How Designers Make the Most out of High Point Market
Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran, visiting High Point Market is always an adventure: We’re talking 12 million square feet of interior design resources—or in other words, about 201 football fields of furnishings. Another fun fact that puts the market’s sheer size in perspective: The construction that occurs in the IHFC building alone each year is equal to building 1,200 single family homes. (And here you thought you were knee-deep in installs!)
Clearly, getting what you want out of the world’s largest home-furnishings trade show requires some smart strategizing. That’s why we’ve recently gathered insider insight from two High Point pros—Ashley Grigg, director of marketing and communications for High Point Market Authority, and Liz Goldberg, founder and principal designer for CAROLYNLEONA in Raleigh, N.C., who attends the market twice every year. In a recent Ivy webinar, Making the Most of High Point Market, they share the best ways to not only plan your trip to HPMKT but leave feeling like you conquered it. “High Point is the furniture capital of the world—everything is accessible to you in one place,” Goldberg explains. “We’re getting out from behind our computer, out of our showroom or office and just exploring all our industry has to offer.” In case you can’t listen to the full webinar right now, here’s a cheat sheet to their best insider tips and High Point Market planning advice.
If you’re new, get a preview.
First things first: Spend some time on highpointmarket.org, where you’ll find preview guides to the upcoming market and all its scheduled events. Check out the Products and Trends page to see what people are pre-buzzing about and check out the What’s New section for product picks and trend reports. Plus, there’s a section devoted to planning your High Point trip, including checklists and concierge services. Be sure to sign up to receive e-news, so you won’t miss any important updates. And as soon as you get to the show, stop by The Point, where you’ll find a staff of market advisors ready to talk you through your first visit.
Figure out your visit logistics.
Book your hotel a.s.a.p. Veterans book their hotels as soon as they leave the previous season’s market, since prime accommodations (like Proximity Hotel) fill up quickly. Don’t stress too much about where you end up staying, though—you’ll be out and about, not hanging in your hotel. Keep in mind that you can also stay in Winston Salem/Greensboro, a bit further away.
If all the hotels are full… Call the High Point Market concierge service, which will help you search, ask a friend if you could share her Airbnb, or post in an interior design Facebook group, like the Ivy Facebook group, to find a fellow designer to bunk with (sometimes people also post rooms that become available when their plans change). “Don’t let this step hold you back from going—you can always find a place to stay,” Grigg says.
Forget driving. From Raleigh and Charlotte, there’s a free shuttle that runs 6 times a day; you’ll need to reserve this in advance. “The shuttles are actually really nice and a great way to meet other designers—exchange business cards, learn of a a showroom you’ve never heard of or a restaurant,” Goldberg says. If the shuttle times don’t work for you, there’s always Uber or Lyft; it’s easier to use these than drive and deal with parking (there are two free parking lots, but otherwise you’ll have to pay).
Set HPMKT goals in advance.
This is an ideal place to discover new vendors, deepen relationships with your existing ones, attend panels and workshops to learn from industry leaders, and network with other designers. Decide what your top priorities are during this visit. “Each market can be different for you depending on the phase you are in in your business, which is exactly why I attend Spring and Fall HPMKT,” Goldberg says.
Make a showroom game plan.
Book key appointments. Some showrooms require appointments—especially big showrooms like upholstery companies—and it’s smart to make appointments with all your must-see vendors. With bigger brands, do this by calling or emailing the local rep for your area before market.
Map a path. Take into account where showrooms you’re interested are located and have a rough game plan of how you’ll hit them all. (You can do this using the app; see below).
Don’t overbook. Leave free time for wandering and discovering. “My go-to is two morning appointments and two afternoon appointments, which leaves plenty of time for exploration,” Goldberg says.
Here are some of Goldberg’s current must-see showrooms:
Universal – you need an appointment
Surya – you don’t need an appointment, but I make one so our rep can scan our wish list
Baker – a dreamy showroom with a gilded archway that’s fun to walk through
Visual comfort – you never know who you’ll be standing next to; last market I was standing next to the editor of Architectural Digest
Smaller/secret/hard-to-find showrooms: These are all fabulous and really easy to work with.
Ro Sham Beau
Fabricut – great window treatment program and showing their furniture frames
Antique / vintage shops
BoBo Interesting Objects—and there’s a great vintage shop next door
HPMKT Antique Hall in Market Square – If this is your first market, set aside an hour to walk through this hall. Most of it won’t be for you; it’s a mix of eras and styles. But you will find select dealers that set up in the same spots, and next market you will know exactly where to find them.
Use the app.
Accessible on your smartphone, tablet or desktop (and sync-able among them all), the MyMarket app makes navigating High Point Market infinitely easier: follow blue-dot navigation to showrooms, browse educational and social events and create a personal market schedule. Here’s a quick preview of the High Point app. “I’m a huge fan of the app—it’s how I get through my market days,” Goldberg says. “I star all the showrooms and events I’m interested in and follow those stars, then unstar them as I see them so my list gets shorter and shorter as I go.”
Make time for educational events.
Preview them on the High Point app or website and put key ones on your calendar. “Dig deeper into what you want to see so you’re not overwhelmed when you get there” Goldberg says.
Hit up the best food and parties.
It’s smart to stash nuts, apples or other snacks in your bag to stay fueled, but savvy showgoers know where to grab great food (and drinks!) along the way. Some favorites from our insiders:
“Universal has great breakfast, so you could schedule your appointment with them early one morning,” Goldberg suggests.
Plenty of showrooms offer finger foods, but for a true sit-down break, head to Theodore Alexander, Jonathan Charles, Fabricut, Lee or Abbyson, which offer complimentary lunch after your appointment.
Stop by Kravet for fun cocktails, the Bar at Four Hands for Bloody Marys, or Abbyson for a full bar and festive drinks.
Make your dinner reservations NOW at the Proximity hotel, for a gorgeous experience and a place to see friends and vendors.
Wear and pack these essentials:
Comfy shoes—more than one pair: “Everyone always says comfy shoes, but we really mean it,” Goldberg says. “HPMKT includes so many HUGE buildings that are very spread out. You are walking miles and miles a day. You want a different pair of comfy shoes each day of market. Rotate your shoes each day.”
Fun (but comfortable) clothes that show off your style and who you are: “This is kind of fashion week for our industry,” Goldberg says.
A cross-body bag: Stick to only the essentials inside.
A tiny umbrella and/or lightweight raincoat: Rain often sneaks up in April.
Layered clothing: The temperature can also be unpredictable, plus you’re in and out of buildings.
An battery pack: You’ll go through battery life quickly at market, so buy a Mophie—for $100 bucks it’s well worth it.
Business cards: Print at least 200 before you go and refill your stash each night in the hotel.
There’s no need to lug a water bottle, since every showroom offers water.
Don’t get weighed down.
Vendors hand out free tote bags, so grab one of those for collecting key items. Only take business cards from vendors, not clunky brochures you’ll need to lug around. “I personally do not bring a roller suitcase, instead, I have vendors mail me everything and just make sure I collect all their business cards,” Goldberg says.
Streamline your photo-taking approach:
In showrooms, take one picture of an item you want to remember. Then, zoom in and take a photo of the label, SKU and other information. You don’t need to note which showroom you’re in because the product tag will have the vendor info.
If you have a team of people with you, create shared albums by the project that you’re sourcing for. As you snap photos, move both the product and tag photos to that shared album.
When you get home each night, organize your photos. Go through project albums and add new items to those storyboards, or for items that aren’t for specific projects, create a new storyboard called “HIGHPOINT MARKET 2019” so you can easily refer back to products.
“Make sure to keep up with organizing photos every day because if you get behind, it will not be a smooth process,” Goldberg notes.
Follow along on social. Before the show or during, this is a great way to be sure you catch the latest updates, news and buzz:
Facebook – www.facebook.com/hpmkt
Instagram – @highpointmarket
Twitter – @HPMarketNews
Official Hashtag – #HPMKT – Use this while you’re at market to see what other designers are excited about and discovering.
Have fun, and if you’re looking for more pre-show tips, check out The Rookie’s Guide to High Point Market.