Was April's first annual National Floor Covering Month everything we really wished for? No, but it was successful enough to assure that it will be repeated next year and for many years to come.

Will we see changes next year? No question about it. More retailers will tie their stores to the promotion to capitalize on bringing in consumers not only during April but over the following months as well. And in the future, you can count on seeing more manufacturer and distributor advertising dovetailing the event.

The WFCA delivered what it promised - in fact, more than most had hoped for. In its initial announcement, WFCA said, "The primary vehicle of the program is a public relations effort to place stories about floor coverings in shelter and women's magazines, large and small newspapers, and on television." Logos featuring the "Look Down For A Change" campaign theme were made available to retailers, distributors and manufacturers to use in their own advertising efforts.

The coverage in the print media - with information, articles and photos about "all types of floor coverings" - did an outstanding job of reaching consumers. It not only educated them about the multitude of floors available, it also showed why and how to use floor coverings effectively in furnishing their homes. Television was used extensively in several marketing areas. TV programs featured Lauren Koslow, star of NBC's "Days of our Lives." She talked about floor coverings as a fashion product and fielded questions from listeners.

Frankly, many of us expected to see more dealer, distributor and manufacturer advertising tying in with this year's promotion. Some retailers used newspaper advertising to leverage the program in their own stores. Some Carpet One retailers made use of the group's full-color newspaper jumbo inserts to promote the event and their stores.

I have no doubt that in 2002, dealers, distributors and manufacturers will dramatically increase their National Floor Covering Month advertising and promotion. After all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that, when you generate interest among millions of consumers, bringing the message down to the local level is smart business.

I agree with WFCA CEO Chris Davis who, in announcing the program last fall, said, "Just as Surfaces became a defining marketing event for the floor covering industry, we anticipate building the National Floor Covering Month promotion into an annual marketing vehicle to drive consumers into floor covering stores and generate significant sales."

Those of us who launched Surfaces are well aware that it took time to develop and grow. It began modestly, but the indicators were there to justify its continuance. And over the years, it grew into the mammoth show that it is today.

I have no doubts about the future of National Floor Covering Month. The industry has learned the need for a strong vehicle that reaches the consuming public with the real message of floor coverings. And that message is fashion through a variety of floors. Fashion, not price.

The beauty of the whole thing is that the program features all types of floor coverings, which is what smart retailers show and sell.

Make no mistake about it. This isn't a "Clearance Sale" promotion - it's a strong, positive fashion-and-quality story. It's the kind of selling that separates the professional floor covering retailer from the discounters, big boxes and others who cater to the price-only buyers.