Our industry is not young in any literal sense, but it does enjoy a youthful vibrancy. Steeped in family tradition and small enough to depend upon the strength of longterm relationships, it would seem more akin to an elder gent. Yet its inextricable ties to technological advancement present a sharp dichotomy that tempers potential stodginess with an eager eye toward the future.
In a pointed example of this phenomenon, Quoizel celebrated its 75th anniversary at January's Dallas Market with a complete rebranding package ("The Wire," page 28, February 2006), top-level personnel changes and entry into a new category. While raising a toast to its legacy, the company simultaneously took the opportunity to reinvigorate its business through some significant modifications. Longevity is something in which to rightly take great pride, but resting on one's laurels is a greater risk than embracing change. Customers need a spark thrown their way from time to time, or the romance will fall flat.
Maybe we're experiencing our own version of the "seven-year itch," but it seems as if the entire industry is searching for a fling, something fresh and exciting. Trendspotting was quite the challenge in Dallas last month. Not that there wasn't anything new to examine—in fact, what made it so difficult was that exhibitors went all out with their introductions. Whether they represented a departure for the manufacturers themselves or for the industry as a whole, new concepts and even sometimes categories peppered nearly every showroom with energy. Each was striving to be the first one to tap into tomorrow's hot trend and strike gold.
You can feel it in the air, can't you? The next big thing is coming. Vendors are making their move. And you appear to be, too. This month's issue's list of the products from our pages that drew the most reader requests for more information from October 2004 through September 2005 ("The Top 100," page 56) reveals that untapped vendors, innovative designs and the latest technology are paramount concerns for you right now. The big boxes will likely stick with the tried and true, and you'll win the race by bringing your customers the brand spanking new.
CHANDRA PALERMO, Editor
What do you think the "next big thing" will be?
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