A year ago, the High Point Market looked like a ghost town. While the bi-annual home furnishings trade show—traditionally held in April and October in High Point, N.C.—opted to cancel its spring 2020 show, it forged on that fall with a significantly scaled-back event. Many showrooms stayed shuttered, live events were cancelled, and the few buyers who attended amounted to a small fraction of the usual market traffic.
A year later, the show has definitely returned, though not quite to the same level of attendance enjoyed prior to the pandemic. And while official attendance numbers from the show held Oct. 16-20 aren’t in yet, a few indicators pointed to the return of a more robust market.
The Suites at Market Square—a three-story, 330,000-square-foot building housing temporary booths—reopened all floors this market. The past two markets—held in October 2020 and a postponed show in June 2021—didn’t draw enough exhibitors to open all three floors of the building. According to International Market Centers, which owns the building, the Suites at Market Square welcomed more than 200 brands this market.
“The Suites at Market Square are set to be a key destination for market with the design-driven resources meeting pent-up demand for new and next in furniture and décor,” Scott Eckman, IMC executive vice president, chief revenue officer, said leading up to the show.
One of those new exhibitors, outdoor teak furniture maker HiTeak, showed just last month at Casual Market Chicago, the outdoor-focused furnishings show held each fall at the Merchandise Mart. But the company opted to add High Point to its market roster to expand their reach to a wider range of buyers.
“We’re trying to reach designers and specialty boutique retailers we don’t get to see at Casual Market,” said Frances Atherton, business developer for HiTeak. High Point Market draws a significant number of interior designers, along with full-line furniture retailers.
Throughout market, exhibitors fortunate enough to have product in stock touted that fact, driving traffic to their showrooms.
One of those companies was Bellini Modern Living, a Canadian wholesaler specializing in contemporary, European-influenced furnishings. The company expanded its showroom—doubling its previous footprint to 12,000 square feet—to house new case goods and upholstery, as well as the company’s expansive new outdoor line.
According to Frederik Winther’s vice president of sales and marketing of Modern Living, much of the company’s product is available as part of a quick-ship program, with inventory stored in its 65,000-square-foot distribution center.
“We stock everything,” Winther said. “We can ship the same week we get the order for items in our quick-ship program. That’s so important right now.”
Winther reported strong traffic to the Bellini showroom, certainly a departure from the past 18 months. And while pandemic-related supply chain and logistics issues persist, most at the High Point Market seemed optimistic that this fall’s show serves as a harbinger of more normal times to come.