Reports on and pictures of exhibitors are on Walking The Market Section of Rug News andDesign. As of this writing, Kathleen and I have posted approximately 30 exhibitors. We expect to post another 30 within the next week – so keep checking. This year we focused primarily on “DISPLAY”. How does a vendor pull a prospective buyer into the showroom. Our pictures focus on the showrooms we thought pulled prospects the best.
High Point went well, despite the rain which locked people into buildings Saturday was bright and sunny, there was exuberant activity. And then the rain, wind and cold set in. It was perhaps the most miserable market I have attended in more than 40 years. For my first market in 3-1/2 years, I hired a motorized chair to speed my way between showrooms and buildings.
There were by our count about 120 rug vendors in High Point, well spread out. Most of the 120 carried rugs as an accessory. Almost 100 of them would be called boutique companies, rather than full service companies with a broad deep national following.
Markets are Essential for Buyers and Exhibitors
By walking and looking, a retailer or design firm could find anything and everything. As a practical matter the boutique firms will not be able to find the retailer/design firm simply because they don’t have the scale and resources to put enough salespeople on the road. And conversely the small boutique firm or decorator has to come to market to find product, because they are too small to make it profitable for a rep to call on. At best, a retail buyer can visit 25 vendors in the course of a market
The larger vendors by definition have their act together. They show four collections a year. They have salespeople to follow up. They support their channels of distribution. They dominate the major channels of distribution. They have the major buyers on speed dial. If a vendor does not have the buyer on speed dial, they are at a disadvantage. If a major seller does not have a buyer on speed dial, and calling weekly, that retailer/design firm is not on the primary customer list. Deep is the first word for inventory, and then broad.
The boutique world is very different. Service is defined differently. Presentation is defined differently. Vendors in this channel focus on one or two narrow channels of distribution. Their showroom is the billboard of who they are. They take orders at the show and ship when they get home. They may or may not get reorders between shows. They live and die by shows. The more they depend on the accessory business the more shows they go to. Broad is the first word for inventory, and then they are deep in their best sellers.
Because at best a buyer can see 25 vendors, every buyer sees a different set of vendors and sees a different trade show geared to their individual needs. In order for a buyer to be effective, they have to walk the market at trade shows. Only then can they be attuned to resources to the rapidly changing environment. That is one of the reasons we at Rug News andDesign produce Walking the Market. It is not perfect, but it is available in print and online.