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Shopping lists and wishful thinking

Looking over the retail landscape, more than ever it is clear that little by little outsiders are nipping away at the conventional home textiles world.

Have you been to your local supermarket, local drugstore or even your favorite liquor store lately?

You would be amazed at what you might see in terms of stuff from the world of home textiles. Back-to-school stuff along with the paper goods in the drug stores' departments, rugs, throws and beach towels in the supermarkets, and exotic table linens to go with the really great wine carrying baskets in the liquor store, designed as gift packages — and definitely not Wal-Mart priced.

Consider the number of supermarket chains — big and small — that offer home textiles on a seasonal basis.

Walking through our local upcountry garden supply store, we saw decorative pillows, table linens for outdoor dining and furniture cushions — a long ago big business for home textiles departments.

At the October market in High Point, there was an amazing amount of stuff targeted for folks like Orvis and National Geographic to be used not at retail, but as premiums for members or premium customers — and it covered the gamut of home furnishings products from home textiles to rugs, to furniture and the inevitable accessories of all taste levels.

Now we're seeing more and more home textiles business at places like Expo, the Home Depot design/home decorating chain, Sears' The Great Indoors and even apparel-oriented retailers like Anthropologie.

Whether it's a fun shower curtain here, a throw there, a rug somewhere else — it's still a home textiles product that isn't being bought in conventional home textiles retailing establishment.

Any guess why?

Customers are picking up a piece here, a piece there — in the places they shop the most often, and where they are the most comfortable.

This should be a loud alarm for those "traditional retailers" to make their stores more interesting, exciting and places where customers might wander in more than when they have the latest three- hour sale coupon in hand.

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