High Point Market leaves exhibitors optimistic
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, May 8, 2012
HIGH POINT — Despite a perplexing slowdown of retail business in April, buyers and exhibitors departed the High Point Market in an optimistic mood, convinced that the strong first quarter was a better indicator of things to come.
Exhibitors generally said showroom traffic was about even with or slightly above last year's markets, and said order-writing and new product placements remained healthy.
As is customary, many national accounts and Top 100 retailers shopped the market in force well before the official opening day on April 21, and exhibitors who service those dealers generally had their showroom ready at least two days before the opening.
"We had a great market," Len Burke, director of marketing and retail at upholstery and case goods resource Klaussner, told Furniture/Today. "Our attendance was up about 10% from the October market, and we saw all the retailers we were hoping to see."
Burke said Klaussner, like many exhibitors, found a warm reception for its U.S.-made goods.
"Our domestic upholstery business just continues to grow," he said.
Lee Fautsch, vice president of sales for residential furniture at Flexsteel, echoed those sentiments, noting that his company was especially successful with a new line of domestically produced motion upholstery.
"We made a big push on all of our domestically produced goods, and that was really well received," said Fautsch.
The positive feelings weren't limited to domestic products, however. Tom Tilley, president and owner of upper-end case goods resource Thomas & Gray, said traffic in his Market Square showroom was up 34% compared with the October market and also was ahead of last April's show.
"It was measurably up from previous markets and written business was significantly higher than anything we have had before," Tilley said. "For a new company that is starting out, the name of the game is to get your name out there with dealers and designers, and we accomplished that."
He added that dealer attitudes were positive and that people were looking for "new ideas and sources - that was a factor in the success we had."
Victor Sawan, CEO of iron beds manufacturer Wesley Allen, said overall attendance was down due to cold and rainy weather on the second and third days of market - days when the company would normally get its best traffic.
Still, he was pleased with the quality of the traffic and the level of interest in new product, including beds with urban modern designs.
"The quality of customers that came in was extremely impressive," he added. "We had some major and solid dealers that came in and they spent a lot of time. We closed some good deals and made some good contacts. It was very promising."
For a longer version of this story, see this week's print issue of Furniture/Today, which has extensive coverage of the High Point Market - including 13 pages of photos of well-received introductions in our Best of Market section.