High Point was a new experience for me this year. I “walked the market” yesterday with a well respected designer, Shari Hayes of Shari Hayes Designs. She was looking for some casual area rugs, possibly hemp or jute. We therefore spent time at the Classic Home showrooms. Tom Hoffman, sales manager, and his staff could not have been more accommodating and helpful. They showed us some lovely knobby loop, natural hand-spun jute rugs, some thin hand-stenciled rugs printed with great designs like Hibiscus, and robe-braided jute. These were shown in heather-like colors, wide and narrow colorful stripes and herring-bone designs. They answered our many questions. They showed us a wide variety in textural weaves in many thicknesses and many colors with many that were soft underfoot. The “feel of a natural fiber rug” and the price are both quite important.
Of interest to Shari–the designer– were: What are the minimums required to place an order for a designer? Some companies require just one rug; others, like Classic, have a minimum on the first order; and some companies–unfortunately– do not want to work with designers at all, but want the designer to find and work with their dealer in their home area. Timing too is important to the designer, depending on when a project needs to be completed. So, how quickly will the item ship? And what is the cost of shipping? Classic could get the rugs Shari wanted in very short order. Can the designer get a small sample of the rug or a color blanket? And if so, what are the charges for those? Must she pay shipping in both directions or just one direction?
Some things were quite noticeable to me. When a designer walks into a showroom, he or she is looking for specific items for their project. To the sales person this may seem very minor–only one or two rugs!! The sales person would undoubtedly much prefer to be with a large retailer that is buying a large quantity of rugs–say a Crate & Barrel buyer or a Nebraska Furniture Mart. After all, the salesman has to survive too in this economy!
However, a business relationship is being established with this designer, which can hopefully blossom with repeat business in the future. Don’t take that too lightly. The steady stream of orders throughout the year–by just one designer–can add up to a considerable amount of money. If all goes smoothly, the designer will most likely turn to you, and your company, for future orders. It makes a big difference to the designer, how they are treated by your company at market. It makes a big difference, if they are greeted as they enter, and if the salesperson seems to make an effort to be helpful. Shari and I were indeed well treated at Classic Home! If something goes badly, like the order gets delivered to the wrong place or ultimately not delivered at all, well, the friendship and the “steady stream of business” may unfortunately have been broken. This is important to keep in mind.