• Susan Dickenson

Market vendors 'accent-uate' the positive

Surya High Point Market Oct 2017Surya's inspiration vignettes help retailers romance the consumer and sell the story.
Well, the skies may have been gray and gloomy for the start of the 2017 Fall High Point Market, but the climate in the halls and showroom was, and remains, sunny and bright. Across the home accents categories, expansions, launches and new partnerships abound, and some of the vendors we spoke to on opening day were absolutely glowing.

Chris De La Guardia, senior vice president of Ashley Furniture’s accessory division (IHFC H900), was almost speechless … literally. By mid-morning Friday, De La Guardia had walked and talked so many interested buyers through Ashley’s “A La Carte” accessory groupings that his voice was almost gone. “I’ve never seen anything like this; just incredible traffic, and early,” he told us. “In fact, I feel that the market started a little bit earlier. But just seeing the amount of customers coming through the showroom, everybody feels so upbeat.”

It’s been two years since De La Guardia helped launch Ashley’s new accessory division. Today the program numbers close to 1,500 SKUs, with products merchandised across eight themed pods. “Two years later, it’s all come together. It’s time to take a look and see what we’re doing,” De La Guardia told Home Accents Today. “This is a game changer for us.”

We’ll take a deeper look at Ashley’s accelerating accessories business in tomorrow’s edition. For now, here’s more of what home accents vendors are saying about the market – and business – this week in High Point.

Moe Samieian Jr., president, Moe’s Home Collection: Our expectations are pretty high. With our appointments and where we’re at, we feel like it’s going to be a good market. We’ve got tons of new products, with 60% new to High Point. I think (our customers) are feeling good. Their response has been really great and everybody is pumped up for the fourth quarter. (IHFC D430)

Cameron Capel, VP of national accounts, Capel Rugs: I’m really pumped about this market. The showroom is so colorful and bright. Anthony (Baratta, a new launch for Capel) is going to be great. Anthony is America’s designer. It’s Americana. He’s always done custom things so we’re trying to take his designs and bring them to a price point everybody can understand. We’ve got rugs across all different constructions. And we’re looking forward to having Anthony, and (Capel licensing partner) Genevieve Gorder in the showroom on Sunday. (MS 112)

Luis Ruesga, CEO, Zuo: This is the first time we’ve been open since Wednesday. We’re ready to see as many people as possible.

I think this is going to be the best market ever. The economy is strong, and everybody we’ve talked to has been very positive about the economy. (IHFC D502)

I think accessory sales are crucial for the success of the brick and mortar stores. Accessories drive furniture sales because they keep the store top of mind. Case goods, for example, are bought every six to nine years, so is that really the only time we want them thinking about the store? With accessories, the customer can come in throughout the year. They’re in there more often which means they’re going to be seeing this and that, and all of a sudden they’ll start saying, “that sofa looks better than what I’ve got.” Plus, accessories can be an impulse sale, and they’re giftable.

As we’re coming into the fourth quarter, from a retail perspective we’ve got varying levels of success… dealing with situations like the flooding, storms, fires. That’s something that long term will translate to lots of business, but short term, it’s holding it back a little. Again, it’s about creating that opportunity so that at the end of the day brick and mortar stores are important. What we have to do is keep it relevant, keep the stores exciting and interesting and different. Change things up, give different looks so that when the shopper is coming into the store they’re seeing different things. In this industry, first and foremost, we sell inspiration. (SP 4100)

Aviva Stanoff, president, Aviva Stanoff Design: Success at market is not related to the numbers directly. The success of market is in connecting with people in a meaningful manner… inspiring, supporting and representing. I like being here to represent high-end, American-made products. I don’t actually have sales goals; my goal is to engage and inspire people to elevate their environments. (IHFC IH606)

Luca Rensi, partner, Bungalow 5: We’re in a fabulous new showroom this market, and it’s going to be a fantastic show. Empirically speaking in comparison to previous shows, we are seeing more people than usual. Overall, there seems to be less uncertainty than last year. People are interested in buying more. I think the fourth quarter of 2017 will show the same kind of great growth we’ve seen in the first three quarters of the year. But the fourth quarter is a “holiday quarter” so sales usually slow a little. But overall, I can say every quarter this hear has been better than the same quarter last year. (IHFC IH 610)

Shari Hammer, CEO and creative director, Siscovers: Our growth is solid and business is great. We have a lot of new product. All of our prints are changing business. It’s tech driving fashion. (IHFC H312)

Darren Chew, owner, District Eight: Because we sell game tables, we expect a good market in the run up to Christmas. This year has been pretty positive. A lot of projects – people opening restaurants and bars – have resulted in requests for our designs, so I think the year will finish strong. (IHFC IH212)

Thomas Lester and Tracy Bulla contributed to this story.

Susan DickensonSusan Dickenson | Editor in Chief
sdickenson@homeaccentstoday.com

Susan Dickenson is the editor in chief of Home Accents Today, where she has spent more than a decade covering trending topics, best practices and news items pertaining to the manufacturing, retail and interior design segments of the home furnishings industry. A graduate of UNC, Dickenson spent 15 years in the Washington, D.C., area, writing and researching in both the public and private sector. After relocating to her native North Carolina in 2003, she freelanced as a writer of general interest, business, garden and home items for local and national publications before joining Home Accents Today in 2006 as retail editor.

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Join HAT's editors for PBM News Desk, an on-site content creation hub in the lobby of the Centers at High Point during the 2017 Fall High Point Market. (Sponsored by Klarna.)

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