12/6/2007 5:10:58 PM
Showtime off to rousing start
Susan M. Andrews -- Furniture Today, 12/5/2007 6:56:00 AM

Event reports record attendance, upbeat attitudes

HIGH POINT — Strong attendance numbers and an upbeat vibe among buyers and exhibitors are combining to create the liveliest and most productive Showtime in years, according to many at the semiannual fabric show here.

Even Sunday, which usually is a slow day for the temporary exhibitors in the Suites at Market Square, was busy. Kiran Singh, president of Laura & Kiran Fabrics, said it “was the best Showtime Sunday we’ve ever had.”

By 3 p.m. Sunday, the International Textile Market Assn. had registered 300 buying groups. By noon Tuesday, 791 buying groups had checked in at the show, compared with 562 at the end of Tuesday during the last show in June.

Despite recent news of furniture store closings — and ongoing reports of a slowdown in housing and increasing raw material prices for fabric production — textile suppliers have focused on their customers’ needs and developed more interesting textured body cloths, more eco-friendly goods and warehousing and delivery programs to help reduce inventory for upholstery manufacturers programs.

The absence of former giants Quaker and Joan created opportunities for the rest of the industry’s fabric suppliers, who are taking full advantage of the opportunity. Many are bringing in new programs of competitively priced textured and pile construction plains, and are making inroads on the suede category, which represents a lot of unmoving inventory cluttering warehouses and retail floors currently.

Elevators were packed in the Market Square Textile Tower and there were rarely empty aisles in the Suites at Market Square temporary spaces.

Today, 77 Showtime exhibitors are opening their booths and showrooms to designers who are in town for Designer Wednesday at the High Point Design Center, an association of high-end showrooms. Even though some Showtime participants may not sell directly to the designers, they will help them source through jobbers.

“We hope a lot of designers will come over to Showtime today,” said Catherine Morsell, executive director of ITMA. “We’re anxious to do anything we can to help establish High Point at a destination for designers.”

The Design Center showrooms will be open again tomorrow so that visitors can visit Showtime today.

Complete Showtime coverage will appear in Monday’s print edition of Furniture/Today.

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