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Rug industry reborn in High Point this spring

The rug category is experiencing a paradigm shift in High Point.

Rug showrooms are being integrated with other home accessories categories, and that development is opening new opportunities for growth. Even more importantly, rug vendors are finally accepting the idea that they are not mere visitors from a galaxy far, far away — they are part of the larger universe of home accessories.

In the past, many rug showrooms huddled together in single-purpose corridors in the International Home Furnishings Center's third floor Design Center and on two floors of Historic Market Square. How depressing.

Furniture buyers came to High Point to buy case goods, upholstery, lamps and whatnot. If they had time, maybe they'd make a trip to the rug showrooms. Often there wasn't time.

Over the past few years, a lot of big and small rug vendors got fed up and left High Point. Those old rug corridors have since been remodeled and re-tenanted with other types of products.

For the rug showrooms that remained, it was a magic moment.

Shazam! There was walk-by traffic, new faces and curious customers who wanted to learn about something new and beautiful. The rug business didn't die at High Point. It was reborn.

We've seen a handful of rug vendors exploring various ways of integrating with other products over the past five years, at least. But this April, these explorations tipped over into a full-fledged movement at IHFC, Market Square and Showplace.

After an absence of three years, Shaw Living was back in High Point in a newly remodeled multi-product corridor in the IHFC. Down the hallway, Trans-Ocean and sister company Liora Manne settled into new digs after many years at Market Square. Momeni closed its Design Center showroom a year ago but was back in a large temporary space in the IHFC third floor Pavilions. Oriental Weavers-Sphinx left the IHFC a year ago and this season was back in a large showroom at Showplace.

New tenants are also coming on stream. Bashian, Kalaty and Renaissance Carpet & Tapestries, three venerable vendors of handmade rugs, opened their first High Point showrooms this spring.

Let's be realistic. The rug business is too tiny to exist on a planet of its own. It cannot survive by catering to a group of “core” rug specialty stores, the few remaining department stores and a handful of carriage trade furniture stores. If this industry is to prosper, it is necessary to embrace the larger world of home fashions. Rug vendors can no longer afford the luxury of doing business the old-fashioned way.

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