[A version of this article appeared in print in the April 2016 issue of Rug News andDesign Magazine.]
The Focus Group this month was made up of salespeople from both sides of the street at ABC Carpet & Home in Manhattan. And like good New Yorkers, they spoke their minds.
One questionnaire came back: “Some pictures are more focused to sell furniture. If my choice (Dash and Albert) were focused to sell rugs, it would have shown the whole picture [uncropped] with furniture and accessories.”
“Pictures should say a story, and #1 is the perfect example. #3 would be the chair and the rug to complete that peaceful look—and the coffee.”
Another said of the overall selection: “Trend is monochromatic.”
And that is what this writer saw on the sales floor of ABC, who do service the biggest fashion market in the US—New York City.
Another said of the overall look: “1. The good: New ideas, always good. 2. The bad: Need more of today’s fashion. 3. The ugly: No comment here.”
“Feels like the pictures were taken in the 80’s or 90’s. Informative. Good detail.”
Another overall comment was: “I feel none of them really showcase the rugs. Also, seems dated.”
One of the salespeople went further afield and commented on the “Knotted Rug” section. “I appreciate the antique carpet info [Five Things I Learned… by Sarah Stroh, about Abe Moheban’s Encyclopedia]. As a rug salesperson there’s always more to learn, and it keeps me interested.”
“In general, I feel like the styling seems a bit dated.” And the commenter continued with, “I don’t know how much control you have over the Lifestyle photos you use. Fun cover.”
We asked for candid feedback. Be careful what you wish for!
We asked for a vote and comments. Winners are shown, and some other pictures that were noticed support comments made above.
As Senior Editor, I am exhilarated by the candor and cooperation. Nobody ever said that New York City represented the U.S. One questionnaire came back: “I don’t like any of these pictures. P.S. Composition is terrible.” And to their credit, they signed their name. Another said, “I liked the magazine, it has helpful information. But it feels more like companies’ brochure than a magazine. Meaning, too much commercial pages back to back.”
Another said of the magazine, “I chose the rugs in the order of my favorite rooms and then saw they were taken from the magazine, which was okay. It seemed dated. Though only a trade magazine, it could be a little more edgy.”
Wishfully, perhaps, but based on what I see on the Internet commodity sales companies, I believe Lifestyle does represent a retailer orientation to rugs across the country. Even so, change happens.
By the way, “Only a trade magazine??”
The pictures we use in Lifestyle are a self-selected cross section of the rug vendor base. I think there are two issues at play: how do we as an industry display, and what do we present?
One of our goals is to support the salespeople. Focusing on people means we have made choices. It means we have put people ahead of product—a very radical idea in the business of rugs. Overall it is women who make rugs, and women who buy rugs. Buying rugs from people is different than buying from a postage stamp picture online.
There are two rules for the Lifestyle section: One is that you send a room shot to [email protected], and two is that you have the right to do so. We send reminder emails to vendors and previous participants to request more photos and provide deadlines.