Checking in: Random ramblings from the road

Home Editorials Checking in: Random ramblings from the road

by Steve Feldman

The end of the year is supposed to be the slow time. Not any more. There hasn’t been one week since September where I haven’t been on a plane, train or in an automobile. The good news is wherever I’ve been, retailers and distributors have been telling me November was much better than October. Good stuff.

One of the great anomalies in this industry occurred last month when two high-profile events were staged back to back. What’s so strange about that? Well, they both were in the same city—Colorado Springs—and the same hotel: the Broadmoor. One morning I’m having breakfast with the North American Association of Floor Covering Distributors, and without changing rooms later that night I’m enjoying the company of many of the best retailers in the country at the first Karastan convention in four years.

A few thoughts on Karastan. Attend one of these events, keep your mouth shut and your ears open and you emerge a more intelligent human being. Never can a person spend time with a better group of retailers. It’s the National Floorcovering Alliance (many of its members are also Karastan dealers) on steroids. About 170 dealers made the trip, and I would guess 75 are among the top 100 dealers in the U.S.

Here’s the best thing: I was talking to Tom Lape, president of Mohawk Residential, last week at the Floorscapes/ColorCenter convention, and he told me these dealers not only spoke with their wallets, but when the dust cleared their commitments doubled Karastan’s projections.

What does this say? 1. Karastan came to the table with the right products and merchandising at the right prices. 2. The best retailers continue to invest in their businesses, whether it be product, advertising, marketing, etc. 3. The best retailers are seeing the uptick and are locked and loaded for the recovery.

Incidentally, you have to give props to the Karastan folks, David Duncan and his team in particular. Even though this event was scaled down from past years, it is still the premier, first-class event in the industry, befitting of the high-end brand. Whether it’s displaying new products in high-style vignettes; whether it was the appearance of noted sommelier Andrea Robinson for wine tasting and tips during dinner; or little things like hot chocolate and mini high-end desserts in the showroom, Karastan always does it right— and with class.

By the way, there was more security at the Broadmoor for any flooring event than I’ve ever experienced. I later found out concurrent to the Karastan event was a weekend retreat for newly elected governors that was attended by 14 freshmen and 14 veterans. Pretty cool.

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