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Big business comes out of Vegas

Thomas LesterThomas Lester
The just completed Las Vegas Market was good to a number of rug manufacturers.
     Hundreds of new products were shown, showrooms were opened, expanded and remodeled, and buyers who visited left with receipts and plans for 2014.
     My best market indicators are my eyes. A number of times, I visited showrooms to speak with company officials, only to see them with customers. My personal credo is I should never come between companies and business (after all, they're at market to do business - speaking to me is secondary), so I'm always happy to come back and try again later. In a few cases in Vegas, it was try again and again and again.
     Rizzy Home was one of the showrooms in which my eyes told me the action seemingly never stopped. Mark Ferullo, vice president of parent company RizTex USA, said that was the case, as buyers came to the showroom in droves.
     "We've been slammed. We had a great week. Sunday was slammed; Monday was out of control; Tuesday has been steady, six, seven, eight people at a time," he said.
     With more than 250 new products in the showroom, Rizzy maintained a collection of its best sellers but essentially rolled its inventory over and introduced a number of products ranging in styles, constructions and price points.
     Greg Jordt, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Harounian Rugs International, said that by Monday, HRI had already eclipsed its last market in Las Vegas.
     "In the first two days, we did business equal to the entire market before. It's been incredible for us. We focused - premarket - on going after the western states. It paid off," he said.
     Surya, Jaipur, Capel and other manufacturers also reported large piles of chips to cash as they left Vegas while Joyce Lowe, executive director of Nourison's area rug division, compared traffic in Building C to the heady days of Atlanta markets past.
     While many longtime Vegas vendors had reason to smile, new showrooms from Kaleen and Orian created levels of excitement at the market. Kaleen came back to Sin City after a yearlong absence with a showroom reflective of its new attitude.
     "We had one customer walk in and look around. The first thing they said was ‘Where are we?' It wasn't the same look Kaleen had for years and years. The customers loved it," said Blake Dennard, senior vice president, noting a Vegas-style "KALEEN" lighting display above the bar at the showroom's entrance and a glass conference room in its center. Dennard said it's part of a strategy to reinvent Kaleen to appeal to younger buyers.
     And by all indications, those buyers - and plenty more - were at market in a mood to spend.

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