Despite uncertain economic conditions and a good deal of apprehension expressed by many heading to High Point last week, the High Point Market Authority reported that when all was said and done, 83,974, industry professionals were registered by the High Point Market’s central registration system for Fall Market 2007.
According to Brian D. Casey, president and chief executive officer of the High Point Market Authority, more than half of the registration—47,441 or 56.6 percent—were buyers. Exhibitors and sales representatives requested another 29,115 badges. Some 5,660 industry passes were issued to suppliers, along with 487 passes for Market workers, which ranged from catering and food service staff to photographers. An additional 1,271 day passes were issued to students, guests and Market volunteers.
These figures do not include an additional 450 badges issued via the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) to members of the national consumer, trade press and international correspondents.
“We are exceptionally pleased to report that, this season, we once again saw an increase in the number of first-time visitors to High Point Market,” Casey says. “In fact, 4,625 buyers that have never visited High Point in the past registered to attend this Market. We also saw the return of another 3,030 buyers that have not registered for the High Point Market within the past two years or more. This tells us two things: First, our outreach and re-branding efforts are working. Second, retailers and designers who were no longer attending Market are responding positively to the many changes and improvements we have been implementing here.”
Among the High Point Market exhibitors seeing benefits from the increase in first-time visitors was Mario Morales, president of Mario & Marielena, a home textiles exhibitor housed on C&D’s fourth floor. “We had a record number of 500 new faces that were interested in the line,” Morales says. “It [the showroom] was crazy! Like Bloomingdale’s in New York. The high-end was buying.”
To ensure that the many first-time visitors had a proper introduction to High Point and a productive Market experience, the High Point Market Authority launched a first-time visitor initiative this season that included web content and collateral materials created specifically for the constituency.
“Our marketing team also led a series of at-Market, orientation seminars for first-time visitors in the High Point Theater gallery, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings during Market,” Casey says. “With 180 showroom buildings, more than 2,000 exhibitors presenting tens of thousands of product introductions across more than 60 product categories and some 12 million square feet of showroom space, the High Point Market is, without a doubt, the largest, most comprehensive resource for the home furnishings trade in the world. Yet, even the most savvy business travelers coming here for the first time often don’t know where to begin. The new seminar series enabled us to help those new to High Point to hit the ground running, and at the same time, provided our team with invaluable feedback that we will use moving forward to step up our activities and services even further.
“Many of the first-time visitors also took advantage of our Market Scout program, which pairs students from the High Point University interior design program with Market guests,” Casey continues. “This Market, ten Scouts worked intensively with buyers and designers visiting High Point for the first time from Poland and Israel, as well as a number of major domestic home builders, architects, interior designers and independent retailers. The Market guests who utilize the service are wowed by the personal attention and the ability to maximize their time on the ground, while the learning experience for the students is truly extraordinary.”
Despite tough business conditions, exhibitors across the Market reported being pleasantly surprised by results. Says Bob Lemons, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kincaid Furniture, for example, “We had better attendance this High Point Market than at any other market in the past two-and-a-half years. Our double-digit increase in account registration during Market came as the result of us getting the word out. Higher visibility in the marketplace and consistent communications with retailers really paid off.”
“Business has been tough this summer and we really didn’t know what to expect at Market,” admits Raschella Collection owner, Pauline Raschella. “The good news is that we saw our dealers from across the country and we wrote business.”
“This Market was a welcome boost for our company,” relates Zagaroli Classics owner Todd Zagaroli, and MacKenzie Dow owner Gary Adams is equally upbeat. “We came to Market optimistic,” Adams says, “but did even better than we expected. High Point is good for us. We are a growing company and every Market we meet new dealers interested in our line.”
“We had the best Market ever,” comments Terry Seitz, owner of Terry Seitz, Inc., which encompasses a number of companies at Market, including IMS Italia, Slate Vision and Woodbrook Designs. “We expanded our showroom and got all the normal traffic and new people we hadn’t expected. We had major commitments from every single dealer that walked in. Ninety-five percent of our designs were winners. It was an incredible Market and I’m very pleased.”
“We saw all of our major accounts and opened international accounts,” says Duncan Elcombe, head of sales at West Coast-based manufacturer Zocalo. “Plus, with our East Coast warehouse program we are now seeing more independent business. This has been another good Market for us and we remain very positive about High Point.”
“Business conditions are indeed tough, but what I see is the successful people get more creative during slow times,” relates Hamilton Square general manger Eddie Forward. “Small independents, as well as the majors, are looking for ways to generate more business and better profits and dealers realize High Point covers the full spectrum of product for the consumer. I really believe that is why we have seen all of this positive activity this Market, even with business being slow at retail.”
About the High Point Market Authority:
The High Point Market Authority is the official sponsor of the High Point Market in High Point, North Carolina. Featuring an extensive selection of exhibitors spanning every category, style and price point and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 110 countries twice each year, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry.
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