We fully expect the markets that are now taking place around the country to be strong, productive and rewarding. The only way that outcome can be assured though is if the mills, which happen to have the biggest single investment in markets, promote, promote, promote. There are companies that “put their money where their mouth is,” that work intensely, creatively to bring as many of their retailers and distributors to markets.
There should be no reason to be concerned about sharing your customers at market. Market share is not in peril during markets; it’s a state of business that occurs throughout the year—its growth is a 12-month-a-year process. So, markets can be for everyone; be promoted by everyone and attended by as many buyers as can be mustered—then bring out the food and gifts, and products, too! Simply build a better mousetrap—and then promote it, advertise it and merchandise it aggressively.
Over the years, markets in this industry have been discussed, praised and damned. While the exhibitor has the responsibility of promoting its presence, the success of any event rests almost entirely on the shoulders of the retailer. His attendance is critical, his absence devastating.
In November of 1987, the Retail Floorcovering Institute, the predecessor to the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), held a press conference to make its opinion on markets known. It was an historic meeting on many levels, not the least of which was the actual statement by the organization of its “endorsement and expression of sincere belief of the necessity of the market system.” It would go on to say, “RFI is not endorsing, recommending or supporting any specific number of markets or their timing, location or format. RFI is endorsing, recommending and supporting retailers’ attendance at any and all markets as being a strong vehicle toward improving dealers’ professionalism and profits.”
It was a simple and direct message and one that still rings true today: The leading retail association of the day endorsed, recommended and supported markets. The feeling then was markets are a vital part of the educational process and essential to running a professional, profitable business.
That feeling is still in effect with the WFCA, the industry’s largest retail association, as it is the official sponsor of Surfaces.
The merits of markets are limitless and include new product sources, co-op advertising negotiations, product review, supplier merchandising programs, credit negotiations, special show-only product buys, educational seminars and, perhaps most important, dealer-to-dealer discussions— networking.
Business today has become more complex, more intense and, therefore, business practices require more planning, vision and aggressive strategy.
Keeping pace with the times, using current technologies and proven techniques will solidify a company’s position in the marketplace. Those that lag in the race for market share, drive in a rut, fall by the wayside. The professional retailer is aggressive in his marketing approach, creative in his merchandising, compelling in his advertising, and determined in his readiness to seize opportunities.
Where else can one discuss all this with like minded people, sharing successes, swapping war stories, and so on, than industry markets? From networking with peers to forming or strengthening partnerships with different suppliers these events offer an experience that can’t be duplicated sitting in a store.
In years past, markets were strong, exciting and valuable for all involved. In a concerted effort they can again be worthwhile and rewarding experiences for everyone. The RFI believed it in 1987 and, 23 years later, we still echo that belief.