High Point Furniture Market Primer
I’m heading off to Fall 2022 High Point Furniture Market in a few weeks. Many of my clients have heard me talk about going to “Market”, but very few of them know what it is. I’ll share with you some inside baseball into what is “High Point Furniture Market” for those of you who may be curious.
High Point Furniture Market (or simply “Market”) is the largest furniture market in the world. According to the High Point Furniture Market Authority, “The High Point Market held in High Point, North Carolina, is the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world, with over 10 million square feet (1 km2) by roughly 2,000 exhibitors throughout about 180 buildings”.
Market is for the manufacturers' introduction of their new furniture collections. There are 2 High Point Furniture Markets annually; one in the Spring and one in the Fall.
You must wear a barcoded name tag pass which identifies your role in the industry, such as “buyer", "industry", or "guest". Just like other conferences, you must wear your pass the entire time and scanned into each building and showroom.
Market is very similar as “Ready to Wear Fashion”. Fashion houses debut their coming fashion lines in the Fall which is then sold in the stores for the following Spring and vice versa.
Many items from the last Market will still be on the showroom floor. If there were any items from the previous market that had a poor showing or lackluster sales, they will be removed or perhaps 'reimagined' for the following Market.
Anything introduced several Markets ago may not be available to be viewed because many of the suppliers are saving showroom space for newly introduced items. It's not the rule but is typical. Some of the showrooms are very small so the manufacturers cannot show their entire catalogue. Additionally, most of the showrooms are temporary leased spaces, so it's impractical for a manufacturer to ship their entire catalogue to High Point.
Newly introduced items at Market are typically available in 6 months.
Nothing has been typical lately since the pandemic. In fact, many of the suppliers did not show at Market for two to three markets in a row because of pandemic related restrictions and supply chain bottlenecks.
From an economic standpoint, Interior Designers drive the furniture industry, but not all suppliers are willing to do business with interior designers. Some of the showrooms at HPMKT are solely geared to sell to big box retailers or standalone furniture stores.
Sometimes these manufacturers will place restrictions on designers even if the designer has showroom space. Many manufacturers require a certain percentage of the showroom space be dedicated to that furniture line and many simply will not sell to designers directly.
Over the years I have learned who sells to designers and who doesn't. For that reason, there are showrooms that I don't even set foot in because it's a waste of my time. I am there to research lines to which I have direct access.
Many suppliers require a minimum “opening order”. This can range anywhere between $2,000 to $20,000 for an opening order. Yes, this downright stinks for us small business interior designers.
There will also be manufacturers at Market that sell "container programs" to retail chains. They are buying containers full of merchandise which are distributed to stores/online nationwide from a large distribution point (like W*yF**r). Typically, these suppliers will not be part of my Market plan. Tagged items in a showroom might indicate that they are available for container programs and the pricing is much less than the designer price, but I do not have access to these container programs. Online retail is the bane of the interior design practitioner because we simply do not have that kind of buying power.
Fabrics/Textiles: The textiles shown at Market are small showrooms and are not like the fancy fabric showrooms at trade only design centers, for example the Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) in Dania Beach, FL. The textile showrooms are in a separate textile building and they are usually set up as the suppliers to the furniture manufacturers. Typically, you need a corporate account with the mill or be an executive/buyer with a furniture manufacturer to gain access to these industry showrooms.
While the Market is always a business trip for me, it is also FUN. I get inspired, find new lines, see old friends, and it's a way for me to recharge my creative batteries. There is a lot of minutiae in the "business of interior design" and volumes of documentation and other paperwork which can dull the creative edge. Market helps me open the creative part of my mind that’s been bogged down by paper. While I'm there to work, I'm also there to reset my creative self.
If you want even more insight into this spectacular event, please visit the High Point Market website to get a glimpse into the world of furnishings. There is a lot of great information available by clicking this link https://www.highpointmarket.org
For more information on the history of High Point Furniture Market (which is over 110 years old!), there is some great information on High Point Discovered https://www.highpointdiscovered.org/stories/130-years-of-high-point-furniture-market/