Home furnishings vendors and retailers will soon start packing their bags for the next round of trade shows. HFN’s exclusive Trade Show Preview lists all of the important events and updates on changes and special programs as, like a band of gypsies, you go down the highway.
The second half of the year for the home textiles trade shows will bring yet another scheduling move for the showroom version.
In February, the Home Fashion Products Association announced that it had shifted the dates for the second-half home textiles market week from August to September. The new dates on which the showrooms will be open are Monday, Sept. 15, to Friday, Sept. 19. HFPA also moved the showroom dates for early next year from February to March; in 2009, the showrooms will be open from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13.
Describing the reaction from vendors to the move, Barry Leonard, president of HFPA and president and chief executive officer of Ex-Cell Home Fashions and Glenoit, said, “I think it’s been positive. It means that the market no longer takes place when people want to take their summer vacations.”
Vendors who commented to HFN about the move echoed Leonard’s sentiments. “The impact should be good,” said Leslie Gillock, vice president of brand management for Springs Global. “The dates were set based on input from suppliers, retailers and other industry stakeholders, so based on that collaborative decision making, the timing should suit their individual needs.”
Loren Sweet, president of Brentwood Originals, said, “September is a big improvement over August, primarily for personal reasons with family obligations such as summer camps, etc. In my opinion, market could literally be any month, so let’s pick the dates that make it easier and encourage attendance.”
GLM, manager of the New York Home Textiles Show at the Jacob K. Javits Center, doesn’t share the positive feelings toward the date change. When the move was announced, Penny Sikalis, GLM’s vice president, said the company was “disappointed” that the move was made “despite the ongoing communications we have had with them.” Last month, Leonard said, “We’ll continue to talk to GLM about having the markets back to back.”
This summer will mark the third show in which GLM’s New York Home Textiles Show will be incorporated into the company’s New York International Gift Fair. Dorothy Belshaw, GLM’s senior vice president and director of the gift fair, said incorporating home textiles into the gift fair has been a “win-win. Buyers who used to shop both markets have found it to be a more efficient buying opportunity. When textiles came under the gift fair, we could present a serious critical mass of resources under one roof.”
The gift fair is evolving into the summer’s supershow for home furnishings, with home textiles joining furniture, lighting, wall art, floor covering, botanical, housewares and tabletop resources. “We haven’t seen any measurable impact on the show from the economy or other factors,” Belshaw said. “Maybe some retailers will send fewer buyers because of the costs of travel, but in the key buying categories, the people are still coming.”
At 7 W New York, the strategy is to work with both the GLM show and the showroom version of market week. “We support both markets,” said Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W. “We look at any opportunity to meet with retail buyers. Our events show that we support both weeks.”
Among the slate of events at 7 W is the building’s launch of a temporary wholesale exhibit for artists and artisans who are bringing their work to the gift and home-accessories industry, which will take place during the gift fair. During the showroom market week, the building will offer temporary exhibit space to vendors that had formerly exhibited at hotels in New York City. Both of these temporary exhibits will be on the 11th floor of 7 W.
There’s not much down time for the rug category these days.
While recent years found the second half of the year functioning as a bit of a break from the crazed pace of the winter/spring market schedule, now there are just as many dates to keep buyers and vendors on the road. While vendors continue to gripe regarding the harried year-long schedule, they also willingly admit there is no clear market to leave behind. The markets themselves continue to become more regional, particularly now that there is the West Coast option of Las Vegas Market, and the general belief at present is the regional effect will only continue to grow, thereby maintaining a need for each venue.
The International Area Rug Market in Atlanta is the market the bulk of rug manufacturers and suppliers point to as key for their industry. While the summer crowd is typically smaller than January’s, the category-dedicated show is the place where most say their biggest meetings go down. This year, AmericasMart will continue with the tradition of its Retailer of the Year Awards and banquet, which is heading back to the Georgia World Aquarium this time around.
AmericasMart said it is feeling a slight surge in exhibitor confidence as new tenants have signed on and existing ones expanded in time for the July market. Among them are Chandra Rugs, Silk Route International, Tamarian Carpets and J.D. Staron. Seminars are a big part of the agenda here as well, with sessions geared toward helping retailers and suppliers make the most of their businesses. Among the educational seminars available in July are Retail by Design: A Blueprint to Cross-Merchandising Success and Secrets to Huge Holiday Sales.
Less than two weeks later, rug exhibitors will open showrooms during the grand opening of Building C at the World Market Center. Exhibitors all throughout the complex are hoping for a surge of visitors for everyone, noting that curiosity regarding the opening of Building B last year definitely attracted crowds. Rug vendors are also hopeful the West Coast and international crowd that has set Las Vegas Market apart for them will continue to grow at this installation.
Companies in accent rug business, as well as those specializing in handicrafts such as needlepoint and hand-hooking, have found a home at the New York International Gift Fair, and their numbers seem to be growing each year. The August show attracts that specialty shop buyer with an interest in the details of how products are made and the accompanying accessories many of the rug companies also provide.
Once the baby of the show circuit, Metro Market Week has graduated to an established place on the calendar and will celebrate its fifth anniversary this September. Importers and suppliers have grown fond of the show that favors New York/New Jersey-based vendors and they continue to support it. The now-annual cocktail reception is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 15, and a dinner and reception for ORICA members is scheduled for the following night. The show has also earned a reputation for impressive prize opportunities for buyers. Among this year’s giveaways will be plasma TVs, video iPods and Broadway tickets.
Whereas other markets are notorious for being more trafficked in the first of their biannual runs, the October High Point Market has earned a reputation for being the busiest of its two time frames. Closing out the year, as far as major markets go for this category, rug vendors continue to point to High Point as crucial for maintaining their business with the furniture retailers in the Eastern states.
FURNITURE, LIGHTING AND HOME DECOR
In this difficult economy, trade shows are one of many areas retailers and vendors look at to trim costs. This is particularly true in furniture, lighting and home decor, which has a multitude of trade shows.
While most lighting and home decor executives said they value trade shows, the number of shows and size of showroom space committed has become disproportional to the amount of business generated. In a word: The industry is over-showed, and it’s not sustainable in this business climate, they said.
Several major vendors told HFN that when their leases are up for renewal, whether it’s in High Point, Dallas or Las Vegas, they’re planning to either downsize or eliminate one venue entirely. Meanwhile, many are sending fewer people and cutting back on the number of products introduced and on entertainment.
“The fact is, we never should have gotten to this point,” said Ken Kallett, executive vice president of Dale Tiffany. “This is the most redundant business model I’ve ever seen. In furniture, lighting and accessories, we have this little, tiny industry and all these shows with expensive showrooms and they’re all permanent spaces. But housewares, a multibillion-dollar industry, with relatively small-sized product, has one show a year and it’s a temporary show. We are a small industry with very large products, which creates logistical issues getting in and out of shows, and it turns slower, and we’ve got these huge, expensive showrooms.
“We should have one show a year in one showroom location.”
He said that this pressure is only being accelerated by the difficult economy, in which fewer buyers attend the shows.
Another vendor said that while his company has far too much showroom space in both High Point and Las Vegas, he’s making strategic cuts in the way his firm goes to markets.
“They’ve got you locked in, but what you can do is take less risk, introduce less product, send fewer people,” said the president of a major lamp company. But the fixed costs of showroom leases “reduces your ability to react to changing channels of distribution,” he said.
Many shows are evolving into total home venues, while some of them are branching out into contract and hospitality businesses. Nearly all are reaching across the borders and overseas to expand their international foot traffic.
Dallas is one example of a show that’s recently changed its name and targeted a more international clientele. The June 18 to 24 summer edition of the Dallas Total Home Market at the Dallas Market Center is expecting a 100 percent increase in the number of international guests, from such places as Uruguay, Ecuador, Barbados, Indonesia, the West Indies and the United Kingdom. In addition, a special delegation of dozens of international lighting buyers will arrive from Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Brazil, DMC said.
Also, during the Dallas Lighting Market, a new Hospitality/Contract Lighting Show will take place on June 23, offering a mix of lighting for facilities managers, interior designers, architects, builders and others.
Similarly, the Las Vegas Market is positioning itself across product categories, making a major push with international attendees, and going after the hospitality contract furnishings trade. From July 28 to Aug. 1, the Las Vegas Market at World Market Center will host its summer market and open its third building, covering about 2.1 million square feet of showroom space and featuring such big names as Lexington Home Brands, Excelsior Designs and Nicole Miller.
WMC’s Las Vegas Design Center will have an entire floor in Building C dedicated to hospitality manufacturers, set to open in 2009. This evolution is part of the trade show organizer’s long-term growth strategy, officials said.
For the first time, the Las Vegas Market will be self-contained on the three-building campus, and include such temporary exhibits as high-end Context, Living Green, and the Design and Living juried sections.
For the 2008 winter edition, Las Vegas Market moved from January to February to avoid conflict with European shows and regional gift and accessories markets.
The New York International Gift Fair, will be held Aug. 16 to 21 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, Metropolitan Pavilion and Passenger Ship Terminal piers 92 and 94. The market is broadening its reach well into home decor and larger accessories and furniture, with a critical mass of 600 home furnishings exhibitors, show organizers said.
“The gift moniker may be a deterrent to some home furnishings retailers, but our At Home division is, in fact, larger than some other events for home,” said Belshaw, NYIGF director and senior vice president at GLM. She said the show has the “best high-end mix” among competitors.
“GLM has made a commitment to expand and refine our home offerings. As part of this, and as NYIGF is a sold-out event, we carefully edit our home collection to allow the show to ebb and flow with industry trends, and NYIGF is a leader in terms of product trend, design, quality and innovation,” she added.
Last on the calendar, but nonetheless important to the furniture universe is the fall High Point Market, slated for Oct. 20 to 26 in High Point, N.C. The High Point Market Authority has also beefed up its marketing to overseas buyers, with its prestigious International Buyer Program status this past market and for next spring.
High Point is also targeting interior designers and first-time buyers with its marketing, promotions and educational lineup.
While the fall seminar schedule is still in the works, the entertainment headliners—KC and the Sunshine Band and Peter Frampton—have been announced.
Tabletop and gift shows in the second half of this year feature both changes in scheduling as well as product assortments that respond to today’s trends.
The new Decorate Life combined show takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, July 4 to 8. This show incorporates the Tendence Fair, Collectione, Outdoor Living and The Design Annual into an all-in-one venue demanded by attendees, according to show organizer Messe Frankfurt.
“Holding Decorate Life at this early time in July puts us in first place in the national and international series of fairs,” said Michael Peters, member of the board of management of Messe Frankfurt. “Thus, anyone wanting to present, see and order new products can be sure of being in the right place at Decorate Life.”
Collectione is aimed at buyers who purchase in bulk. Tendence is for those seeking lifestyle brands and designer products. The new Outdoor Living event offers future-oriented product groups for all channels of distribution. And The Design Annual, a division of Decorate Life, is aimed at both professional and private visitors with an interest in design.
The New York fall tabletop show, which takes place at permanent showroom buildings 41 Madison Ave., 7 W New York and 230 Fifth Ave., is also operating in a new time frame, taking place Wednesday, Oct. 22, to Friday, Oct. 24. The switch to a three-day, midweek schedule is a result of popular demand: A survey by 41 Madison Ave. following the spring tabletop show revealed an overwhelming preference for this time frame.
“Everybody in tabletop is thrilled,” said Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W New York. “It made for a more exciting show, more business, more [intensity]. It was all good.”
At 7 W, the use of temporary exhibit space on the 11th floor will continue and expand with a gourmet products section this fall. This addition gives vendors the opportunity to expand their mix and their cross-merchandising possibilities, said Su Hilty, director of marketing.
Many of the shows in the remainder of the year will have a distinctly green cast, as consumer interest in eco-friendly products steadily increases.
The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings market, which takes place July 10 to 14 at AmericasMart, will once again feature the Green Products Showcase, a juried collection of eco-friendly products, along with the usual slate of informational and educational seminars and programs.
GLM will likewise present SustainAbility: design for a better world, a special curated exhibit and three-part educational program returning to the New York International Gift Fair Aug. 16 to 21. The show takes place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, the Passenger Ship Terminal Piers and the Metropolitan Pavilion.
This August, the SustainAbility display will showcase global gift and home industry suppliers whose products or production processes are eco-friendly, as well as companies whose corporate philosophies are socially responsible, philanthropic or fair trade-oriented.
GLM is expanding the Gift Fair in several ways. Its At Home division now encompasses nearly all areas of home furnishings, including furniture, floor coverings, wall art, lighting, home textiles and decorative accessories.
In addition, a designation identifying “designer maker” exhibitors will be introduced in Handmade, distinguishing the work of individual artisans from production craft. Similarly, A+: The Young Designer’s Platform will expand within the Accent on Design division.
Show organizers are optimistic about their prospects in the second half, despite the downturn in the economy.
Cost was one impetus for moving the tabletop show off the weekends, according to Carole Dixon, senior vice president and director, 41 Madison. “Being in town over the weekend is expensive,” she said, and people want to finish business during the work week, she said.
Dixon said she has not seen any fallout from the economy in terms of leasing so far. Likewise, the New York Gift Fair’s rate of attrition is consistent with the past two or three shows, according to Belshaw, who is expecting a sold-out show this August.
“In general, we are seeing more resilience at the higher-end versus middle market among exhibitors who are canceling or downsizing,” Belshaw told HFN. “We also have some companies taking sabbaticals this August and returning in February. However, this is due largely to line redirection and repositioning for 2009 than to current business conditions.”
GLM is introducing some online tools to help retailers pre-plan their shopping strategy at market. In the same way, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. is working more closely with many of its tenants at 7 W New York on marketing and other promotional activities, according to Collins. “The tough will survive,” he said.
The Accent on Tabletop section, inaugurated in February, has grown to include more high-end, design-oriented tabletop vendors in the 300 aisle. The section serves as a bridge between Accent on Design and the general tabletop division, and is designed to appeal to those retailers seeking luxury tabletop. Newcomers to the section include Kim Seybert, Alex Marshall, Eigen Arts and Atticus, among others, creating “a really strong mix of better and more design-oriented companies” all in one place, Belshaw said. The redefinition of the tabletop area will continue over the next few shows in an effort to build critical mass for specialty buyers. Exhibitors, too, will benefit from being in the same neighborhood of vendors that appeal to similar types of buyers, according to Belshaw.
The housewares industry is kept less busy with trade shows in the back half of the year, but some shows are placing more emphasis on the housewares category to round out their assortments.
Though it’s not seen by all as a show for the housewares industry, the New York International Gift Fair has actually included the category for more than a decade. “What’s new in recent years is we have called it out in our promotional materials,” said Belshaw of GLM. The show is an opportunity to shop for housewares in the second half of the year, she added. “A lot of smaller shows can’t wait till March to restock after holidays.”
A newer resource for the housewares industry in the latter part of the year is during the tabletop market, as the temporaries floor at 7 W launched in April to include a number of housewares companies, said Craig Dooley, vice president of marketing at Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. “There’s a blurring and blending of lines across industries,” he said. “Categories are becoming more inclusive” and it works because housewares are “complementary to the tabletop lifestyle.” In addition, a number of companies with permanent showrooms, such as Zak Designs and Umbra, already include housewares products in their collections, he added.
Years ago, what is now the Housewares Show took place in both spring and fall but “the industry indicated that [both shows] were not necessary,” said Phil Brandl, president of the International Housewares Association. His association keeps in touch with exhibitors and retail customers, and they’re “not looking for more trade shows,” he said. “There’s no clear call [for a second Housewares Show].”