HIGH POINT – With just two months until the next Showtime event, fabric resources both new and old to Premarket experienced a record-breaking experience there.

To begin with, this year’s Premarket saw significantly more fabric resources opening their showrooms than normal. Sean Gibbons, CEO of Specialty Textiles Inc., said that his company usually opens its Home Furnishings Resource Center showroom for some part of Premarket, but it is usually one of few fabric resources doing so.

“This was a big Premarket for us, but it was really just huge for everyone. We heard the comment from manufacturers that this is the first time people have actually written orders during Premarket.”

According to the International Textile Alliance’s count, about 27 fabric resources, all with permanent showrooms, were open among the well more than 300 vendors showing during Premarket.

“Our members are experiencing increased demand for their products, and Premarket is a great opportunity for them to meet with their customers and receive exposure to buyers that don’t traditionally attend Showtime market,” said Carrie Dillon, ITA managing director.

For STI, the turnout was a pleasant surprise, with Anderson Gibbons, vice president of marketing for the fabric resource, noting that the company saw a lot of its key manufacturing partners during the show, many of which the company didn’t anticipate seeing at all and all focused on tackling and growing the current sales boom.

“They wanted to see us; they wanted to work on new product,” said Anderson Gibbons. “Most of our partners were working with their customers and really looking at February and March, and that was kind-of the timeline they were working with for even for domestic.”

Overall, attendance was unprecedented. Manufacturing partners that traditionally saw 15 retailers over the course of the market reported seeing 60 or more in their showrooms, according to Gibbons, and while there were no “crowds” at Premarket, it was a busy, focused show.

Crest Leather opted to open up its new permanent showroom, which opened November 2019 during ITA Showtime’s last official event, in the same building this year for its first Premarket.

“By being opened, we were simply telling the industry that we are here, and we are ready,” explained Lucio Esposito, U.S. managing director for the company. “And because we see our participation in the furniture industry beyond Showtime.”

It seemed to have worked well for the leather resource, which reported that it was able to have meaningful meetings with its customers, in large part because of the slower pace of the Premarket. It also was able to focus on customers it does not see at other markets, a sentiment echoed by fabric manufacturers across the event.

For Crypton Home Fabric, a performance fabric brand, Premarket was a chance to go after a new market for its fabric demos and educational experiences, moving direct to retailers.

According to Jack Eger, vice president of sales at Crypton, the company’s goal for the past nine years or so was to promote its brand to manufacturers primarily, but now it is transitioning to working on expanding brand awareness and strategic partnerships with retailers, and that’s the audience at Premarket.

The team couldn’t ignore the opportunity to kick-off its retail push and spread information about its updated messaging. That message has been refreshed to address the new, more home-centered lifestyle consumers are living and the consumer emphasis on cleanliness, something Elise Gabrielson, marketing director for the company, said Crypton is uniquely positioned to speak to with its cleanability story and history with things like EPA-approved cleaners.

“People are living with their furniture in a way they haven’t had to before,” said Gabrielson. “I think that retailers are seeing more people thinking about the way their furniture is made and asking about a performance fabric brand, so we wanted to be there to talk about all the new point of sale information and messaging that speaks to what we have. It’s a timely, relevant topic that retailers can use to capture shoppers.”

That timeliness, Eger said, it what kept Crypton busy during Premarket, despite not having products to show to a stock-hungry retail market, and part of what pushed it to be open there in the first place.

“It was all about our message of course, but it was also about how many manufacturers showed, how they brought out a bigger number of more varied retailers,” noted Eger. “I’d be lying to you to tell you that we had planned this to start during Premarket and that if it had been like years past we would have come out.”

As a result, the folks at Crypton had more than 20 meetings with retailers at the company’s pop-up booth at Universal Furniture, a longtime manufacturing partner of the brand, and it counts those meetings as a huge success.

“This is a new landscape for everyone,” said Eger. “We’re just glad to have had the chance to try something new with the rest of our industry.”