By Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, 2/26/2007 12:00:00 AM
Every now and then, it's pleasant to realize that something that one has been discussing with some intensity for a fairly long period of time has not been ignored by everyone.
Even more so, it is gratifying that all the trees that were cut down to make the paper that this column is printed on, did not perish in vain.
For what seems like eons, this space has discussed the opportunities that exist in home textiles at the retail level — beyond the top five, top 10, or even the top 50 of our annual rankings.
This year appears to be the great awakening on the part of many suppliers. There are those in the supplier ranks that have never abandoned the smaller retailers — in fact, they have been thriving, over the years, depending on those folks for a lot of volume and profits — as well as that elusive quality called "relationships."
Over the recent years, small-pack programs and special-order programs were de rigueur at the mills, until some of the money guys decided that bigger was better and threw those programs out. Then the China syndrome began and grew full force to the point that there was nothing but containers for business growth as the epidemic enlarged.
What is most interesting about the renaissance in the mainstream home textiles world is that many of the companies now exploring re-entry opportunities into the smaller retail marketplace already have infrastructure in place to service these accounts.
And to the amazement of some of the newbies in this market realm, a great many of their potential customers will pose no credit problems — unlike some of the marquee names in retailing. Why? They buy with their credit cards!
This month's market revealed some interesting opportunities that came to pass as major retailers brought suppliers and licensors together — not realizing that there were retail outlets not related to home textiles that sold the licensors' products. It is a no-brainer opportunity to set up new relationships at retail.
At the same time, we've heard more and more references to the internet and the opportunities that exist for home textiles. Again it's a pick-and-pack scenario.
But still, there are those companies that insist that their reps can't make headway with out-of-the-box retailers. It's time for senior management to step up and move into these arenas for new business. And there's a lot of it out there.
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