What's new in various product categories; monthly
How the TNNA Shows Have Changed
They reflect positive changes in the industry.
by Janet Perry (February 19, 2007)
(Note: Janet operates Napa Needlepoint in Napa, CA, and
has written numerous articles for CLN.)
Circumstances (maintenance of my blog) have conspired to have me
read five years of TNNA reports in the last four days. Now that my
be a good thing because it's given me a chance to reflect on changes
in the needlework market. In no particular order, here are my
The last couple of years I've noticed that this aisles at TNNA
haven't seemed so crowded. Last year, 2006, the aisles weren't
crowded, bu the booths were. This year both seemed empty.
One retailer I know complained after last year's show that it was
awful. Because to her mind a crowded show meant a successful show.
This in spite of the fact that exhibitors were happy with the sales.
The number of people walking around is absolutely no indication
of the success of a show. There can be tons of people milling around
but if no one is buying, it isn't a good show.
What I heard from vendors all around is that the show was
successful for them. And for myself, I liked the wider aisles and
the less frantic atmosphere.
Knitting vs. needlework.
In the past I heard needlework vendors complain that the show was
"all knitting." No doubt knitting vendors used to complain
it was "all needlepoint." Since both crafts are cyclical,
this makes sense. But this year things seemed more in balance.
One thing which changed is that the show was semi-segregated. The
yarn/knitting companies were mostly in one part of the hall, the
thread/needlepoint companies in another. Vendors and retailers have
been asking TNNA to do this for years. And although it wasn't
formal, I think it made for a better show for everyone. Retailers
weren't tired from passing booths of no interest to them. Vendors
profited from the synergy of similar vendors close by.
It's not your Grandmother's Needlepoint!
Needlepoint suffers in the common view of being stuffy and
traditional. And certainly when I started going to TNNA in 1998,
there were lots of companies selling pre-worked and traditional
designs. This year I saw one pre-worked company and the number of
companies selling traditional florals was down.
Needlepoint companies are making fresh, new designs which appeal
to younger stitchers. This has the potential to change public
perceptions about needlepoint, much as the perceptions of knitting
have changed. Retailers and vendors alike should capitalize on this
as much as possible.
Needlepoint for the time-pressed vs. needlepoint as heirloom.
A characteristic of needlepoint is that it is durable. For a long
time, the thought was that if it is going to last, let's make it
big, fancy, and worth being an heirloom.
But that doesn't necessarily work in the time-pressed world of
sports practices, stitching on airplanes, and stitching during the
Super Bowl. A few years ago vendors started listening to their
customers and began to bring out more and more small projects. While
inventive small projects still abound, I am also starting to see a
return to big, impressive, heirloom projects. And these canvases are
ravishing – a real testament to a stitcher's skill.
That's good because we need to stay connected and we want to make
things which are going to last. That rug or lovely pillow you work
on at home will go to your grandchildren and be treasured.
There's room for both and we should applaud both.
The Internet and opportunity.
It's hard to be a needlepoint retailer. There's lots of money
tied up in inventory, especially canvases. People have less money to
spend at your shop. And then there's the Internet.
A few years ago it was rare to find a designer on the web, and
shops jealously guarded the designer catalog they had.
But not today. Shops can't stock everything and they know it. But
with a designer's website or catalog, they multiply their inventory.
Now they don't have to carry that pricey rug canvas; they can show
the customer on-line or in a catalog and order it in. Smart shops
get a deposit to cover their costs.
Everyone benefits with this arrangement. The consumer gets a
wider variety, the shop can concentrate on products which will sell
quickly instead of typing up inventory with a canvas which may not
sell for awhile, and the vendor gets increased sales for the cost of
a catalog or updating their website.
I'm very excited about what I'm seeing in needlepoint, a great
mix of people and products which will appeal to many different kinds
(Note: Contact Janet by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org;
visit her site at www.napaneedlepoint.com
and her blog at www.nuts-about-needlepoint.com.
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