By Jennifer Quail
HIGH POINT, N.C.–It’s simply a different type of market. That’s what exhibitors had to say about this installation of High Point Market and the economic market in general. Executives acknowledged the economy’s imprint on business in general, but also said the varied audience that made the effort to come to market did so not simply to look for trends, as in the past, but to actually make purchases.
Some vendors were quick to point out what they observed as a growing international clientele in High Point. “There is so much foreign language in the halls,” said Wendy Reiss, key accounts manager for Kas Rugs, adding her belief that the High Point Market organizers “target the international market better than any other I’ve seen.”
Momeni vice president Ali Momeni agreed, saying his company “always picks up international business” in High Point. He added, for Momeni, High Point also provides the most designer business of all the markets, noting the designers have the unique opportunity to select their fabrics and then shop the market for all the coordinating accessories.
Another positive for this market, some said, is the buyers’ and designers’ agenda. “We like High Point because the buyers are pre-qualified,” said Joe Barkley, executive vice president at Kaleen. “We expect if someone comes in the door here, they want to buy something. They either come here to buy or they don’t come.”
“It’s a cycle and we’ve had it before,” said Lee Harounian, president of Harounian Rugs International, of the present economy and its effect on buying practices. “It’s going to take a little while for it all to turn around. Hopefully, it will be a short cycle.”
While many have begun to express frustration regarding incessant economic doom and gloom in the media, Harounian stressed the importance of a recession’s full cycle and where the country is within that cycle. “By the time we know we are in a recession, already half of it has passed,” he said. “People in this business happen to find out first because we are not a necessity item.”
As for the product itself, Donielle Arabia, assistant director of advertising and marketing for Couristan, said a large portion of the company’s orders at the market were for indoor/outdoor rugs, a category the company has been steadily growing for a few years. A new, compact display unit for the product was helping to boost the area even more, Arabia said.
Others, such as Jaunty, also featured new display units devised to further aid retailers in merchandising efforts. And still more boosted their assortment of accessories designed to coordinate with their area rug designs.
Shags continued to be a hit for many companies as well, with new treatments of the idea, involving varied yarns and pile heights and additional methods for adding even greater texture faring best.
Earth tones showed strongly, as did designs with global inspiration, with vendors noting the economy’s lingering influence there.
“People’s economic situation is strained and they are making longer-term decisions,” said Kim Reynolds, vice president of marketing for Sphinx. Reynolds was among the executives who said “safer” designs and palettes continue to top the market.