By Deena C. Bouknight
HIGH POINT, N.C.—Area rug companies reported a positive showing at this year’s fall International Home Furnishings Market, held Oct. 13 to 18. While many businesses and consumers are waiting on the results of the tight presidential race before making major financial decisions, the home furnishings industry appears a little less reserved.
Analyst Jerry Epperson of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, is optimistic that if the stock market and auto industry are guides, the U.S. could have a dramatic economic recovery. He pointed out the lack of household mobility that has depressed both housing and furnishings sales over the last four years could be about to change.
Thomas Itty, marketing director for Nourison, felt confidence is increasing in the industry. Nourison’s showroom at the market was “busy.” The company’s goal—as with many area rug companies—is to offer a range of products and services to appeal to retailers.
Doug Bassett, president of Vaughn-Bassett, a giant in the world of wood bedroom furniture, told The Greensboro News & Record although market attendance was still off by about 3% to 4%, top U.S. retailers with “buying power” were in attendance. Smaller “mom and pop” retailers were few in attendance due to the soft economy.
Itty said the value-conscious customers are the target market for many High Point shoppers. Nourison’s Waverly brand, for example, caters to these customers by hitting them not only with the familiarity of the Nourison name, but also with the recognizable and trustworthy Waverly brand, which offers “quality at a value price.”
By highlighting brand and designer names, he noted, retailers have more opportunity to attract consumers to a variety of rugs. “They often gravitate toward names they know…these names give the products weight and consumers more confidence.”
Two new collections, Aura of Flora, and Sun N Shade, are marketed around $199 retail for a 5 x 9. These are “very bright, attention-grabbing,” printed rugs, made of 100% polyester. Sun N Shade, an indoor-outdoor rug, is UV-coated, mildew-proof and fade-resistant. Itty explained the whole indoor-outdoor rug category is growing significantly.
Celebrity designer and HGTV host Candice Olson, who lends her name to Surya rugs, priced between $399 and $3,000, visited High Point to discuss the inspiration behind her line. She has been working with Surya for four years and her products have gained a following, says the company’s president Satya Tiwari. “Many of our retail and designer customers are passion- ate followers of her signature aesthetic,” and for them to meet her in person was “a treat.”
Designer Barclay Butera has also garnered fans. His name has become synonymous with luxury upscale interior design projects throughout the U.S. He appeared at market to unveil a collection of rugs for Nourison titled Kaliedascope. These New Zealand wool, power-loom woven rugs are a “bold mix of modern images and colors.”
Retailers and consumers also equate the Biltmore Estate brand to anything luxury-oriented, noted officials at Capel Rugs, which again banked on the brand’s popularity by high- lighting its Biltmore line.
Biltmore Estate is a grand, 250-room family home—the largest in America—in Asheville, N.C., and Capel has worked with it since 2005. The goal is to offer rugs that convey the estate’s elegance, yet are practical and affordable for today’s consumers. Biltmore rugs are available in a variety of styles, ranging from traditional to contemporary.
“Our philosophy about our partnership with Capel is to let the idea about Biltmore quality, tradition and family truly be the pillars of the product design,” says Tim Rosebrook, vice president and general manager of licensing for Biltmore.
Besides brand names, color was used as ammunition to entice retailers into showrooms. Feizy Rugs wowed traffic with an entryway that screamed vibrancy—rugs of bright purples, pinks, yellows, oranges and blues hung in a coordinated presentation to greet visitors.
Some of these new rugs in bold hues were African-inspired patterns from the Mambasa collection. These are hand-knotted in pure bamboo silk and show a subtle shimmer in designs meant for transitional to contemporary décor. Described as “radiant,” a new design was added to the Ouray collection as well. This rug is hand knotted in a 100% silk pile and features distinct details.
This fall, Company C offered market attendees a glimpse into the New York fashion life by calling attention to its colorful introductions in a runway-style event. Company C invited Gretchen Aubuchon to give a talk that addressed the many consumers who are fashion-conscious with their clothing, but fail to convey fashion sense in their homes.
From runway to home
Aubuchon is founder and editor-in-chief of Fashion + Décor, which takes runway fashions and pairs them with home fashions. In a fun, upbeat expression of color and style, Company C showed attendees how to bring a more fashion-forward message into their showrooms. Company C co-founders conveyed that while nature’s palette is their main source of inspiration for a variety of rugs and other coordinating home fashions, clothing colors and designs inspire as well. The spring 2013 collection that was unveiled at market saw “fresh” colors added into designs: Wine, Julep, Capri Blue and Mango, for examples.
Finally, Nourison provided retailers with a 21st century marketing tool to bring an upbeat, fashion-forward element into stores nationwide. The company released 30 short videos, featuring music, colorful vignettes, and natural photography, that retailers can play in their stores or use in advertisements. Nourison’s Rug Boutique, or retail rug display program, featured video looping next to the High Point showroom window with the actual display.
Other video montages played throughout Nourison’s showroom.
“Consumers are looking for additional information before making a purchase,” Itty explained, “and these short, hard-to-turn-off videos will provide them the facts they need in a fun and entertaining way.”
The videos are available on Nourison’s website or can be viewed on YouTube under the user name nourisonrugs. Each video is two minutes. Thirty videos were available at the fall market, Itty said, and there are plans to offer more videos on Nourison products and pro- grams by the end of this year.
The spring International Home Furnishings Market will take place April 20 to 25.