By Nancy Meyer
HIGH POINT, N.C.–The High Point Market opens this week with a new, stronger international component and a more developed lineup of business, educational and entertainment events for attendees.
The spring edition, which kicks off April 7 and runs through April 13, is expected to draw upward of 75,000 attendees from all over the world. Pre-registration figures were in line with spring of last year, according to officials at High Point Market Authority, which organizes the event.
While the furniture business has been unsteady for the past year or so, there’s plenty of business to be done in High Point, exhibitors told HFN. Despite several recent retail failures, the furniture industry still has many strong, midsize regionals and independents of all sizes who need new goods for their stores. Further, with the U.S. currency rate, American-made goods are even more attractive to international buyers, who will be even more plentiful than in markets past, officials noted.
This edition marks High Point’s first designation as a U.S. Commercial Service International Buyer Program event, which provides many resources and opportunities to connect exhibitors to a wider range of international buyers. Major delegations are expected from the West African nations of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry and Cameroon, as well as Spain, Mexico, Uruguay and Canada. These delegations are in addition to the significant numbers of international buyers that regularly attend the market, the Market Authority said.
This program could provide valuable leads for small to midsize businesses that may never have considered exporting. HPMA and U.S. Commercial Service will host visitors in the new International Buyer Center located at the corner of Wrenn and High streets, on the first floor of Showplace West. They’ll host a special reception on Tuesday, April 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the String & Splinter Club for all international guests; and matchmaking activities between delegates, foreign buyers and exhibitors will be led by Department of Commerce personnel throughout market week.
High Point Market continues the program for spring market 2009.
To tie in to this international initiative, a special symposium devoted to exploring Sweden’s unique design philosophy and home furnishings capabilities will be offered free to all market attendees. The Swedish Design Symposium, co-sponsored by Merchandise Mart Properties and HPMA, in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Industrial Development Center West Sweden AB, is set for 2 p.m. April 7 to 9 in the Suites at Market Square, Space 1-300.
Throughout market week, a variety of furnishings representing the craft, design and manufacturing capabilities of Swedish furniture companies will be displayed near the seminar room in Space 1-528, Suites at Market Square.
This market also features an expanded roster of free educational programs.
The Sustainable Furniture Council has partnered with MMPI on a week-long series of free breakfast and lunch seminars to be staged on the top floor of the Suites at Market Square. The “Great Starts” series will run from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday with coffee and pastries, and discussing such topics as shopping smart for green options, differences in raw materials and waste management/recycling strategies. Vaughan-Bassett has co-sponsored the morning series to promote its 141 tree replanting program.
The “Lunch ‘N Learn” series will run from noon to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, serving food and drink, and offering such topics as a 10-Step program to get green, interior design for CEU credit and case studies. Harden Furniture and World of Good have co-sponsored the lunch series. Seminars are intended for manufacturers, retailers and designers alike, and are open to all, free of charge. For more information, see sustainablefurniturecouncil.org.
The Interior Design Society has also planned a variety of speakers and events for its new seminar space in the organization’s new national headquarters housed in the Radio Building.
High Point Market has been positioning itself as more than just a trade show, with frequent color, design and other trend reports broadcast online and over monitors continually throughout market.
Additionally, a new conceptual trend center called Amazed will open this week on the top floor of the Suites at Market Square. Designed as a maze of distinct rooms with each providing a different experience for the visitor, Amazed is filled with thought-provoking ideas designed to inspire designers, retailers and manufacturers to rethink and rejuvenate their business.
The Amazed concept was developed by Lynn Carroll of Covet, Mike Farrell of Imagine Adventures and MMPI. The Amazed trend center will be a regular feature at future High Point markets, although the content of the area will change each market.
“In light of current business conditions, we are redoubling our efforts to make the buyer’s experience in High Point this spring more productive and dynamic than ever before,” said Brian D. Casey, HPMA president and chief executive officer. “Indeed, there will be more special events taking place here, in a variety of new venues, than we have ever undertaken as a market. The goal is to give our attendees every possible advantage and tool they require to move their businesses forward.”
This is the time for dealers to freshen up sales floors and show off new products, in an effort to stimulate consumers to buy, exhibitors said. There will be an abundance of new product releases and line extensions in every category, from upholstery and case goods to ready-to-assemble furniture, lighting, wall decor and accessories.
On the entertainment front, live concerts by Kool & The Gang (April 7), Cheap Trick (April 8) and Robert Cray (April 9) will be staged this market as part of HPMA’s Stars Under the Stars series. All Stars Under The Stars concerts take place under the Showplace Tent and begin at 7:30 p.m., with the doors opening at 7 p.m.
Additionally, there will be musical entertainment under the Showplace Tent and across the market, along with an abundance of complimentary food and drink options.