tim Branscome, director of international business development for World Market Center.

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