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Rug sellers should know what peers are doing

Lissa Wyman -- Furniture Today, October 1, 2012

Lissa Wyman Rug editorLissa Wyman Rug editor
I was wrong. Last month I predicted disaster for the multiple rug markets running in the New York-New Jersey area Sept. 9-12. Instead, all five shows worked synergistically to make New York the heart of the rug industry for a brief glorious week.
     All price points were represented, with particular emphasis on the very high end and the very low end. There were four high-end shows, including the New York International Carpet Show at 7 W 34th St., the Rug Show at the Javits Center, the Metro Market at importer showrooms in New York and New Jersey, and the ORICA show in Secaucus, N.J. The low to mid price points were emphasized at the New York Home Fashions Week Market and various other venues.
    Not that everything was perfect, of course. At times I met with uncomprehending looks as I mentioned the difficulty of covering so many events. In many cases, one end of the spectrum wasn't aware of the existence of the other end.
     And sadly, I saw very few buyers crossing the invisible barricades at the various types of show. Could this be symptomatic of a more serious problem in the rug industry?
     The high-end shows cater to architects, designers and hand-knot rug shops. The Fashion Week Market is aimed at mass market retailers. I don't think it's wise for either group to ignore the other or, more importantly, to be ignorant of each other.
     A lot of people in the business like to think there are multiple rug industries that are distinct and separate from one another. That is simply not true. A rug is a rug is a rug, whether you pay $99 at Kmart or $9,000 with an interior designer.
     The easiest way to find out what each channel is doing is to visit a variety of stores, websites and catalogs. It can sometimes be painful to venture into parts unknown, but it is always enlightening. (Egad! That flat weave rug that sells for $139 at Home Depot looks just like the one that has a $599 price tag in the rug specialty store!)
     Another suggestion is to visit multiple markets. The High Point Market offers a perfect opportunity. Not only are there all types of rug vendors at all price points, there are multiple product categories that all work together to create a total home environment.
     Most importantly, no one should live in a private neighborhood of their own little price point or product. In order to survive, we must all be part of the larger world.

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