Outpouring of support

Carole Sloan, September 17, 2001

This is a very different column than the one originally planned for this week.

This column was set to talk about the spirit, the direction and the mood of two home furnishings fabrics fairs in Brussels. We were going to discuss trends, presentation and all the wonderful aesthetic stuff that typically comes out of a class-one show.

There literally were hundreds of Americans at the Decosit and TIP fabric fairs in Brussels last week. We all were there to show or shop one of the most important fabric shows in the home furnishings business. The biggest concern for many was the slowdown of the global economy, the simultaneous strength of the dollar and the potential impact this double whammy would have on their business.

And to the surprise of the Americans, both Decosit and TIP proved to be better than anticipated. At least it was the mood until Tuesday afternoon, European time.

As the unbelievable events in the United States unfolded via television, rumors and misinformation, the reactions of the people in the fairs and the people on the streets of Brussels were so awesome that many Americans were overwhelmed by the expressions of compassion and friendship that literally poured out from people on the street, as well as from people that they knew.

The reaction of Patrick Geysels, director of Decosit and his staff was supportive and compassionate. Decosit's exhibitor party was scheduled for Tuesday evening, and by late afternoon the Decosit group cancelled the event in deference to the Americans at the show.

What's more, Geysels and his troops walked the halls visiting with the American exhibitors and the buyers they recognized, offering sympathy and whatever assistance they could. A TV was set up in their offices for the Americans.

But even more incredible were the reactions of people on the street who would stop anyone who looked "American," grab a hand, give a hug and offer sympathy.

But more interesting were the reactions of American exhibitors. On Wednesday morning, a number of stands boasted new decor — American flags proudly flying.

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