Showtime Traffic Slackens

Exhibitors Outlook Optimistic

Carole Sloan, June 18, 2007

Despite a marked drop in attendance, punctuated by an unsettled current business condition and questionable outlook, exhibitors at Showtime here earlier this month were generally satisfied with customers' responses.

The retail fabric segment was particularly noted for its diminished presence during Showtime, causing a few exhibitors to observe that this is one customer group that typically writes orders on the spot, rather than making sample requests.

Environmentally friendly products were well received conceptually at a number of firms, but whether they will stand up to the pricing and performance demands of the various market segments still remains a question.

Generally, suppliers and customers noted the continually inconsistent business climate, a condition that will impact the breadth and depth of fabric selection for the coming seasons.

Almost universally, exhibitors remarked on the significant drop in "walk-ins" — customers without specific appointments.

"We were quite busy for the first two and a half days. Wednesday was a bust, as expected," said Roger Burnim, vp, Heritage House. "We had very positive response, but with the mood apprehensive, customers generally were questioning the third and fourth-quarter outlook.

Retailers were less than optimistic but will try new things."

For Valdese, "Showtime was great," said Mike Shelton, president. "All three divisions did really well, but VIP was gangbusters and Wesley Mancini was fantastic."

It was a mixed week for Textile Fabric Associates, according to Michael Day, vp. "There were no walk-ins and a lot of furniture manufacturers were not showing up. Some see us in Hickory, others have seen us already, and we'll see others at their places."

Almost more significant, "is that [major] retailers were not walking around with their key manufacturers, and there were not a lot of small retailers either," Day continued. Overall, he added, "though business is tough, the response was great, and we were highly sampled."

"I am guardedly pleased," said Jack Cobb, president of Westgate by ADF, "but it was absolutely not as busy as we have been in the past." Despite the drop in attendance, he added, "it's still a good value, a necessary show. And we had quite a number of finished products customers in to review."

For Craftex, "We had more jobbers than before, but not as many peripheral customers as usual," said Jack Eger, vp. "Furniture was good and a little bit of RV."

On the social side, Morgan Fabrics won the Best Booth award presented by the International Textile Market Association (ITMA) to exhibitors in the temporary spaces of Market Square Suites.

ITMA also presented the 2007 Virginia Jackson Design Awards to students in three categories: jacquards, prints, and dobbies. In the jacquard category, first place winner was Kayla Soo-Youn Kim, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The dobby first prize went to Adam Miller, RISD, who also won second place in the category. The print first prize went to Shinby Lee, Philadelphia University.

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