Showtime exhibitors are 'cautiously optimistic'

April 10, 2003

HIGH POINT – After two years of what Bud Caywood describes as the "clock stopping," thanks to 9/11 and the economy, he and others were upbeat about the opportunity to show new goods at Showtime (3-9 April; High Point). Some 200-plus exhibitors and 800 buying companies turned out for the 23rd edition of the International Textile Market Association's bi-annual event.

As Caywood, of Arpel Leather Corporation (High Point), further explained, "We're (Americans) a society that doesn't like to sit still. And we don't like to keep money in our pockets for very long. We think this will be a better year for Arpel."

Caywood said the domestic leather company's appointment book was full during Showtime. Swatch placements were high, and orders were already coming in during the third week in January, he said.

Caywood attributes some of the interest to several new patterns in rich red tones. "Red is hot right now. We believe consumers want to see color. They don't want anything too drab."

Roger Berkley, president of Weave (Hackensack, N.J.), said, "Every possible appointment was booked during Showtime. This indicates to us that it looks like things are a little better than they have been for the last few years. But we're cautiously optimistic."

"We had slightly more appointments that usual," said Roger Gilmartin, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Covington Industries (New York). "With the market (in High Point) being early this year and pre-market even earlier, the pressure meant that people made decisions on the spot. A lot of times, Showtime is just a sampling exercise, but if they liked orders this time they often placed them. And I think that the fact that people are actually placing orders is a positive sign. It means they feel good about their businesses for the moment."

The exhibition was "excellent" for those companies within the Purcell Letchinger Group and its new Global Textile Group, based in Hickory, North Carolina. President Andrew Purcell said, "It's a great way to start 2003. We've had 110 appointments scheduled for Purcell Letchinger and 85 for Global Textile. There was a great response to the high-end and mid-priced lines. You have to go into a new year with a positive attitude, but business at this Showtime exceeds my expectations. We expect 2003 to certainly be better than 2001 and 2002. There is a light at the end of the tunnel."

But all agree that light could be extinguished, at least temporarily, if the United States enters into a full-scale war with Iraq.

"Everything gets knocked back if we go to war," said Berkley. "With war, there are too many uncertainties. There won't be too many people decorating their homes. And the President's economic package doesn't seem to offer any impetus for consumers to spend money just to be spending money."

Adds Caywood, "If we go to war, people will definitely want to wait and see what's going to happen. When you're unsure, you tend to become stagnant."

Said Gilmartin, "When our glorious president decides what he's going to do about war, then I'll know more about what's going to happen with our business. We're certainly not immune to what's going on in the world around us. And until we have a better handle on what's happening, we're just going to batten down the hatches and hang tough."

The next Showtime is scheduled for July 14-17, 2003.

Subscribe to Receive Industry News Alerts

How would you like to receive news?