Atlanta International Area Rug Market: Dog days of summer livened up with host of new products

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ATLANTA—Comedian Woody Allen is credited with the line “80% of success is showing up.” That summed up the mood of the Atlanta International Rug Market last month, held during what even Southerners consider a scorching summer.

Chas Sydney, senior vice president of business development at AmericasMart, owner of the show, said traffic appeared to depend on price. “Many of the [companies specializing in] machine-made offerings had good traffic.” That is likely due to the continued squeeze on the economy.

While there’s no doubt the summer market lags behind January in terms of attendance, Sydney said it still plays an important role. “The industry always has new offerings it wants to show and as long as people want to come to Atlanta, we’re going to keep doing what we do.”

Exhibitors were not disappointed. Leon Capel, chairman and CEO, Capel, said the market went as well as expected considering the economic slowdown. “A summer market is a summer market. We had good attendance, but not outstanding.”

New from Capel was the Eloquent Garden collection, which has a suggested retail price of$1,999 for an 8 x 11. Part of the appeal of the design is what Capel called “eyebrash, a slight and gradual shading of colors across the face of the rugs.”

The company also displayed Flair, complete with a microcosm of colors and geometric shapes, a 5 x 8 retailing for $349. The Candy line, also unveiled at the show, featured bright, funky designs in reversible chenille.

Tim Schantz, manager of professional accounts for Dynamic Rugs, agreed with Capel in that the summer market offered few surprises. “We’ve pretty much seen everyone we thought we’d see and more.” The company has been showing its wares at the market for eight years, he said, and has done well with its multiple offerings from handmade to machine made, from the traditional to the more modern looks.

Some companies used the market to prepare for the fall selling season. For example, Safavieh was previewing its Safavieh Kids collection. Carol Tisch, director of marketing, said the rugs offer a youthful appeal and come in a wide array of colors and sizes, all suited for a younger audience. With a suggested retail price of $400 for a 6 x 9, she noted the offerings are also affordable for growing families during these tight times. The rugs are all hand-tufted of 100% wool.

At Orian Rugs, which specializes in machine-made polypropylene offerings, Jim Powell, accounts manager, and Scott Miller, design director, said the modern shag offerings are quite popular now. Many of those rugs feature two or three yarn patterns and include a silver, metallic look that customers seem to be looking for. The 5 x 8s retail for around $179. Kim Barta, brand manager for Shaw Rugs, agreed that “shags don’t die,” as the company was boasting several new offerings of this nature during the market, hoping to take advantage of those looking for both solid colors and muti-color schemes. One example was Artistry, a machine-made collection with a 5 x 7 having a suggested retail price of $369.

The company is also working hand-in-hand with retailers, Barta explained, to help them make the sale through its Design Your Space kiosks. The kiosks provide a touch-screen computer that allow customers to find rugs by name, style and even color and then save their choices in a personal directory. Barta said the company offers free software and product updates free of charge.

Shaw is not only thinking big with its offerings. The company’s collection of Holiday rugs are made in the U.S. and available for shipment early this fall. The rugs are available in the accent size of 3 x 4.

-Joe Fondetti

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