Tips & Insights

Insider Insights: Soft Goods How-to

Pro tips for finding the right fabrics for your business

By Deb Barrett, founder, Soft Design Lab

At High Point Market, you’ll find dozens of soft goods vendors to explore, in a range of categories from rugs to tassels and trim, wall art to window coverings, pillows to throws. But how can you find the ones that will work best for your business? Here are a few tips to help you get started down the road to soft goods success.

“You don’t have to make any big changes to have a big impact.”

First, a little pre-planning is crucial. Start by thinking about your ideal soft product mix. What items work well with what you already sell? What are your easy up-sell opportunities? What are your customers asking you for or about? You don’t have to make any big changes to make a big impact, either. There can be plenty of incremental revenue in simple things like pillows and throws casually displayed on sofas, some top of bed items added to your bedroom department, or incorporating rugs and wall coverings into your living room vignettes.

Start your search online, if you like

Once you have an idea of what might work for your business, you can use MyMarket to find, save, and organize your at-Market schedule.

  • Sign in to MyMarket on highpointmarket.org.
  • Go to the Find by Product Category page under Find Exhibitors.
  • Browse through the sub-categories.
  • When you find a vendor you’d like to see, just click “Add to Plan.”

Click MyMarket to organize your saved suppliers by building or shuttle stop, so you can make the most of your at-Market time. If you’re in more of a mood to just explore, keep reading for my favorite way to see High Point’s soft goods show.

“Visit ... Surya and Four Hands to see what’s on the soft goods horizon ...”

Interhall Introduction

Just steps away from the Transportation Terminal, on the first floor of the IHFC building, InterHall is where I like to start. This juried collection of vendors is the perfect place to discover what’s new and what’s next in pillows, top of bed, windows and more. From Aviva Stanoff to Zodax, here’s where you’ll find the soft goods trend setters who will get your creative juices flowing.

Also in IHFC

From InterHall, take the escalator to the Accessory Floors (2, 3 and 4). This venue has a strong showing of soft goods in a broad range of price points to help you perfect your soft product mix. Be sure you don’t miss Pavilions on Main. The entire 3rd floor is home to a vibrant showcase of unique exhibitors including textiles, art pillows and more.

Showplace

Head out of IHFC and cross the Transportation Terminal to Showplace. Here, you’ll find several major lifestyle companies, plus an interesting mix of smaller manufacturers like India’s Heritage and Rizzy Home, with a diverse mix of designer and celebrity licensed brands, as well as one-of-a-kind artisan looks. Visit anchor vendors Surya and Four Hands to see what’s on the soft goods horizon and get great merchandising ideas for your shop or studio.

“Some of my best finds have been in places I passed by the first time.”

Suites at Market Square

After Showplace, head back to the Transportation Terminal and jump on the red line down Commerce to the next stop on our tour, Suites at Market Square. This is the sweet spot for soft goods – every category is covered. Start with Salon and its fashion forward offerings like Cotton + Quill, Kevin O’Brien, and newcomer Elizabeth Bradley Home.

Do not miss the brand new Soft Goods Pavilion on the top floor for window treatments, table linens, pillows, top-of-bed, area rugs and towels. With such diversity in styles and prices, this is the perfect place to curate your signature soft collection. Be sure to check with vendors on minimums (you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised). Get the scoop on sizes and fabric, insert and edging options. Then, to create your look, use the take two technique: choose two to three styles in two sizes, and then add two solids and two coordinates, preferably from different vendors. For a great source for window fashion fabrics and fabrication, check out new exhibitor, Ado.

“You might run across something that’s intriguing but not on your plan. Don’t dismiss it.”

Hidden Gems Along the Way

While you are out on the Red Line shuttle, be sure to stop in on these soft goods secret sources:

Antique and Design Center (Stop #28), offers a selection of original, handcrafted, antique and unique items that changes every day. This is one of my favorites. Whether it’s vintage textiles at B. Viz or luxury designer pillows from Robin Leonard, you will not be disappointed.

Casa Fiora, 200 Hamilton Court (Stop # 17), is a premier source for designer draperies and top-of bed looks.

Radio Building (Stop #14), at the corner of Main and Commerce, showcases Hilando Mexico, vendor of brilliantly executed embroidered soft accessories with a great backstory. As an added bonus, you’ll feel really good about empowering these women with your purchases.

Thief River Linen at 201 N. Main (the corner of English and Main near Stop #25) is a complete source for fabric, bedding, and decorative window products. Plus, they offer customization – what designer isn’t all about that!

“Keep your eyes open for where soft goods are headed next.”

Between stops #25 and #26, at 126 Virginia Place, is Design Legacy, my go-to company for the unusual in home furnishings. You’ll find amazing wall hangings and hand screen fabrics that have sophisticated takes on novelty themes.

Finally, here are a few more tips to keep in mind as you make your soft goods tour:

If you see some fabrics you like in a showroom that doesn’t look like a textile vendor, don’t be afraid to venture in. Some of my best finds have been in places I passed by the first time.

Cultivate relationships. You might run across something that’s intriguing but not on your plan. Don’t dismiss it. Get the company’s info or catalog, find out who your rep is, and open an account. That way, when the opportunity presents itself, you can take advantage.

Keep your eyes open for where soft goods are headed next. Track the trends in lampshades, tabletop, and wall art. By their nature, fabrics can go a little further out than most bigger-ticket items. So, by looking at everything thru the soft goods prism, you can see ahead of the curve – and beyond your competition.

And remember, whether you choose to start your search online or add these venues to your at-Market explorations, your quest for soft goods success starts at home. Once you have an idea of which products will work best for your store, customers, and clients, you’ll have no trouble finding them in High Point.