The tile and stone show in Orlando was another worthwhile yet difficult trip. While there were not the number of new items we had hoped we were able to make some new connections, visit with existing suppliers and get an idea on the direction the tile and stone markets are going.
The predominant thing in natural stone slabs is lighter colors. We did make contact with Vermont Stone who is responsible for the Danby Marble that T & M is selling in our market. While nothing has been finalized it appears we might be able to secure a competitive advantage over others by stocking this material. As more details become available we will keep you updated. We were also able to order additional Terra Bianca that will be coming one side honed and the other polished. Also we ordered Antique Brown with one side brushed and one side polished from Marco Marcolini in Italy.
From Brazil we have ordered more Caramello Ornamental and more slabs of Taj Mahal to replace the slabs that we sold through. Also while we were in Orlando we were able to purchase 14 slabs of a white quartzite that is very similar to White Princess which is currently not available from Italy. These slabs are beautiful and will not last long.
Regarding natural stone tiles we restocked our inventory of natural stone from Turkey including the snow white stone that we have been sold out of for sometime. Understand that it might take 3 to 6 months to get good white materials but at least we have a commitment from the supplier.
In tile we restocked the Marmi line that mimics Statuario and expanded it with tiles that look like Calcatta. We think that both of these items will continue to be very important in the market. Once again 12 x24 was the predominate size everyone was selling and buying. Having said that larger tiles are coming with many tiles being offered in sizes like 24 x 48, 32 x 32 & 18 x 36. The wood look was also everywhere but we did not pull the trigger on a new wood line yet because of the distribution of certain products in our area. We also did add an inexpensive Italian porcelain tile in two colors 12 x 24 that we can sell at $ 2.79 in large quantities.
In glass we spent time at Lunada Bay who is rolling out their Tommy Bahama line which will have even more limited distribution than their open line. Simply great news colors and some new patterns that are not available anywhere else. We have also opened up negotiations with an importer out of New York that has some really cutting edge products that we feel would play very well with our current offering. Hopefully we will know more in the coming months.
Susie was also very busy scheduling training. What is very apparent is that our sales always spike right after we have training on products. The reps are anxious to get in front of the sales staff to educate them on their products and it clearly results in sales. One area that is clearly getting more important everyday in wall tile. Long and thin was everywhere. 3 x 6 while still important is morphing into 4 x 12 or 4 x 16 or even 4 x 24. Soft earth tones are everywhere and crackle tiles seem to be disappearing. Finally cement, yes cement tiles are coming and coming soon in three dimensional formats.
On the mosaic front we ordered 40 new ADEX boards to update our current offering from them. We ordered grouted boards from Island Stone which feature their new items. Additionally we ordered display materials from Solistone to supplement what we currently offer. Finally, Elon stone had a great new selection of small hexagons in natural stone which will fill a void in the the showroom.
Overall the market did not seem as busy as prior years but the vendors we talked too were happy with the number of orders that were being placed and the general upbeat atmosphere. I do believe that the strength of the US dollar against the Euro will help us to offset higher transportation costs and the problems we have had with fumigation of containers from Italy. We do feel that our current selection of stone tile, porcelain tile and stone tops is where it should be. It was nice to see people upbeat but with that comes the availability and distribution issues. One thing I am sure of is that by participating in the market our vendors including distributors that sell in Chicago know that Lewis Floor and Home is a serious player in both the tile and slab businesses.
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