Summer Rug Market Review - Aug/Sep 2012
By Brian Hamilton
Optimism seemed to be inching up despite plenty of uncertainty among both buyers and exhibitors at the Summer Rug Market at Atlanta’s AmericasMart. There were serious buyers, but fewer of them than would be expected in a normal economy, as has been typical at the market in recent years. And the number of browsers also appeared to be down as traffic in the hallways, especially on the normally busy Thursday, was light. However, some of the major showrooms appeared to be fairly active.
Exhibitors said they believe the impending elections are creating even more uncertainty than usual among consumers, who aren’t quite sure what to expect from the economy and are still willing to postpone what they see as a deferrable purchase. Not coincidentally, rug manufacturers, even some of the high-end players, were heavily focused on lower price point products for this show. The exhibitors we spoke to seemed guardedly optimistic that sales this year would at least be on par with 2011.
One very noticeable change at the market this year was the sheer number of new products that featured bright, vibrant colors, which implies that consumers are likely to be more upbeat as well. Blues were re-emerging, but it was also easy to find bright yellows, oranges, reds, greens, purples and just about everything in between. There also seemed to be more simple, open patterns, and exhibitors featured everything from florals to geometrics, trying to appeal to a wide variety of customers.
There also appeared to be very little emphasis on sustainable products at this year’s show. In the past we have seen showroom displays set up touting a manufacturer’s green story. This year that element was largely missing.
This was the first summer show under new vice president of leasing Kevin Malkiewicz. He took over from longtime manager Chas Sydney, who retired after last year’s summer market, ending a 31 year career. Exhibitors said it appeared to be a smooth transition.
Malkiewicz had worked with Sydney for over a decade and knows the buyers and exhibitors well. He says exhibitors who have been away from the markets are showing interest in returning, and some current exhibitors want to expand.
Shaw Living showed 25 additions to its Evertouch nylon Bob Timberlake collection, a higher price point, woven collection (suggested retail $739 for a 5’5”x7’9”). Timberlake’s designs are influenced by weaving and quilting patterns, as well as the Arts and Crafts movement. Some of the styles are named Field Feathers, Weaver’s Blanket, Pagosa Springs, Traders Blanket, and Queen Anne’s Lace.
Shaw also introduced eight new vivid shags as part of its woven Mirabella collection, which made its debut in January. These Evertouch nylon products have a suggested retail price of $199 for a 5’x7’6”. Colors range from beige to green to purple, with multiple hues blended into each rug.
Shaw also had an extensive display of its HGTV branded rugs, with 56 products (seven designs in eight colors) in its Grandeur collection and 45 in its Intrigue collection. These were designed to go with HGTV branded Bassett furniture.
Nourison had its eye-catching Vista collection on display ($299 for a 6’x9’). It’s a 100% polyester collection and it features bright colors and hand carving. Another value product at the opposite end of the color spectrum was its Graphic Illusions, a 50% polyester, 50% acrylic monochromatic line.
However, Nourison’s most unusual product offering was the Barclay Butera collection, named for the well known California designer. Nourison had an evening event at the market to roll out the new line, and Butera attended. The overdyed animal hide products ($1,999) were some of the brightest and most striking products at the show. Nourison also offers a non-floor companion product, a clever “foldable cube,” which can be used for everything from storage to a footstool to a seat. As implied, they fold up for easy storage. These retail for $399.
Nourison has recently begun to put more emphasis on rug sales in the furniture store channel and through designers.
Oriental Weavers was emphasizing its indoor/outdoor Bali collection. This category is its fastest growing, with six styles among its top 40 in sales. Bali, which features 14 polypropylene designs, comes in colors like gray, gold and slate blue and starts at $129 retail for a 5’x8’.
Another new introduction was the Tessa line, a machine-tufted printed nylon collection. It features a heavy construction with contemporary looks and bright colors like tangerine orange and starburst yellow.
Kasbah was another new nylon entry, featuring indigo blues and bright oranges in muted, abstract designs. This U.S. made rug comes in 16 new patterns and starts at $399 retail.
This market was the first for Brandon Culpepper in his new role as the head of specialty sales for Mohawk, which includes Karastan, Mohawk Select, and e-commerce. Culpepper, however, had plenty of experience in the rug business in his previous jobs at Orian, Kas and Dalyn.
Karastan was featuring two new patterns (not yet named) in its Bellingham Collection. The collection generally features muted vintage tones. One new pattern had the look of the digital representation of sound waves, while the other had the Southwestern look of an old Indian blanket. They’re both 100% New Zealand wool and retail for $699 for a 5’x8’ rug.
Copyright 2012 Floor Focus
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