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Rug sources playing better with others in industry

Lissa Wyman Rug editorLissa Wyman Rug editor
I predict that 2013 will be the year that the rug business stops playing coy and enters into a full relationship with the home furnishings industry.
     In October, AmericasMart in Atlanta announced a massive rebranding of its fourth floor and the beginning of integration of major home accent exhibitors into the former sanctum-sanctorum of the four-floor Area Rug Center. The kickoff vendor in the newly rebranded floor is Four Hands, which has opened a 12,000- square-foot home accessories showroom.
     Then things started happening FAST. Surya announced that it was moving off the rug campus, opening a 13,500-square-foot showroom on the 11th floor of AmericasMart. Safavieh announced a new 3,000- square-foot home accessories space across the aisle from its fifth floor rug showroom, then announced its entry into the lamp category. In early January, Momeni said it would open a new fourth floor AmericasMart showroom devoted to home accessories.
     I believe other rug companies will be watching these changes closely. And if they are successful, there will be much more integration of rugs with home accents in the future. And I hope that other home accessories companies will be moving on to the once-hallowed Rug Center floors.
     I'm not a fortune teller, just an observer. And by simple observation, I think this change in the orientation of the rug business is inevitable. The seeds of this change were planted several years ago by both the Las Vegas and High Point markets. When Las Vegas opened, management was firm about not having clusters of same-category showrooms on each floor. The founders' vision was a seamless home furnishings fair composed of many categories showing together. I remember the crying and moaning from the rug people! "This isn't how people buy rugs," they moaned, "We're different. We're special!" Haha. Now rug companies love the hustle of the traffic as NEW buyers walk through the floors.
     Remember the great rug exodus from High Point? For years, rug showrooms were encapsulated on the third floor Design Center of the International Home Furnishings Center. Then the Great Recession hit and many rug tenants picked up sticks and left. But a funny thing happened then. Lots of lighting and home accessories companies moved into the vacated rug showrooms and the remaining rug vendors suddenly got a shot at some brand new customers. Now the entire third floor has been revamped, and rug companies have returned to live happily alongside their home accents neighbors.
     While many rug companies have diversified their offerings as part of this shift in focus to home furnishings, others are looking in new directions. For example, Loloi has partnered with high design home accessories vendors who show side-by-side with Loloi rugs in massive new showrooms in High Point and Las Vegas.
     We think there will be LOTS of fun ahead. And it's all good.

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