Post 9/11: Uncertain Times
Another look back in honor of our 20th anniversary: Not even two years into the new millennium, the residential lighting industry was already feeling the pressure of a decade without mercy.
Cori Dunn
Residential Lighting magazine

Residential Lighting editors were just arriving at work, ready to put the October issue to bed, when two planes crashed into the Twin Towers on Sept. 11, 2001. With the famed lighting district on the Bowery in Lower Manhattan and plenty of businesses just a subway or ferry ride away, many in our industry had a frightening front row seat to the events as they unfolded, while the rest watched wall-to-wall coverage.

On that day, the world began to adjust to the “new normal.” For many months, it felt like no one really knew for sure what would happen next. The economy was already on shaky ground; since the NASDAQ hit its peak in mid-March, the stock market had been making people more nervous and less wealthy by the day. The situation did not bode well for residential lighting showrooms and their vendors, whose business fortunes rise and fall with new construction and remodeling spending. In the decade’s earliest years, most in the industry were finding that growth was hard to come by.

The struggling economy hit many lighting manufacturers especially hard. In an annual survey from 2002, 53 percent of OEMs said the unfavorable business climate was their number-one business challenge; only a year earlier, 6 percent had named the economy as their biggest obstacle.

The events of Sept. 11 changed the world significantly, including the home fashion world. In an interview published in spring 2002, Jay de Sibour, President of the Color Marketing Group, said colors became muted and more sophisticated following the tragedy. The trend expert said the moody, complex colors jibed with consumers’ increased interest in family, religion, spiritualism and a craving for safety and “the good old days.” With patriotism running high, classic red, white and blue popped up everywhere in the home, from lamp shades and housewares to small promotional items that all reminded us to stand united.


Looking Back: 2002

Photos of the first American Lighting Assn. (ALA) Lighting Hall of Fame inductees are featured in a new wall display at the January Dallas Market.

Leaders of the World Market Center receive the key to the city from the Las Vegas Mayor two years before the first showroom building is scheduled to open.

At the spring High Point Market, wall décor specialist Uttermost launches its first line of table lamps, including some designed by Carolyn Kinder. Pacific Coast Lighting launches the Chateau Lighting Collection by Kathy Ireland.

Lighting One holds its first-ever Convention in Dallas.

Colleen Visage is named Senior Product Manager for Decorative Products at Progress Lighting.


United We Stand:

Just four weeks after Sept. 11, a patriotic parade down Main Street kicked off the October 2001 High Point Market. SWAT teams positioned on rooftops throughout kept show attendees safe from terrorist attack. Patriotism was in the air; a New York Intl. Gift Fair gala in January 2002 raised $50,000 for the World Trade Center Twin Towers Fund.


About this author

Cori Dunn

Cori Dunn has been covering the retail, lighting and furniture industries since 1982, and was the Founding Editor of Residential Lighting. Dunn also created Furniture Style and Home Fashion Forecast magazines. In this blog, she takes a look back at the last two decades in the lighting industry, in honor of Residential Lighting's 20th anniversary.

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