RUG ACTIVITY PICKS UP AT FLOORING AMERICA AND CARPET ONE WINTER 2020 CONNEXTION CONVENTIONS
PHOENIX -- The Flooring America and Carpet One Floor & Home winter conneXtion conventions held Jan. 5-7 at the Phoenix Convention Center featured the most extensive array of rugs and rug displays that has been seen in years.
Mainstay suppliers, including Kaleen, Karastan, and Nourison, were joined by relative co-op newcomers Palmetto Living by Orian, Sun Shine Rug Inc. and Decorative Concepts on the showroom floor -- many offering attendees sneak peeks at products and merchandising scheduled for official January debuts at Domotex in Germany and Surfaces in Las Vegas.
As of 2020, soft surfaces (mainly carpet but also rugs) represents about 40 percent of the business of Flooring America and Carpet One members (part of the CCA Global cooperative), still the largest category in flooring, but losing share in recent years. Within rugs, online sales have taken a big chunk out of the inventory brick-and mortar retailers used to own.
Acknowledging that Wayfair is now the largest purchaser of rugs, Carpet One executives said they continue to look for ways to make rugs attractive to its members. At the same time, many of the mills are coming to market with higher-end soft surface products (among them Shaw, Mohawk and The Dixie Group), including rugs -- and carpet that can be fabricated into rugs.
The all-natural properties of PureLife by Kaleen were a hit at the conneXtion 2020 convention for CCA Global members.
The big news at Kaleen Rugs' booth was the PureLife line. As one of the only all-natural carpets available for consumers today, PureLife products are made from all-natural wool, which is a 100 percent renewable and biodegradable resource. In other words: an eco-friendly, non-toxic and hypoallergenic product. "The PureLife displays were very well received as evidenced by a number of satisfactory commitments," said Bob Stone, Southeast regional vice president for Kaleen. He credited the all-natural properties of PureLife -- fiber, latex, and backing -- coupled with the showroom-friendly 15-foot wide display.
Bob Stone of Kaleen stands next to rug samples at the Carpet One winter convention in Phoenix.
P.O.S. Rug Display Debuts
Also, at a time when many flooring dealers no longer want to commit to a great deal of showroom space for rugs, there are companies offering solutions, such as smaller displays or flexible racks that can be folded or manipulated depending on the size of the showroom.
Nourison's new Rug Boutique display offers 100 design styles in a compact format and scored big with buyers.
Nourison impressed with its Rug Boutique, offering 100 design styles of 5x8 rugs priced at $399. Don Karlin, director of broadloom sales at Nourison, said he was elated with the reaction to the rug boutique, with sales exceeding expectations during the conventions.
"Carpet retailers are infamous for not closing the deal on rugs when they sell hard surface," he said. "We have the answer here: Wouldn't one of these 5x8 rugs go perfectly with, say, a $7,000 ceramic tile floor? We're trying to make it easier for the retailer to sell."
Don Karlin of Nourison with flooring retailer Lucienne Fels of H.J. Martin & Sons Inc., Green Bay, Wisconsin.
SUN SHINE RUG
Canadian wholesaler Sun Shine Rug Inc., a diversified producer of machine-made area rugs for flooring dealers, furniture stores, designers as well as hotels and resorts, said it has a solution for space constraints within retail showrooms. It offered a racking system that holds up to 80 rugs and will be ready for the U.S. market in 2020. "It's easier for the rep to showcase," said Qais Sahol, manager at Sun Shine Rug, about the new display. "You can have higher end rugs on one side and lower end on the other as well."
Qais Sahel of Sun Shine Rug Inc. shows off the company's compact rug display.
Space allocation is at the heart of Karastan's 42-inch wide Karastan Wall Unit with built-in digital kiosk that was shown at the winter conventions.
A flooring retailer plays with the digital kiosk affixed to the Karastan rug display.
The display itself has 150 18x18 swatches on it so customers can see, touch, and feel the material. Outer edges going up and down represent the custom program where users can pick special edging with leather, cotton, indoor/outdoor Sunbrella fabric, 1-¼ polyester binding and wool serge. Color choices are shown in binder books below the screen.
Customers can pick rugs they like by entering the rug style number on the back of the rug and see it in multiple room scenes or search by design type or region (e.g. modern, contemporary, Southwestern). Live inventory feeds are updated via Wi-Fi daily.
The Karastan display can be folded or adjusted to fit a retailer's designated area. "The digital screen creates an inspirational buying experience for each consumer and allows them to curate their search based on style and design preference," said Derek Townsend, national director of business development for Karastan Rugs. "The kiosk is what is selling the display. We have gotten a lot of orders already -- this is dynamite." Retailers who visited the booth and saw a demonstration agreed. "It's impressive -- it's an easy way to get in the rug business without worrying about picking the wrong inventory," said Joel Schreier, co-owner of Home Carpet One, Chicago.
Jackie Glacer, store manager at Irvine Carpet One Floor & Home in Barrie, Ontario, added, "It's a very cool idea." Displays will be available in June 2020.
Derek Townsend of Karastan (right) shows color options to Chris Irvine and Jackie Glacer, both of Irvine Carpet One, Barrie, Ontario.
New supplier Decorative Concepts showed an array of broadloom and rugs in wool and woven vinyl visuals. "We are determined to be the best value in wool," said John Sheffield, a former Godfrey Hirst Carpets executive, who now serves as vice president of sales and marketing for the Chattanooga, Tennessee company.
John Sheffield of Decorative Concepts said they want to be the best value in wool carpet and rugs.