HIGH POINT RUG AUCTION
STORY GIVES WHIPLASH
By Lissa Wyman
I'm getting whiplash from the repercussions of that story I wrote on the High Point auction of "Oriental Carpets and Unique Rarities." (To see the original article, click here)
As many Rugnews.com readers know, I also write a monthly rug column for Furniture/Today, the home furnishings industry trade paper. After the High Point market, I wrote a column for that publication which was similar to the article I wrote for Rugnews.com.
I admit much of the ensuing problems stem from the fact that I did not attend that auction. Sorry, I wasn't feeling too hot and I didn't want to be stuck in High Point late in the evening and have to take the late-late bus back to my hotel in Winston-Salem. I should have taken a couple of aspirin and gone to the dang thing.
I've been getting grief from Furniture Today since day one on this. First, my editor told me to tone it down because the editor of sister publication Home Accents Today had attended the event and had seen "some very pretty rugs there." I immediately questioned that person's expertise in the rug business. I also provided the Furniture Today editor with a picture of the auction advertising campaign on the streets of High Point. To refresh your memory, here it is again:
My editor admitted that the picture did speak a thousand words, but then the editor in chief got involved to tone things down even more because...well the article just wasn't very nice, was it?
I was slightly disgruntled with the watered down version of the column, but I got over it pretty quick. Then on Thursday, Dec. 9, I got an e-mail from Connie Lineberry, one of the grand kleegles (vp of marketing) at Sandow Media,. parent company of Furniture Today.
She didn't like my column very much. She said that if I had gone, I would have found that
"They had some absolutely beautiful rugs, many hand made from Iran that were not cheap and bought by designers."
She also wanted me know that
"A portion of the proceeds go to Feed The Children and other charities and this is actually a fun, well-run event."
She attached a short e-mail from the president of the company that put on the auction. He said he felt hurt.
I really hate to hurt anyone's feelings. BUT that doesn't mean I think think that a rug auction belongs at the High Point Market.
Anyway, here is how I responded to Lineberry:
"Auctions have been one of the VERY sore spots in the rug business for many many years. Largely, it's because consumers really do not know much about rugs and if they see something that looks handmade, they think it's a beautiful and priceless Persian rug.
Usually people who know very little about rugs think they are getting a great deal at these auctions. The reality is, they would do much better shopping at a bona fide retail store which services what it sells.
By extension, a retailer who comes to High Point to buy rugs would ALSO be much better off buying rugs from a bona fide rug vendor's showroom where he will learn about the exact provenance of a rug -- whether he buys one of a kind or a container load. That retailer will also establish an ongoing business relationship with a bona fide rug vendor who will continue to service his store and work in partnership with the store.
Same thing applies to designers. If I were a designer making an investment in a rug for a client, I would CERTAINLY want to have the backing of a bona fide source who will stand behind his product. That source would also be able to tell me exactly where the rug was made, when it was made, how it was made and what it was made of.
As you can tell, I am quite passionate about this subject. Too many consumers are deeply suspicious of the rug business. Auctions are a very good reason they are suspicious. Another thing is GOB sales where shady rug "importers" come in to sell rugs in GOB stores that never carried the category in the first place. But don't get me started on that one.
These people may be very nice clients, but their MO is highly questionable. Believe me, I will make SURE that I go there in April. Sorry I couldn't muster the energy this time. I was battling walking pneumonia and didn't have the strength. I'll rest up for it in April. Of course, I am known to be quite vocal at these events, so perhaps they may want to call the cops BEFORE I show up. It will save them time.
Connie Lineberry is a toughie, that's one of the reasons I like her. But in this situation, I don't care how much I offend her or her clients.
Okayokayokay I didn't go to the damn auction in High Point. For all I know they could have had three curators from Christies vetting every single rug that went on the block.
NEVERTHELESS -- IT'S STILL NOT THE RIGHT WAY TO SELL RUGS IN HIGH POINT.
Unless someone squawks about this kind of thing, it will surely continue.
And what do YOU think?
Use the comment box below to share your thoughts with rugnews.com readers.
Feel free to comment on the state of the industry, share tips on improving business or just to let off steam.
Please do not use this privilege to make libelous remarks or to sell your products.
If you want to sell your products, our advertising rates are posted on the site under the Advertise tab.
Please use your name and email address.