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Shoulberg PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Attack of the Zombie Market Week

September 23, 2013

OK, so it's not a horror movie and there won't be much in the way of blood, gore or guts - at least not in the literal sense - this week at the textiles market in New York City.

But any resemblance today of the living dead is not exactly coincidental.
Once more, we'll see glazed-over expressions on the faces of the trudging hoards that invade the market buildings and showrooms, nodding in unison and nodding off in the corners. Who are these people, and if the big retailers have so many of them how come you can still never get anybody on the phone?

Once more, we'll see showrooms that resemble dank, dark dungeons even if they are brightly lit to the power of small nuclear explosions. The uninspired displays and offerings falling way short of the excitement of other trade shows. How can so many talented people be reduced to pandering to the lowest common denominator?

And once more, we'll see all parties doing pretty much what they did last time: going to the same showrooms, having the same conversations and going through the same motions.

Which is why I would like to propose the following anti-zombie measures:

1. Every attending retailer is required to visit at least one new showroom they've never worked before and at least one showroom they haven't been to for at least three markets.

2. Every vendor is required to be genuinely enthusiastic about at least one new product on their showroom floor and make a legitimate effort to extol its virtues regardless of race, creed or thread count.

3. Every retailer is required to accept that genuine enthusiasm at face value and make a legitimate effort to consider the product for their stores regardless of race, creed or markdown money.

4. Every market attendee is required to spend at least 15 minutes each and every day they are at market in the lobby or in front of a market building engaged in conversations with competitors, customers, non-customers, old friends, new friends and others who they might not see during conventional market appointments.

5. Finally, each and every market attendee is required to smile...at least sometimes.

We all get in ruts, no question about it, but it's not good for your thought process, and heaven knows, not for your business either.
And this textiles industry of ours certainly doesn't make it any easier with a market week held largely behind closed doors with little if any large-scale social interaction events or functions. Some could even make the argument that it is big reason why the industry finds itself painted into a commodity-merchandising corner - perhaps more than other segments of the home furnishings business.

Zombies are about the hottest thing in movies, on television and in literature these days. But that doesn't mean they have to be quite so popular on Fifth Avenue this week.

Have a lively market.