Nothing sparks consumer spending like new products, and the parade of introductions starts in January with a near-explosion of domestic trade shows. By the end of the first quarter, nearly every home furnishings category will have experienced a major trade show. So pack those suitcases and shine those shoes. Safe travels and happy hunting.
Trade shows featuring home textiles frontload the first half of the calendar of every year.
The 2009 trade-show year for textiles begins with the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market, managed by AmericasMart Atlanta and scheduled for Jan. 6 to 14.
The last week of January (23-29) will bring the New York International Gift Fair, which is owned and managed by GLM. The upcoming show will mark the fourth gift fair into which GLM’s New York Home Textiles Show will be incorporated. The show areas include the Jacob K. Javits Center; Passenger Ship Terminal piers 90, 92 and 94; 7 W New York; and 230 Fifth Ave., all in New York.
The economy presents both challenges and opportunities for trade show participants. Chris Collins, vice president and general manager of 7 W New York Acknowledging that the textiles industry is particularly vulnerable in tough times, added, “An extended slowdown in buying [by retailers] will typically result in a very strong uptick for the shows that kick off the year.” The need for retailers to stock up after a period of low buying levels “will benefit those suppliers that provide fresh product and solution-based programs,” Collins predicted.
The Las Vegas Market, running from Feb. 9 to 13, is worth mentioning because of the expanded textiles presence at recent markets. In July, the opening of Building C helped boost the number of textiles vendors at the show.
March brings two more shows—New York Home Fashions Market Week from March 9 to 13; and the Atlanta International Fine Linen & Home Textiles Market from March 14 to 16.
The March dates represent an adjustment for the textiles market week; the winter showroom market took place in February of this year. During that month, the Home Fashion Products Association announced that it would change the winter-market dates to March 2009, after discussions with association members, retailers and their partners, according to an HFPA statement.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty in the textiles industry from the macroeconomic issues in the U.S.,” said Barry Leonard, HFPA’s president and president of Croscill, Ex-Cell Home Fashions and Glenoit. “With all the consolidations, bankruptcies and liquidations, fewer retailers will be coming in. But they’ll still be coming.”
With several trade show and market organizers promising the inclusion of many new product lines and strong attendance, rug vendors have plenty to consider and various options when planning their travel budgets for 2009.
For rug companies, synergy is perhaps the most notable of advantages to be gained during the 2009 trade show and market circuit, which offers rug vendors opportunities to both generate repeat business and reach new potential customers.
The first market to kick off the new year is AmericasMart Atlanta, starting Jan. 6 to 14 with its International Gift & Home Furnishings Market and Area Rug Market, featuring the National Oriental Rug Show.
This market marks the first during which the gift and home segments coincide with the rug market—an opportunity that many hope will draw new customers who don’t normally shop the rug market. AmericasMart will also debut its Building Two West Wing at this winter event, adding two new floors of exhibition space.
“The debut of Building Two West Wing will add to the overall excitement and energy—and more importantly the breadth of product diversity—of the January Market, the first market of the year [and] the first place and time to discover the latest area rug introductions,” said Chas Sydney, senior vice president of area rugs for AmericasMart. “Additionally, the move of two floors—Living, Outdoor/Indoor, The Gardens—has increased the emphasis on home products solely housed within Building One. This offers the area rug industry added value with cross-merchandising opportunities with home furnishings buyers.”
Among the highlights of the market will be the annual America’s Magnificent Carpet Awards and the Museum of Introductions, meant to honor the most innovative and inspiring creations in the area rug business.
“AmericasMart continues its commitment to buyers with a full lineup of innovative educational programming, seminars, celebrity appearances, events and parties—including the most celebrated event in the area rug industry, America’s Magnificent Carpet Awards,” said Sydney.
The winter New York International Gift Fair—held this year from Jan. 25 to 29, at the Jacob Javits Convention Center and Passenger Ship Terminal piers 90, 92 and 94—is another event during which rug markets can strive to expand their customer base with buyers and designers who may not have rugs in the forefront of their minds. It is, however, also a convenient spot for many East Coasters and locals who want to check out new wares in the rug world.
Danielle Johnson, sales manager for the At Home section of the fair, said the breadth and depth attracts retailers from all categories.
“While NYIGF is not a ‘rug market’ per se, it does offer exhibiting rug suppliers access to their core audience—rug and home furnishings retailers—as well as a wider universe of retailers who may use rugs to complement their lifestyle and gift assortments,” she said.
Johnson is cautiously optimistic about attendance at the winter market, and will look to holiday spending trends for clues as to where things are headed. “We are receiving new registrations daily and our hotel bookings are solid, and both of these are indicators of attendance at market,” Johnson added. “Certainly, fourth-quarter sales results will dictate at-market order-writing.”
With February comes a couple of opportunities for rug vendors to showcase their wares in the adult playground of Las Vegas. Las Vegas World Market is a newcomer to the rug market circuit, but one that the industry is watching with great interest. According to Phillip McKay, senior vice president, buyer attendance has increased steadily and has been particularly lucrative for rug vendors.
“Summer 2008 Las Vegas Market showed 46 percent of attendees purchased floor coverings,” he reported. “That’s a 3-percent increase from the previous Winter 2008 Las Vegas Market.”
McKay added that the market should be similar in size to last year and is not anticipating a decrease, but actually hopes to see growth. He said the market will also look to expand its product lines, while continuing to boost its emphasis on the rug market and bring in more exhibitors and attendees for that segment.
Also in Las Vegas is Surfaces, sponsored by the World Floor Covering Association, with exhibits from Feb. 3 to 5 and a conference portion from Feb. 2 to 5. The show draws buyers in the broader floor-covering market including hardwood, tile, carpet and specialty flooring, and many in the area rug business also find it worth the trip.
“Surfaces opens up new marketing options for rug companies,” said Dana Teague, Surfaces show director. “Where, traditionally, most rug companies sell directly to high-end decorators and stores, they now see the value of expanding their market to include flooring retailers.”
The Home Fashion Product’s Association’s New York Home Fashions Market is another venue at which rug companies can find themselves fitting snugly into the overall fabric of the home furnishings arena and reaping the rewards of a broad customer base. The winter market in 2009, spanning several locations on Fifth Avenue and other showrooms in New York City, is from March 9 to 13.
The spring will kick off for many rug vendors with the High Point Market, from April 25 to 30.
FURNITURE & LIGHTING
New showrooms and products will highlight the Dallas International Lighting Market (Jan. 15 to 19) at Dallas Market Center. In addition, buyers will experience dozens of educational seminars, walking tours, networking opportunities and special education events.
“More products, more services and more business intelligence will be offered than ever before,” said Bill Winsor, president and chief executive officer, Dallas Market Center.
In addition to thousands of product introductions, January market will feature several showroom openings for daniel richards, KAM & Company, Lampe Berger, Maharani, Mario & Associates and Reed & Barton.
During the show on Jan. 17, the 20th Annual ARTS Awards will honor Murray Feiss with the Academy of Achievement.
The World Market Center in Las Vegas rattled the home furnishings trade show world two months ago when it announced it was going to a fall/winter show schedule. The first of the year’s Vegas shows moves from January to February.
The new February dates “accommodate the international strategic partners and initiatives, as they avoid January,” a vacation month for many Europeans, show organizers said.
This will be the first winter show with Building C, housing the Las Vegas Design Center and its offerings open to attendees. The LVDC is full of fine furniture, decorative accessories, wall decor, lighting, floor coverings, fabrics and trim and kitchen, bath and building products. The facility is open year-round and has already hosted numerous design-oriented events. Check lasvegasmarket.com for events related to the show.
Most recently, Phoenix-based Jordan Spencer opened an 18,000-square-foot, multiline showroom in the LVDC. The company carries brands including Lorts Manufacturing, Artitalia and Pearson Company.
The Tupelo Furniture Market returns to January (24-28), after a brief stint in a February slot. Concurrently, show organizers said a survey conducted by the Tupelo Market found that nearly all retailers preferred a January winter market. The new January market is now a little more than a week after the Dallas Lighting Market and a little more than a week before the Las Vegas Market.
The High Point Market celebrates its 100th anniversary with its show in April, with numerous events planned.
The High Point Market Authority board of directors voted unanimously to shift the pattern of the biannual market’s opening and closing days, shortening the spring market.
Effective with the spring market, April 25 to 30, the High Point Market will encompass six days, officially opening on a Saturday and operating through the close of business on Thursday.
According to Brian D. Casey, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority, the changes to the market’s schedule were made to better accommodate the needs of better-end buyers, particularly interior designers, decorative accessories and gift dealers, and smaller independent retailers.
“We have talked extensively with our customers and each of these constituencies has expressed a preference for shopping the High Point Market over a weekend,” Casey said. “Moving to a Saturday opening ensures that all customers will find all showrooms open and available to them, and staffed with the key executives and personnel they need to see in order to move business forward.”
Casey said the market is unique in its scope and ability to draw key buyers and attendees.
“With a market as broad as this is, with all categories across price point, it allows access to several different distribution channels,” he said, adding that High Point typically attracts the top 300 retailers, representing significant purchasing power.
Casey is also optimistic about the spring market and said based on overall position turnout at its October market, he expects April to be strong as well. “People will come even in tough economic times, as proven by our last market,” he said.
An early start date for the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings show (Jan. 6 to 14) kicks the beginning of the winter tabletop and gift show season into high gear.
The big news in Atlanta is the opening of Building Two. Although many of the permanent tabletop and gift showrooms have been well established in Building One for many years, the excitement and anticipation surrounding the debut of a new building has created a buzz.
Gift shows in Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles open the following week, with the full slate of informational seminars and events.
The Chicago Market: Living and Giving includes Beckman’s Handcrafted Show and will run in conjunction with Stylemax, an apparel show. At the same time, the boutique-style Gallery Suites on 12 will debut with additional temporary resources for buyers looking for the latest trends.
The L.A. Mart will be themed around a popular movie, providing the backdrop for food, drink, decor and entertainment. Each day throughout the hours of the market, the specified movie will be played on a flat screen in the elevator lobby with the soundtrack overhead. Between 2 and 4 p.m. each day, the lobby will become the site of a mini-party with themed food and drink. In addition, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 2 and 4 p.m., additional entertainment for guests will be provided. Lastly, on Friday evening from 6 to 8 p.m., there will be additional catering and party-like atmosphere on each floor.
“Every aspect of the L.A. Mart experience is meant to celebrate the special appeal of the West Coast, while at the same time further establish the Mart as the leader among West Coast market venues,” said Tina Waldmier, director of marketing for the L.A. Mart Gift & Home Market. “Despite the economic conditions challenging everyone’s business, the Los Angeles marketplace and its businesses remain strong. We have the diverse regional population and the right product offerings to fuel an active retail market.”
Meanwhile, in New York, luxury tabletop and home entertaining lines will be expanded in the tabletop and housewares division of the New York International Gift Fair to include several tabletop newcomers, while other exhibitors have enlarged their exhibit space. Within the Accent on Design division there is A+: The Young Designer’s Platform, a design “incubator” showcase area that showcases designs, prototypes or finished products from students, recent graduates and new companies. In addition, new Bloggers’ Choice Awards will be presented by alternative media outlets to select Accent on Design exhibitors, with special recognition for top gift, home and lifestyle resources.
The New York Gift Fair will adopt a one-time date pattern shift this January, with all nine of the fair’s divisions opening on Sunday and closing on Thursday.
In March, tabletop vendors and retailers will head to Chicago for the International Home & Housewares Show; tabletop products can be found in the “dine + design” division.
In April, the New York Tabletop Show will run on a four-day, midweek schedule (Tuesday through Friday), expanding the past season’s schedule with the addition of one day. The switch to a shorter, midweek formula has so far been well-received by the industry. The theme of the tabletop show at permanent showroom building 7 W New York will be “Everything for the Bride.” Keynote presentations each day of the show will address such topics as bridal trends, registry tactics and merchandising opportunities.
In addition, Bridal Fashion Week Couture & Luxury New York will be co-located with 7 W New York Tabletop Week. There will be fashion shows showcasing international collections of evening gowns and couture bridal fashion, along with receptions, entertainment and luxury brand exhibits.
The housewares category gets quite busy the first half of 2009. The Atlanta and New York gift shows are growing their assortment of the category and, of course, the International Home & Housewares Show is in March.
At AmericasMart in Atlanta, the housewares category will get new emphasis come January, as the new 2 West building opens with housewares and gourmet food exhibitors on the eighth floor. The focus on housewares came about as the show already had “a decent presence of housewares” and buyers for that category, Kristi Forbes, executive director of sales, AmericasMart, has previously told HFN.
About 95 percent of all housewares exhibitors at the market will be on the eighth floor, Forbes has said. “It makes it easy for the buyers.” The companies that will exhibit in the new space include ones that are expanding, others moving from the temporary booth space, and ones that are brand new to the show as well. Forbes estimated about 80 new lines in the housewares category will be seen at market come January.
One of the highlights of the floor will be the new cooking demo area in the middle. With state-of-the-art equipment such as Viking electrics, it will be the place for cookbook signings, wine tastings and chef demos, Forbes said. A schedule of events for the kitchen is still in the works, she said, and exhibitors will also be able to rent it for a nominal fee to put on their own events.
At the Housewares Show, chef Tyler Florence will give the keynote speech, titled “Beyond the Stovetop: The Business of Being a (Celebrity) Chef,” on March 22. The following day, the “Ten Trends of 2010” will be presented, with Tom Mirabile, vice president, global trend and design, Lifetime Brands, facilitating the panel of retailers. Color expert Lee Eiseman will also give seminars called “Color & Design Trends: De-Mystifying Future Forecasts” and “Nailing the Sale Through Visual Merchandising.”
The Housewares Show will also hold its Specialty Retail University on March 21, an all-day event that includes such educational sessions as “Business Life of Your Store” and “Web and Social Media.”
In addition, the Housewares Show has added childcare services at McCormick Place on show days. The show’s Web site will have schedules of the Housewares Design Theater and the GOHO Cooking Theater as they become available.
The category also continues to be a part of the New York International Gift Fair, where it is grouped with tabletop companies in the Tabletop & Housewares section at Javits. Show organizer GLM said that of the show’s 2,900-plus exhibitors, more than 500 feature “gourmet” products—200 of these are found in the Tabletop & Housewares division, with the others located throughout the show’s nine divisions.
Editor's Note: The International Trade Show Preview will run in the Dec. 22 issue.