Attending High Point Market is almost a rite of passage for all North Carolinians. Because while anyone can drive down to High Point, walk the streets and peer in through the windows, only those in the industry are allowed to pass through the gilded doors and step foot in the stunning showrooms. So, when I joined Nationwide Marketing Group in 2019, I was almost giddy at the prospect of being able to attend HPM as an official industry representative.
I managed to get a single, short visit in to Market right after I joined NMG, and I was taken aback by the sights and sounds, the hustle and bustle, the glamour of this uniquely North Carolina experience. But then COVID came, and my forays to High Point were put on hold. Until now.
This fall, I had a chance to revisit High Point Market. And while the crowds were lower than pre-COVID times — about 50% of a “traditional” Market, according to most estimates — there was still a good bit of foot traffic and definitely higher volumes than during the most active days of the pandemic. Plus, it was a great opportunity to see both new product introductions and some updated favorites, and talk with some of our key Vendor Partners — including Magnussen Home, Ashley Furniture, Flexsteel, Malouf, Jackson Catnapper, Leather Italia, Eastman House and Elements — about what’s coming down the pike.
So, what did I learn? Here are five key takeaways:
- We talk a lot about technology and how it’s supporting the growth of the connected home, but technology definitely expands beyond the kitchen and media room. Power headrests, smart light headboards, zero gravity recliners that help release the strain on your aching back — today’s bedroom / dining room / family room offerings are just as smart as the products you’ll find in the rest of the house. Plus, more are incorporating these power features in hidden ways, so you can get the technology you want while maintaining a cleaner, non-techie look.
- Sustainability is BIG in F&B, and it can be found in the most unusual of ways. High Point Market showcases included indoor furniture collections featuring fabrics constructed from recycled water bottles, eco-friendly bedding materials, reclaimed and recycled woods that still bore the scars of old nail holes, and pieces constructed from responsibly harvested forests. Not only are these collections differentiators in the market due to their environmentally friendly origins, but they also stood out from a design aesthetic.
- IKEA better watch out because more manufacturers are getting into the RTA (ready-to-assemble) furniture space. These products aren’t just super affordable, they’re also super cute, especially the kid-sized versions of adult furniture for children who like to emulate their parents (at a much lower price point). There were a lot of RTA products that were also slightly smaller than the traditional loveseat / couch / bedroom suite — perfect for smaller homes or apartments.
- Cookie cutter is going by the wayside. Instead, manufacturers are embracing customization — colors, arms, legs, fabrics — and nuances, such as eye-catching stitching and custom-designed handles. And they’re doing it without making their products unaffordable for the general consumer.
- Availability may still be an issue, but there is stock available. If you know where to look. A number of vendors were showcasing products that are in stock and ready for almost immediate delivery. And while some manufacturers were quoting long lead times, especially for custom pieces, others are tapping into domestic resources to speed up delivery and satisfy both retailers and consumers.
High Point Market was, and continues to be, an amazing experience and opportunity. I can’t wait to visit again in the spring!
Amy Croom is the director of public relations and communications for Nationwide Marketing Group.