Positive Signs Emerge from New York, Vegas Markets
By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 2/8/2010 12:00:00 AM
New York —
Most apprehensions about the business outlook for the balance of the year and forward have been tempered as the results of the New York International Gift Fair and the Las Vegas Market are counted up.
While there were few suppliers showing at both events last week, those contacted were generally pleased with response at each venue — though for different reasons in some cases.
A number of exhibitors reported a marked increase in better goods — moving up once again to luxury — albeit with a different twist from past years. At the luxury level, specialty retailers are adding new items but on a special order basis — one to show and then ordering rather than stocking inventory.
While the show here drew major accolades, attendees and vendors noted the significant drop off in attendance on Wednesday and Thursday. In Las Vegas, several exhibitors noted consistent traffic through Thursday, with a high level of designers in attendance.
In New York, “it was good — solid, and absolutely an order writing show,” remarked John Rose, co-principal of Textillery. “There was a very positive feeling in the air, and our reps have appointments.” He added, “We [didn’t set] records, but there was business and people were certainly careful.”
For Fino Lino, “we were absolutely jammed; we had a very good show,” said Murray Massre, president. “Everyday was very, very busy and we were writing orders. We didn’t expect the business we got, so we didn’t have the right number of people here. Customers were buying at the same luxury price points — but for store samples rather than inventory. These stores are still at the upper price points, but they’re going to use us for inventory.”
Part of Fino Lino’s success last week was the launch of casual linen luxury bedding for the “younger generation,” Massre remarked. These consumers, he believes, want the quality and styling but not the elaborate bedding that attracts the older consumer.
Both New York and Las Vegas were really strong for SDH, but in different ways, said Cathy Stemmler, national sales manager. “We had a really, really great show in New York and sales are back up to two years go.” The customer mix in New York was mostly existing accounts with some new.
In contrast, SDH’s business in Las Vegas was mostly new accounts — and some existing accounts, “and we’re very happy with the show.”
Emphasis in purchases was definitely at the upper end, Stemmler noted. “Some 30% to 40% of our orders were $800 and above at cost. We made the decision to go up, not down and we got the response.”
“It was far better than the show last year at this time,” commented Michelle Harrison, wholesale and hospitality manager for Cuddledown. “Sunday and Monday were strong days and Tuesday and Wednesday were quiet, so we’ll see how the follow-up goes.”
Harrison also noted that the show seemed smaller than in the past with shorter rows and only one pier as a showplace.
While Las Vegas “was a helluva show for us, New York was lousy,” said Keith Sorgeloos, ceo of Home Source. “In Vegas we were busy non-stop and it could well be the best show we’ve ever done.” The problem in New York, he commented “was that we had a small space — 100 square feet.”
For Blissliving, “the mood in Vegas was very upbeat. The first day was very exciting and we had really great traffic and sales. The second day was rather slow and Wednesday was much better,” noted Mareike Finck, public relations and marketing manager.
In New York, “we were very excited to see the response, and we had very good response to the reintroduction of silk. Customers were purchasing better goods,” said Diane Crocker, sales executive, Blissliving. “We were very busy and had the most traffic in two years.” Important also, she said, “was that we added a lot of new stocking accounts.”
An added plus, Crocker said, was the fact that the company won the best new product category with its Chang Mai bedding.
“The show in Vegas has done surprisingly well,” said Ridvan Tatargil, president of Eastern Accents. “We did a lot of writing and a lot of talking about COM [customer’s own material], which we are expanding from a test to a full program open to designers.”
“I feel the turnaround is here, there were a lot of designers in Vegas, and if High Point is good in April, we’ll really be out of a bad phase. Also there are fewer suppliers, and there’s more of a surge of customers’ special orders,” Tatargil added.
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