We have just returned from five days in the great nation of Texas, and as much as I enjoy spending time there it is always nice to get back to the jungles of Florida. We covered all the Dallas Market buildings top to bottom, talked to a lot of people, and learned a few things:
– Crowded parking lots and long lines at the ladies rooms do not automatically translate into good orders for the exhibitors.
– Duck Dynasty, the hot license last year, is dead and buried in the gift industry. Fine by me.
– “Me too” design and product lines are everywhere, both at the designer and the manufacturer levels.
– The highly touted and exciting gift industry “recovery” of the last year didn’t happen.
– The Dallas-Ft Worth Metroplex is continuing to grow at an obscene rate and will one day cover the entire planet.
While the Dallas show is not nearly the size of Atlanta, most of the big players have showrooms and the rest are represented somewhere in the buildings, so it’s a good place to get an early read on the market. What we did not expect was the language we kept hearing – evaluate, retrench, slow, reduce exposure, wait and see, soft market – all those words that strike fear into the hearts of designers and agents. Say what? Yes, there has been this elusive uneasiness hanging in the background, it’s a bit quiet but weren’t we all convinced that it had turned around? Of course, it wasn’t all bad news, we did get some business done, saw some of our new product and now have a better focus for the upcoming Atlanta market – but it will be very interesting to see what the consensus is going to be there.