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What's new in various product categories; monthly update.

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By all accounts, the Columbus show was a success.

Written/compiled by Mike Hartnett (July, 2003)

Judging from the attendance figures and the first-hand accounts of exhibitors and buyers, the TNNA show in Columbus was a resounding success. The number of exhibitors was up 3% to 216 compared to the 2002 show, and the booth count increased 6% to 516. There were 46% more buyers, representing 50% more buying companies. Class offerings were up 28%.

TNNA's 2003 Tribute to Excellence in Needlework (TEN) Award was given to Solutia's Rick Caron. The TEN Award is granted annually to an individual who upholds the highest standards in needlework creativity, education, product development, and industry promotion.

Rick was a founder of the Yarn Group, served on the board of the Helping Hands Foundation/Needlearts Mentoring Program, chaired the Craft Yarn Council of America, and is the current President of the Warm Up America! Foundation. (Comment: The TEN award couldn't have gone to a nicer, more deserving person.)

Certainly the most unique introduction at the show was Following The Thread, to our knowledge the industry's first Internet radio channel devoted exclusively to needlework and quilting. Produced and sponsored by Tink Boord-Dill, it features interviews with some of the industry's leaders, interviews surfers can listen to after downloading the appropriate free software.

Following The Thread contains special sections for quilting, needlework, shopowners, and more. Sponsorship opportunities are available, too. For more info, visit http:fttradio.com. (For Tink's thoughts on the show, see below.)

In their own words.

What follows are comments from attendees:

1. I was a first time exhibitor at TNNA, so I really have nothing to compare to regarding that show. However, I have exhibited at Charlotte and Nashville for six years.

My sales were great and it was the best show I have ever had, so I can not complain.

I was surprised that there were not more shopowners there. I heard the comment from some exhibitors and attendees alike: "Where is everybody?" I have to say that at times it seemed there were more exhibitors walking around than attendees. Yes, you do expect the last day to be slow; however, it seems like Sunday was slow as well.

Yes, there was an excitement from most of the shopowners I spoke to about the joint show (TNNA & INRG) next year. I know that many of the exhibitors are excited about it.

Yes, I will definitely go back next year. The staff of TNNA was most cordial and welcoming, and many of the shopowners were very excited and encouraging about seeing new and different faces with new and different products.

All in all a great weekend. -- Nan Baker, Purrfect Spots, www.purrfectspots.com

2. From my point of view the show was great this year. Everyone was in good sprits about the upcoming fall season. Our sales were better this year then last, and I had a good show last year. So yes, sir, I will be showing again next year in Columbus -- and Long Beach, too. -- Von Allbright, "How 2" Books

3. I was a first-time exhibitor at TNNA, so I can't do comparisons from prior experience. I will say, though, that I was well pleased with the response to my knitting patterns, the attentiveness and professional support I received from the TNNA organizers, and the general friendly atmosphere of all. I do plan to return next year. -- Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer, www.HeartStringsFiberArts.com

4. I exhibited in Columbus, my seventh show with TNNA. My company name is Elegant Heirlooms, offering Christmas stocking kits for knitters. We also have a new line called Googleheims. All may be viewed at www.elegantheirlooms.com.

Still trying to catch my breath and come back to earth after this show. We had an increase of 120% over Columbus, 2002. The attendance was definitely up, optimism was high (not so, from my point of view in San Diego last January). We sold kits that shop owners had previously shied away from, or, it seems, never even noticed!

I overheard conversations about the classes offered, and they seemed excited about what they had learned, so much so that they wanted to go back to their room to work on various projects, instead of going to the fashion show Friday night.

It was obvious, however, that they did attend the fashion show; it was standing room only. The fashion show was a tad too long, in my opinion.

So, from this exhibitor's view, it was the most profitable show we have ever experienced, and we will be back in Columbus next year. We like the show in Columbus because it is a friendly, courteous city, less expensive than Chicago or California, and we can drive there from North Carolina. -- Charmie Haynes, Elegant Heirlooms, www.elegantheirlooms.com

5. In response about TNNA show: Although the main interest at the show was in yarn, I had a successful needlepoint show.

I find many needlepoint shops are putting some of their open-to-buy into yarn for small projects, namely fashion scarves, to supplement their needlepoint sales.

One smart move I made years ago was to keep 70% of my line under $25 wholesale. It seems high-quality, hand-paint "non holiday" oriented needlepoint designs at these price points are consistent good sellers. I also do "series," which means the consumer can add to the purchase. Often with the lower price, you find "cutesy" designs. I have some cutesy, but most are sophisticated designs. Maybe this is what got me through. I have price points from $8 wholesale to $500 wholesale.

Dollar wise, I had a better show than I did last year.

I feel at some point in the near future knitting will level out, crochet will continue to rise, and needlepoint will be positioned to move to top slot. I am using this "level" time right now to create new designs and to get my company ready for needlepoint to take off again and gain back some of the $$$ knitting "borrowed" from us.

There was a great article in the NY Times recently. [Note: read a report of the article in the current -- 7/7/03 -- issue of CLN.] We need to get aggressive and start telling the world needlepoint is happening too.

There is a lot of excitement in TNNA about the INRG companies coming over to join us in 2004-5 at TNNA. The buyers are very happy and wondered if three days will be long enough to do the show. I trust they will figure it out! If they carry needlepoint, knitting and cross stitch, it may be a very exhausting show for them. -- Sharon Garmize, Sharon G

6. I thought TNNA went very well. I felt a real air of excitement and actually saw bunches of people milling about waiting enter the exhibit hall. I do realize that I am a half-cup-full kind of girl, but I still felt that there was a different, more positive feeling in the air.

Folks seemed happy about having the combined shows next summer. I did hear a couple of shop owners asking, "How do you get through it all when it is bigger?" but they seemed more willing to be convinced that it would be a good thing than I have heard other times.

Peg Edwards [Carolina Country House] and I are now showing together under the name, "Peg and Tink Ink", but Carolina Country House and Tink Boord-Dill Needlework are still separate companies and do their own order fulfillment. It just means that between the two of us, we'll be able to cover the shows in spite of other commitments. We also have some joint ventures in the works including a book with Krause.

The shop owners seemed to be excited and understanding about this solution to our scheduling problems. Next year, with the Charlotte "Cash and Carry" show planned for the same weekend as TNNA's Phoenix show, we'll be able to cover both shows. I realize there are few companies that will be directly affected by the conflict, and I'm sorry that the scheduling ended up that way.

I guess my overall impression was that there is still concern about the state of the industry, but there seems to be a willingness to try new approaches that I haven't been aware of before. I came out of it quite excited and upbeat. I'll be at Charlotte and it will be VERY interesting to see what the tenor of that show is like. -- Tink Boord-Dill, Tink Boord-Dill Needlework, http://tinkbd.com

7. Regarding Columbus, I am glad that I went. Being a counted thread designer, I knew up front that most shoppers were not looking for my category. However, I made the decision last fall that Columbus would be my summer venture rather than Charlotte. After hearing that next year TNNA and INRG would co-sponsor a summer show, I felt even better about making the decision to exhibit at Columbus.

I accomplished my primary objective, and that was to be seen and considered to be a serious player in this business. As someone stated recently, this industry cycles, and eventually counted thread embroidery will make its way back into the mainstream again.

In the meantime, I will continue to do what I love and also broaden my interests. After looking over the painted canvas offerings (which are absolutely fabulous as well as mind boggling!), I observed that for the most part there is a niche there to be filled with designs I have the inspiration to create. My creative juices are flowing as I think about new designs for a format I'm anxious to learn!

For the short term, Columbus was not a financial success for me. However, I have no doubt that for the long term it was a very wise investment in the future of A Stitch and a Prayer. The majority of my orders were substantial. My designs will now be in shops where they weren't previously with very enthusiastic shopowners selling them. Again, for the future this is a positive!

Besides the selling aspect of a trade show, the contacts that you make are/can be tremendous. I was visited by the editors of two magazines. One has already purchased a design from me that will appear in the January, 2004 issue and she asked for more designs. The other editor, who has rejected several submissions (but with very helpful feedback regarding why), made some specific requests for designs. I'm eager to get started working on submissions for both magazines. If I had not been at this show I would not have had these positive interchanges and the publication opportunities that they presented. Regarding magazine designs, I look at them as advertising that the publisher pays me for (rather than me paying for an ad).

I also made it a point to visit with manufacturers who supply me with their wonderful products for models. I had met them all before, but somehow it felt more "real" being able to present myself as an exhibitor. Again, being taken seriously was my primary objective. Before too much longer I want these folks to know me well enough to recognize me without my having to introduce myself. -- Vicki Schofield, A Stitch and a Prayer, http://www.astitchandaprayer.com



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