Surfaces 2005 displayed some marked differences from the past. For one, those of us who have long urged the industry to free itself from price selling and latch on to selling fashion enjoyed more support than we could have ever imagined. Surfaces left no doubt that the gap between selling fashion and selling price has definitely narrowed among retailers, contractors and installers at all levels and suppliers across all product lines and services. Fashion has the momentum; its leadership is within striking distance. Here are some of the myths and sacred cows that got their butts kicked.

Many were convinced that Surfaces could not survive after some of the large and dominant exhibitors dropped out in favor of regional dealer meetings, etc. They made marketing decisions that they felt were best for their companies. As it turned out, Surfaces again had a huge, multi-thousand attendance with a record breaking number of companies showing. There was also a heck of a lot of large and dominant exhibitors who had great results at the show.

So, the dropouts did not kill the show. Far from it, what did happen was that attendees discovered a number of other companies of a variety of sizes. This has been good for them as well as the suppliers. This has also encouraged many of the smaller companies to make some tremendous changes and bring to market innovative and creative products and services. This is healthy for the entire industry. It also further enhances the value and image of Surfaces. All of which should put to rest the myth that the show can't go on because some opt to stay home.

Another sacred cow is that the industry has reached its zenith in technological advances. If you believe that you must also believe in the Easter Bunny. Exhibit after exhibit - large, medium and small - unveiled mind-boggling products created by a combination of technology and design.

And particularly close to my heart is what was so very evident this year. I was the moderator for a panel on the subject of "Live by Price, Die by Price. Live by Fashion, Thrive by Fashion." The panelists were Dan Hussey of B & L Flooring America in Prescott Valley, Ariz. and Sam O'Krent of O'Krent's Abbey Flooring Center in San Antonio. Both are outstanding retailers who live and breathe featuring fashion and not price. They freely shared how and why they feature fashion in every aspect of their stores. The audience's participation, questions and avid note taking made it crystal clear that the industry is even more interested in developing the fashion approach and putting price in its proper position than many of us hoped. Wow! Frankly, it was a thrilling experience.

Still another example of the strengthening belief in the validity of becoming a true fashion industry in word and deed is what took place in the exhibits. Fashion was given center stage in exhibit after exhibit. The focus was predominately on fashion with products displayed and presented in an eye-catching manner.

As for the myths and sacred cows discussed here, and some others not discussed, all I can say is "Good riddance." This is an exciting industry that doesn't need the excess baggage of outdated ideas, habits and thinking.