Optimism Appears at AmericasMart
By Andrea Lillo
Optimism replaced pessimism for rug exhibitors at last month's Atlanta International Area Rug Market as many said that business seemed to pick up over the last few months.
"People have a better attitude and they are not moaning and groaning like previous markets," said Roy Evans, vice president, sales and marketing, CMI. He characterized business as going "from bad to fair; it's moving in the right direction."
Nourison Principal Alex Peykar agreed. "The direction business is going in is good, it doesn't matter how slow it is," he said. "The optimism is noticeably different."
At this market, some manufacturers took the route of introducing a slew of new products, while others only debuted a few things if anything at all. Unsurprisingly, value-oriented items remained key as most companies expanded their offerings in that area. More introductions were seen in areas where lower-price points work best such as juvenile and novelty looks, along with polyacrylic and nylon yarns.
Beyond price points, manufacturers looked to have product in retailers' hands as soon as possible. At Oriental Weavers, all the introductions were already in production or on order, said Aaron Gray, marketing director. Before, product would be ready to ship within three to four months of a show, but this time, he said, everything will be ready to go next month. "We need to get it to the stores, or they will go to another supplier," he said.
At market, Oriental Weavers showed its new reversible wool line, called Options, which had designs on both sides. The company constructed reinforced rack arms to hold the line as well, to display both designs.
And like everyone else, price points are being adjusted. Retailers are looking for $299 or $399 instead of $599, said Jim Thompson, vice president, sales and marketing, Central Oriental. However, "the problem is that there are not twice as many customers coming through the door to make up the difference," he said.
Dalyn began targeting the $299 price point and under about two and a half years ago. "We saw what was coming," said David Adams, executive vice president.
Dalyn's Studio line is a hand-tufted acrylic line that retails for $199 for a 5-by-8, and at market 16 designs were added to the group.
There is also a change at the higher end with $1,499 being the new luxury price point for hand-knotted goods, said Larry Mahurter, director of advertising/sales promotion, Couristan. Less than a year ago, it was $2,499, according to Mahurter. Couristan offers more expensive rugs, but "few dealers are selling our highest price points right now," he said.
At market, Central Oriental added to existing collections such as Bastille, which added some color "because a lot of furniture is neutral," Thompson said. "If you change one or two creels you can change the whole look of the collection."Dalyn premiered three kids' collections at market: a My Style shag line in bright colors, a sports-oriented All Star group which offers sets of a 5-by-7 rug paired with a shaped accent rug; and, for older teens, Forever Young, a printed nylon group with tie dyed and guitar designs.
Kas also launched a new kids' line at market, called Kolorful Kids. Made of acrylic, the line of 15 designs will retail for $299 for a 5-by-8.
The low price point at Dynamic Rugs used to be $199, said Jon Morrison, vice president, sales and marketing--now, it's $99. Fifteen rugs at that price point were added at market, and the $199 price point was also expanded. C Zen, a new indoor/outdoor shag line, comes in white, brown, gray and green, while Safari, a polyester shag, combines both the animal print and shag trend into one rug. For a three-dimensional look, Aria "gives you a motion effect," he said.
Karastan also debuted a newer, lower price point: $499 for a 5.5-by-8.5-foot rug. Anne Carley, director of marketing, said the new price points and styles will attract new customers to Karastan. The new rug line, which may have its own label, is made of nylon, and not of polypropylene "like everybody else," Carley said. "The new line will give us opportunities to find that generation [people in their 20s and 30s] in new [distribution areas] as well as traditional retailers."
Couristan will return to novelties with the Prairie Creek design in its Arrowhead Lodge collection. "They will be indicative to the region," said Mahurter, and will have lighter-colored designs, as well as such motifs as lighthouses and lodge looks.
Shaw Living expanded its Angela Adams license into printed nylon to offer the bright and bold patterns the designer is known for at a better price point--$289 for a 5-by-8. It targets a different customer than Shaw's machine-woven designs with the designer--which retail for over $700--said Kim Barta, brand manager. The company also premiered its Reflections line of novelty accent rugs with such motifs as a rooster, a peacock, olives and a coffee cup. Shaw also showed a new display unit with the company's first computer kiosk for retailers that don't have the floor space for full-size rugs. Customers can search a catalog of 5,500 SKUs by style, color or other criteria.
Momeni launched a custom rug program called Momeni Concepts. Using Momeni's New Wave designs, consumers can customize their rugs using a palette of 85 colors. Made in its New Wave factory in China, the rugs will be shipped to customers within 90 days, according to the company.