Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Discontinued"! The backup plan

One of the most frustrating aspects of interior design - whether you're a homeowner or professional - is how quickly a fabric, wallpaper or other item can become discontinued. Manufacturers are constantly evaluating their wares for availability and saleability. If an item is either deemed too difficult or expensive to produce, or the sales haven't been worth the cost to produce, then quicker than you can imagine, the item is no longer available.

When we're searching for beautiful fabrics for our projects, we often "fall in love" with a particular item and it's not uncommon for us to base an entire project around a single design. So, it can be a real bummer if the fabric we've been dreaming of is suddenly not available. So frustrating!! Unfortunately, it's a pretty common experience and the only way to avoid such disappointments is to either purchase the fabric as quickly as possible, or have a back up selection.

For vendors and stores, this is an equally frustrating issue. It's very time consuming to keep one's sample library updated - whether it be fabric, wallpaper or whatever. Our sources don't often send out "discontinued" lists, so often we don't know either until we try to order an item for a customer.

At Heller, we are on the front lines of this situation all the time. In business, it's always a balance between doing everything you want (having a perfectly updated sample library) vs. the time and salary cost of keeping up with it. I've been in the slow process of updating our sample library as it's been a couple years since it was done last. We were noticing that more and more fabric samples our clients were selecting were discontinued, so it was time. What a chore! But, in some cases, over 20% of our samples have been discontinued by the manufacturer so it's worth the time.

The moral of this tale of woe is that it's aways a good idea to have a plan B when selecting fabrics. Often, we're asked if the manufacturer can tell us what stores have the fabric. This information isn't generally possible and finding a desired, but discontinued, fabric is like finding a needle in a haystack. It's not impossible, but not probable.

Meanwhile, another management aspect of our business is keeping our sample library fresh and appealing. Sometimes, the most dated and blah fabrics are sold for years. I assume someone is buying them, but they often don't make for beautiful displays.

We're also in the process of rotating out the blah and making room for newer, more appealing lines. These are a few of the wonderful line of Pierre Deux upholstery fabrics we just got in. The patterns are traditional, but the colors are always bright and beautiful.

And here is a treasure trove of beautiful, textural neutrals from Kravet that are waiting to be unpacked.

So many fabrics... so little time!

1 comment:

Marine Vinyl said...

Discontinued items can be frustrating but "plan b" often push you into new creative directions you hadn't thought of.

Sometimes it turns out for the better, definately a double-edged sword!