The open, bi-leveled Concourse Exhibition Center welcomed attendees with the Mother Lode of window coverings running the gamut from drapery fabric to pleated, cellular and roller shades, horizontal and vertical blinds and wood and resin shutters. In addition, colorful exhibits of trimmings, wall coverings and home decorating accessories including bed and bath linen enticed buyers of every sort.
Exhibitors were able to make serious contacts with potential customers and distributors. Many commented on the numerous opportunities they had to meet with key buyers and suppliers. Many new products were offered this year including a look at upcoming designer wall coverings, a new roller shade program and exterior products such as awnings and rolling shutters.
Throughout the four-day event, a curriculum of more than 50 seminars was held as part of the Interior Fashions University program sponsored and organized by Draperies & Window Coverings magazine. The seminars were led by a faculty of design, workroom, installation and marketing experts and covered subjects ranging from tips on creating top treatments and slipcovers, help with customer service and increasing sales, and ideas for room decorating and advertising.
On Friday evening, some 300 exhibitors and attendees shuttled to the city's famed waterfront to board the San Francisco Spirit. The sold-out two-hour cruise took the ship from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge providing those on deck with a spectacular view of the San Francisco skyline.
It also provided the setting for the show's keynote speaker Mark Flegel, owner of the Bay area Flegel stores. The stores have seen strong growth through innovative merchandising programs. Flegel said, too often it seems as if manufacturers have lowered their quality standards to settle for the status quo. He added that retail success is a mix of several factors including having the right attitude, finding a niche and providing the right product mix to fill it, product presentation and outstanding service.
Flegel stores have found their niche among the high-end shoppers. The stores focus on the top five percent, Flegel said. These customers want the best and are willing and able to pay for it, and the stores' product mix is aimed directly at this narrow customer base. "Know your market and go after it," Flegel said.
Employees play a key role in a store's success, Flegel added. It is important they have the right, up-beat attitude. "Be positive," he said, "business is good." In return, it also is important for owners to show their appreciation for their work. Honesty, integrity and trust are the most important traits for employees and for suppliers, he said.
Finally, providing outstanding service is one of the best ways to ensure success. "Customer satisfaction. That's the bottom line," Flegel said.
Upcoming events to plan for include the Boston Curtain & Drapery Show February 27 to March 1, 1997, in Boston, MA, and the World of Home Fashion Show comprising the World of Window Coverings[TM] show and the Hometextil Americas fair March 20 to 22, 1997, in Orlando, FL.