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An Inside Look


Thomas Lester is the assistant editor of Home Accents Today and Furniture/Today.  A veteran journalist and storyteller, Lester will bring the stories behind the partnerships, product innovations and personalities in the home accents and furniture industries to life in this blog.

  • A new set of standards for ecommerce?

    At the March 12 VIP Roundtable focusing on ecommerce held by MicroD in Charlotte, N.C., one of the issues that was brought up among the panel was the lack of standardization in the industry. Charles White, owner of retailer RW Designs, cited the example set by the propane gas industry, which agreed upon a standard valve so all propane tanks will fit all grills. Jesse Akre, MicroD’s senior vice president for ecommerce, noted that such a movement toward a certain degree of conformity (though not necessarily in construction or design) would probably help generate more sales across the ... Read More
  • Innovations abound in rug world

    Over the next two editions of Furniture/Today, we celebrate innovation across several categories in the industry. A number of rug manufacturers have gotten on board with groundbreaking ideas in the way rugs are made and in the finished product. Prior to the winter market cycle, I had a chance to speak with Brandon Culpepper, Mohawk Inds.’ vice president of specialty sales, about a number of new fibers that Mohawk is using for rugs in its Karastan and American Rug Craftsmen brands. The story of SmartStrand, EverStrand, PermaStrand and Wear-Dated Nylon was a major part of the rug introductions for ... Read More
  • Big rug business comes out of Vegas Market

    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 ... Read More
  • Rug outlook positive as calendar turns

    As rug manufacturers roll out their newest and best during the winter cycle of shows, they're hoping to build on the strong year they just completed.Many vendors indicated that 2013 was strong - some conveyed astronomical growth figures, including an eye-popping 60% growth reported by Jaipur. While they're coming off a good year, a number of manufacturers are jumping in with both feet as we start with a fresh page on a brand new calendar. I just wrapped up a visit to Georgia to check out many of the introductions during the Atlanta International Area Rug Market at ... Read More
  • Take time to promote your rug line

    Stores that have the best fortune selling rugs are the ones that take the time to effectively promote them.While that's not exactly groundbreaking stuff, oftentimes the truth is right in front of you if you're willing to find it.There are a number of ways to market rugs in-store and online, each of which can result in better sales and a more complete décor story for those retailers prepared to take it seriously. From creative displays that include racks, gallery displays and vignettes (and of course, a well-educated sales staff), the effort to showcase rugs in the ... Read More
  • Many paths can lead to success

    Color wasn't the only thing bright coming out of rug showrooms near the end of the Oct. 19-24 High Point Market. In many spaces, outlooks matched the cheery displays hanging on rug racks. A number of officials in the rug world said they had buyer and/or sales numbers at or near record levels during the busy week that concluded last month. Many companies introduced new products in hopes of wrapping up a good year. Those introductions were reportedly well-received. Capel had the initial presentation of its Hableland rugs in partnership with Hable Construction. Nourison officially launched its full ... Read More
  • Hail to the Rug!

    In order to be sure I'm doing my best to stay on top of industry news, from time to time, I'll do a quick Google News scan for items containing the keyword "rug." Often, the stories I find are things I already wrote about, tips for rug placement in the home or best cleaning practices. On occasion, I'll find something truly unique or interesting, such as this article from the Webster-Kirkwood Times in St. Louis. While sisters Nola Heidbreder and Linda Pietz already teach rug making, the duo could probably do well giving American history tutorials - they ... Read More
  • Rug pays homage to Punk era

    The anti-establishment Punk movement shook popular music to its core in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Its fast and loud sound and attitude were intentionally opposite from the musical stylings that had been increasingly taking hold in the industry.It also spawned a style all its own, with edginess and nonconformity moving to the fore as Punk carved out its niche in culture.Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of New York put on a Punk exhibition, looking back on the era. British-born artist and textile designer Rosemary Hallgarten took inspiration from the exhibit and created the Punk Rug, featuring zippers ... Read More
  • Ten points for successful celebrity licensing

    Licensing is a major staple in the home furnishings industry. From HGTV to Kathy Ireland to Angelo Surmelis to Biltmore to Tommy Bahama to the Duck Dynasty crew to Paula Deen (as of this writing), it's not uncommon to see the names, logos and visages of famous people or brands on or associated with products.During the American Home Furnishings Alliance's June 24-26 marketing meeting held in Raleigh, industry veteran and home furnishings consultant Ed Tashjian gave a presentation on celebrity licensing in the home furnishings industry, including what to look for and what to watch out for ... Read More
  • Getting a handle on the industry

    Coming into this new position as associate editor for Furniture Today, I knew I would be getting to know lots about all sorts of different product categories, with a little more time spent on the rug side of the business. Prior to coming to work here, I knew very little about rugs. In the broadest strokes possible, my knowledge consisted of the following: Rug making is one of the world's oldest industries, rugs can have fascinating designs, and used well, they can really tie a room together.Perhaps that's overstating it, but the point is the best thing ... Read More