As part of Draperies & Window Coverings 20th anniversary celebration, each month we will return to early issues of the magazine to revisit interviews, advice and columns providing interesting, pertinent and fun historical perspectives on our industry.
It was 18 years ago this month that the "First Annual Window Coverings Exposition," sponsored by Draperies & Window Coverings magazine, debuted in New Orleans, LA. More than 1,700 registrants attended the show during its three-day run from April 17 to 19, 1983, and more than 1,500 registered to take advantage of the profit-making ideas and instructional help presented in the show's 15 seminars.
The consensus among exhibitors and trade was almost unanimous that the show was unusually successful, the magazine reported in its May 1983 issue, especially for a first-time exhibition. Exhibitors reported brisk sales, which was most encouraging and an indication that retailers were anticipating surging sales in 1983 and beyond.
A NEEDED GET-TOGETHER
The show was an excellent showcase for exhibitors' products and services. Many exhibitors took large booth spaces and went all-out to make their exhibits into attractive display and sales areas. Small-space exhibits were well-planned to tie into the decorative and fashion aspects of the industry.
Jim Ford, vice president, marketing, Kirsch, reported that Expo '83 was "excellent . . . and one of the very best shows in which we participated for actually writing orders."
Peter Holden, president, Architectural Concepts, commented, "I've never been to a first-time show before in which I walked out wishing my company had been an exhibitor."
Jerry Wall, president, Stead Textile Co., wrote, "The first World of Window Coverings Expo '83 was a most professional presentation. I'm very glad that we participated and I'm sure the results we will eventually achieve because of our showing will far exceed the costs and time involved."
Educational sessions have been a part of industry shows since the beginning in 1983. D&WC's Expo '83 included 15 sessions covering fabrics and fashion, shop-at-home selling, advertising, selling the contract market, how to get more appointments, new trends in colors and computerizing your drapery business.
In the computerization seminar, Jim Hancock, director, International Drapery Association, and Wayne Naugle, Naugle Interiors, discussed in detail the custom computer systems designed by drapery retailers.
It takes time to fill out a customer information sheet, write a purchase order and prepare an invoice. The opportunity for a smooth, profitable sale can quickly turn into a headache through clerical errors or unnecessary omissions.
Computer software and hardware is available to alleviate the boredom and improve the accuracy of custom drapery and window coverings ordering.
The frequency of sales problems as well as the general and administrative problems associated with processing orders were discussed at the seminar. Among these are the failure to provide detailed information on the order form and giving customers excessive discounts.
Misplaced paperwork, disorganized inventory control, failure to update costs, disorganized paper flow and late bookkeeping are familiar administrative problems.
A computerized order processing system can be instrumental in alleviating these types of problems. Besides the obvious benefits of accuracy and efficiency, a computer system can free the owner of a drapery and window coverings business to attend to the more important aspects of sales management and consumer assistance.
Naugle emphasized and reiterated his belief, in support of Hancock, that the age of the computer has truly arrived in our industry. The speakers dealt effectively with this reality and pointed out in detail the expected return on investment a retailer might expect through computerization.