NYICS and “The Rug Show” Review – Part 2

Welcome to the second of what I had planned to be two (2) posts on NYICS and “The Rug Show”. Due to a plethora of material generated by this year’s shows, there will in fact be a third installment featuring more rug and carpet reviews. But first!
I will begin by offering up my  apologies in advance as I have a feeling that this post is going to be verbose and long. Not that I am known for being succinct to begin with, but as this review has to now encompass two (2) shows it may just be that much longer, and for that you can place the blame squarely were it belongs. Ahh. I got you. For a second you thought I was going to say something like “on the shoulders of those who organized “The Rug Show” didn’t you? Well I’m not going to say that as it is not (entirely) true, but speaking of two (2) shows, I am going to say the following here now while you await even more reviews and since you’ve already had a little while to digest the initial reviews of the stunning (and otherwise) carpets shown at both shows.
“versus”
NYICS versus The Rug Show
Each show presents its own sets of strengths and weaknesses (some shared) and in the final analysis it is not for me to say which is better, that is an honour left to both rug and carpet buyers from around the country and to the exhibitors/importers who buy space. Those who have grown accustom to flocking to New York in September for what has become the premier rug buying destination/season/show in North America. A distinction brought about in no small part due to the tireless work of Dennis Dodds and those who organize Metro market Week. We should all give them thanks for getting us out of  the dreadful (for high end rugs) AmericasMart in Atlanta. But I digress.
First up NYICS. I unabashedly like this show. I liked it when it was at The Amoury and I like it even more at its current location of 7West. It has grown from an AmericasMart temporary exhibitoresque transplant that benefited from being in New York, to a full fledged force with which to be reckoned within the rug industry. This is the show – along with the exceptionally high concentration of rug importers in the area – that brings rug buyers to New York in September. I’ve said it a zillion times “Who does not want to come to New York in September?” Dennis Dodds has built a show with a solid reputation that draws in exhibitors and customers alike. I hope he continues this in 2013 at whatever venue he finds for the show. What’s that? A new venue? Yes dear readers. As much as 7West has served the show well, the building owners are converting it to office condominiums and as such, NYCIS will be moving to a new, TBD, home. Perhaps this is for the best due to space limitations, but moving on…
And now “The Rug Show”. Upon first hearing of this new rug show, I was skeptical. I thought “Oh look. Someone is trying to ride on NYICS’ coat tails of success” And maybe they are; frankly whom amongst us could blame them? If you are going to compete (more on this in a bit) with someone you might as well go where the customers are, and in September, customers are in New York. Edgar Hagopian once moved his store directly beside his competitor as he figured his customers where going to shop there anyway so he’d might as well make it easier on them. Plus, he might get some of his competitor’s customers in return. It’s win, win, and as an upstart show, I think the premise of The Rug Show is spot on as is said. But…
As the NYICS was fully sold out it is understandable, and frankly expected, that a second (not secondary) show would be organized to fill the space gap (subtle reference to “Dr. Strangelove”) created by the demand outstripping the supply. Easy enough right? Well not so much. It also seems that  the proverbial line in the sand was drawn placing what can most accurately be described as the “L.A. Crowd” (with a few friends) at The Rug Show and the rest of the rug industry (at least those wishing to exhibit at what is arguably now the premier North American rug buying event/destination: NYC in September) at NYICS, a distinction I find most disconcerting. Though I am sure it has to do with so and so not liking so and so, and this and that and a whole bunch of other nonsensical crap that in the truth of the final analysis is of little consequence, it is this very distinction that served as the almost unspoken undercurrent at both shows. You could almost hear it in peoples’ voices when they asked me: “Are you going to go over to the Javits Show?” as if they were really asking: “Whose side are you on?” like we were all somehow back in grade six (sixth grade as I would have said when I young) trying to take sides with the two (2) popular kids. Well to be fair (as I try to be, though still obvious in my favoritism) I did go to both shows, as when I was in grade six I just wanted anyone to like me.
A not so little digression.
I will now play lip service (with some actual concern inter sprinkled) to this undercurrent of interpersonal relationship issues of no real consequence. I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re from Los Angeles, or Baltimore, Portland, Blickblickastan, New Jersey (ok I might care if you are from New Jersey), Timbuktu, or points unknown. The very apparent sides of East vs. West (United States that is, not in the broader global sense), Los Angeles vs. New York remind me of a great anecdote (Deliver us from evil please, don’t let The Ruggist go on more…too late!) Once while having coffee with a junior publisher of a magazine we were discussing the very topic of New York vs. L.A.. Now to be fair I should state I have absolutely no love of L.A. I find its claim as a city to be spurious at best as it is just one gigantic sprawling suburb. I mean how can you claim to be a city if I cannot use public transit to get around? Anyway, back to the story. He was about to move to L.A. and had this to say: Angelinos spend all their time trying to convince everyone how much better L.A. is than New York, whereas New Yorkers are just trying to catch a cab. As a self-professed expat Ohio born Canadian-American East Coast/New York City want to be, that is how I feel about the rift if you will. NYICS is the New Yorker just trying to go about his business and The Rug Show is there telling everyone how much better of a show it is. So with that said, tell us what you really think Michael?
** As a footnote to this section I should state that both New York and Los Angeles are “Alpha” cities and the real distinction comes down to personal preference, of which mine is obvious. Though the referenced Globalization and World Cities Research Network does rank New York Higher.
Juvenile Pissing Matches Aside
While NYICS has taken on a high-end trade show appearance (think ICFF, IDS, some buildings at DOMOTEX, and the like), and to be fair I am very partial to this style of presentation, The Rug Show’s more rug bazaartine (I made this word up as I liked the sound) old school approach reminds me of NYICS when it was at the Armoury: Vibrant with a real palpable energy and excitement. Unfortunately it also reminds me of all the negative associations I have with sleazy old-school rug dealers. You know the ones, the ones whose price varies on arbitrary, male chauvinistic and misogynistic criteria. Now I am most certainly not saying that The Rug Show organizers, nor their exhibitors are any of those things, I’m just saying the style of show reminded me of that. Think the back corner of temporaries in Atlanta circa 2002.  I for one favour the look of NYICS as I think our industry needs to work to be less bazaar (can also be read as: bizarre) and more polished, especially since everyone claims to be selling fashion these days. Though that is a topic for another day. Moreover there was also a clear distinction in product offering as well, with Tibetan/Modern being at NYICS and Traditional/Afghani/Pakistani production being at The Rug Show.
Overall I found the presentation at NYICS was more inviting and sophisticated, whereas, and here is a bit more of the juice I am sure you came here for, the presentation of The Rug Show, particularly and the overarching factor of its location at the Javits, was depressing. The Javits is a huge facility and The Rug Show was only in one small portion thereof, with nothing else perceivable (except copious amounts of construction) going on in the building. Walking into the Javits I felt like I was inconveniencing the facility by visiting. Food vendors weren’t open, signage was poor, and did I mention the construction? It was not inviting and I felt like I was walking behind some seedy roadside motel to look at rugs. Not that the rugs that I saw weren’t worth looking at, but the venue was just not intimate nor in my opinion inviting, and distracted me from really enjoying the great rugs to be had.
If you’ve gotten to this point you are surely thinking: “Wow, The Ruggist really has it in for The Rug Show” and since I decided to publish this you are certainly within your rights to believe that, but it is not entirely the case. I just think that the two (2) shows and the perceived negativity (fuelled now perhaps in part by this post) is not good for rug buyers. Sure the shows are competing in the classical sense but for what? More attendees? More buyers? More sales? Ha! I can assure you the list (even as it evolves) of qualified and real buyers is finite and easily discerned. It is not that one show should “win” over the other, it is that one exhibitor needs to “win” over  another. All of the exhibitors at both shows just want to sell rugs, and the best way to do that is to be in place, in one show, to be locked in friendly competition, each making the wares they feel are best, allowing customers to decide. “Slow down there Mr. Christie” you say, “Didn’t you say it made sense to be in NYC at the same time as the NYCIS?”. Yes I did say that, but I should clarify now having been to both shows.
To clarify and what I would like to see.
On premise it makes sense to be where the action is, where your customers are, and, if you interpret it this way, where your competing show is. This is without question. But! The shows were not adjacent to one another, nor were the facilities comparable. From a New York perspective, “The Rug Show” might as well have been in The Bronx, as the perception of how long it would take to get across town was enough to have people questioning whether they would bother to make the journey. Moreover, and this is not necessarily the fault of the organizers of The Rug Show, but the Javits was just depressing.
I would like to see one (1) bigger better show. All of the vendors at both shows make products that the market demands and consumes, and most are highly worthy of praise. Surely a bigger venue will be required if space is a concern, though there is something about being able to say: “Sold Out!” I know several vendors and myself included would like to see better advertising and promotion to get buyers to the show. (Sorry Dennis but that website looks like it should be on the way back time machine. Google that if you don’t know what I am talking about.) And since I am going on, I’d like to see more show sponsored events and presentations to build camaraderie, not that I would get an invite after this post.
In conclusion
Maybe I’m wrong and both shows were a resounding success. Maybe it’ll be ironic that NYICS would have to move to the Javits next year due to space concerns. Maybe, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what I say if customers/buyers are willing to go to both shows. In the end, it is just my opinion.
I hope you enjoyed. Please come back for the next post featuring some final rug and carpet reviews from NYICS and “The Rug Show”. Thank you and good bye.