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  • Larry Thomas

High Point plans to enforce Monday opening

Authority wants to add excitement to market

HIGH POINT — The High Point furniture market’s new opening day — a Monday — will be a true opening day if members of the Market Authority’s board of directors have their way.

Board members on Tuesday urged exhibitors to adhere to the official fall market dates of Monday, Oct. 16, through Sunday, Oct. 22. Several showroom building owners on the board pledged to enforce the new dates on their properties.

“We are trying to bring some excitement back to opening day,” said board Chairman Paul Toms. “And at the same time, we want to keep the end of the market as important as the beginning.”

Toms, who also is chairman and CEO of manufacturer Hooker Furniture, said the longstanding practice of some showrooms welcoming buyers before the official opening puts a strain on transportation and other local services.

Subsequently, he said many of these same showrooms have been closing before the market officially ends, which inconveniences buyers.

Toms said Hooker, whose showroom is in the International Home Furnishings Center, would strictly adhere to the official opening and closing, a sentiment echoed by other board members.

“We’re going for it,” said Joanna Easter, chief operating officer of Showplace. “We need to put up a strong front on this.”

Board member John Bray, CEO of Vanguard Furniture, acknowledged that enforcement of the new schedule may be difficult, but said his company is committed to the Monday-through-Sunday format.

In recent years, the market has officially opened on a Thursday and run through the following Wednesday. Many buyers, however, have arrived on the Monday before the official opening, stretching the market to as long as 10 days.

“We’ve never had a seven-day market before. It will be a real challenge to condense it,” Bray said. “But it will be exciting to have people walking shoulder-to-shoulder again along the sidewalks.”

Added Toms, “People have told us they want the market to have a defined opening day, and we are depending on everyone working together … and not circumventing what we are trying to do.”

When it decided about a year ago to overhaul the market’s dates, the board settled on a Monday-through-Sunday format. In addition, beginning in 2007, the spring market will begin in late March and the fall event will take place in late September or early October. Next year’s market dates are March 26-April 1 and Oct. 1-7.

In other business, the board elected Bray as its new chairman. Toms, who has chaired the group for two years, will remain a board member.

The board also added another ex-officio (non-voting) member to its ranks, veteran furniture sales representative Rick Gillispie. Gillispie, who also is first vice president of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn., is the first sales rep on the board.

“This fills a glaring vacancy,” Toms said. “They are the closest link we have to our retail customers.”

Gillispie is the third ex-officio member added to the board this year. Three voting members — two retailers and one independent showroom owner — also have been added. The board now has 12 voting and five non-voting members.

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