How to get started
Begin by defining what soft goods mean to you. Then, determine a product mix that fits your customers’ lifestyles and sense of style. Look for opportunities to gain incremental revenue by adding soft goods to what you’re already selling. If your customers are asking for any soft goods that you don’t already offer, be sure to add those to your list.
Niches you may be missing
Porches and patios have become outdoor rooms where furnishings go far beyond the bare essentials. Showrooms such as Glen Raven Mills and Elaine Smith are great places to see pillows, draperies, throws and rugs made of fabrics that withstand the weather.
Plus, artists working in textiles are creating a variety of unique and inspiring decorative items. Beyond traditional tapestries, you’ll find woven wall hangings, framed textiles, and upholstered mirrors in an ever-expanding array of offerings. To start building your soft art gallery, take a look at Tapesteries, Ltd., and stop by the Antique and Design Center to see the possibilities in framed vintage fabric fragments.
Consumer experts tell us that grandparents are taking a more active role in their grandkids’ lives – and are poised to spend big bucks on children’s rooms, from the nursery to the teen’s tech haven. Add juvenile top-of-bed to your niche opportunities.
Tap into the Millennial generation’s need for instant gratification by sourcing ready-to-go window fashions that are a step beyond standard fare but not quite true custom. Choose three to five basic panels in linen, blends and silk or velvet. Add a dash of fun with one or two patterns, and make a statement with a large-scale floral. Enhance your collection with unique headings; choose three to start. Sprinkle in four to six designer options. Finish things off with hardware and trimmings. Now, give your collection a name and you have limited edition, curated offering that can’t be shopped. If this idea appeals to you, stop by the Décor Fifty Five, Creative Threads, and Eastern Accents showrooms for inspiration.
Where to find soft goods showrooms
Once you have an idea of what you’re looking for, you can begin your search for suppliers online at highpointmarket.org. Go to the Find Exhibitors page and look under Find by Category for Textiles/Soft Goods to see a complete listing of all subcategories. Click the ones that interest you to see a listing of showrooms in that subcategory, and click the company name for detailed information about each exhibitor.
If you’d like to explore exhibitors while you’re at Market, I’d recommend spending some time at IHFC floors 2,3,4 and of course, InterHall, followed by a trip to Market Square and Suites at Market Square. My list of not-to-be-missed showrooms includes Wildcat Territory, Design Legacy, Surya, Emdee International, Legacy Home, and Global Views. To add a little extra dazzle to your soft goods tour, stop in to see the hidden gems at B. Viz, Liora Manne, Lilli Allessandra, Kevin O’Brien Studio, Signature Fabrics, and TMS Menagerie.
Of course, you’ll develop your own list of favorites as you explore Market’s more than 250 soft goods companies to find just the right mix for your store. Plus, I expect you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see more and more manufacturers expanding their offerings to include top of bed, decorative pillows, throws, poufs, tabletop, and more. Like so many successful retailers and designers, they are starting to recognize that the all-to-often overlooked soft goods category can deliver a competitive advantage, higher sales, better margins, and cold, hard cash to the bottom line.