For going casual at the High Point Market
Laurie Rudd -- Casual Living, 4/1/2013 2:00:00 AM
When other industry Trade shows are consolidating exhibitors onto destination floors, the High Point Market continues to draw buyers and exhibitors to a venue and a locale that is happily eclectic.
This month, due to the growing attention from traditional furnishings retailers and designers, the casual and outdoor products category will once again be engaged in greater numbers and expanded exhibit spaces throughout many of the 180 buildings that make up the High Point Market. For those focusing on casual furnishings and accessories, a successful experience requires a plan or, at the very least, a few helpful tips for going casual in High Point.
TIP 1 : TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT THE MARKET HAS TO OFFER FOR FREE
No one recognizes the unique configuration and challenges of the High Point Market more than the organizers, and tremendous focus has been placed on making the experience as smooth and as successful as possible for all.
"We provide an entire section of our website dedicated to a first-time buyer with videos that give great insider tips, a checklist of how to p lan for the trip and information on the orientation seminars," said Cheminne Taylor-Smith, vice president of marketing for the High Point Market Authority. The site also includes access to printed and online preview guides and search opportunities for the market's more than 350 categories. The "My Market" planner enables visitors to sort through desired exhibitors by building and trolley stops to create a timesaving schedule. To top it off , all can be downloaded to and accessed from a smartphone. Taking advantage of all the market offers is a tip no one visiting High Point should ignore.
TIP 2: CREATE A CASUAL PLAN
Once familiar with the market's planning tools, the casual products buyer needs only head to the Outdoor-Patio category within the online exhibitor listing to gather information on companies, products and locations in the casual segment. However, as the listing includes hundreds of showrooms in numerous sub-categories, creating a successful casual plan may require additional insight for timesaving consolidation.
Depending on who is asked, there are numerous locations that offer multiple casual manufacturers worth exploring.
"The High Point Market has tried to focus on having a lot of casual manufacturers in the Showplace building, creating a one-stop shop for the category," said Tami Newton, sales manager for Palm Springs Rattan (Showplace 1539).
Although Showplace does offer multiple big names in outdoor from Agio and Telescope Casual to Treasure Garden, there are equally as many grouped in the IHFC building to Market Square and everywhere in between. In the past, High Point has made attempts to consolidate the category, but it is a casual plan still in the planning. "(A single venue) is something that would have to be decided by the individual owners of buildings involved in the High Point Market," said Taylor-Smith. "But we would love to see that show-within-as how concept here."
Until then, crafting a plan for locating casual furnishings manufacturers that are a fit continues to require pre-planning and information gathering. Additional information is available through the promotional efforts of the market as well as trade publications to the casual industry. For its part, the market recognizes the popularity of the category and features casual furniture manufacturers in several of its promotional efforts to benefit buyers and exhibitors in planning.
During the months surrounding the market, numerous trade publications focus on introductions at the show including highlighting outdoor living furnishings that have been combed through to locate what's trending. Taking advantage of this research and wealth of outdoor knowledge is a valuable tip. With a show the size and scope of the High Point Market, being armed with as much information as possible prior to hitting the streets is a must.
TIP 3: KNOW YOUR MARKET BEFORE MARKET
Even with a casual shopping plan, the number of companies gathered that offer furnishings and accessories for the outdoor lifestyle buyer can be overwhelming. Further research zeroing in on what works for your business also is seen as a beneficial tip. Return visitors to High Point are a valuable source for clues on streamlining a casual shopping plan.
"I locate exhibitors that I want to see by doing research prior to heading to High Point and determine which vendors to visit by taking a hard look at what's going on in my trading area," said Joey Ray, owner of Garden City Furniture in Garden City, S.C. "It does not make a difference to me who associates with what or who sponsors an event, it is about having product that sells and results in profit for our company." Something as simple as talking to others in the industry is another tip that has helped Ray to discover prospective outdoor options that meet his criteria.
Researching vendors for a "fit" prior to heading to market also is seen as beneficial from the manufacturer prospective. "We are always targeting toward residential designers and retail showrooms that sell a life and look to build a long-term, mutually prosperous business and personal relationship," said Sebastien Manni, sales manager for Kannoa (IHFC/IH402).
For first time exhibitor Treasure Garden, relationship building and tapping into the potential of a new segment is a goal for adding the market to its show schedule. "We recognized growth in the designer and interior furnishings segments and realize this market is focused on reaching them," said Jeff B. Dorough, VP of sales and marketing, Treasure Garden (Showplace 2600). "We see it as an opportunity to make these buyers aware of the depth of our lines and our custom design programs."
TIP 4: KEEP ROOM IN YOUR PLAN FOR HIDDEN CASUAL GEMS
Tremendous growth for the outdoor category is being fueled from interior product manufacturers bringing the indoor experience "out." Exploring previously considered interior product showrooms with exterior introductions is a tip for finding hidden casual gems. They are everywhere throughout the market, hiding in plain sight.
"We have exhibited in High Point since 1978 and, in fact, the company is in its second generation of coming to this market," said Merit Wish, designer and daughter of founder Deanna Wish, Wish Designs USA (IHFC/H403). As crafters of unique outdoor lighting as well as contemporary outdoor floor coverings, Wish Designs has occupied several showrooms over the years. "We have displayed for several seasons twig furniture and area rugs from recycled scraps that were originally designed to bring the outside in," Wish said. "But with the decoration of patios, gazebos and outdoor rooms, the chandeliers are well suited for the outdoor area too."
A sometimes overlooked destination within the market that features domestically produced outdoor products is the "Made in America" Pavilion. Several casual manufacturers see this exhibit as an opportunity to enhance their show exposure. This exhibit is worth including in a casual shopping plan. "There are various promotions (by the market) targeting our customers," said Lou Rosebrock, senior VP of sales and marketing for Lloyd Flanders (Market Square 110). "One is the Made in America Pavilion at Market Suites." This pavilion first debuted in 2011 and will again feature nearly 50 exhibitors (Suites at Market Square third floor).
TIP 5: UTILIZE THE MARKET FOR A CASUAL REVIEW
For those who also shop casual products in Chicago, the spring High Point Market is a great time to review with manufacturers how items are selling since the fall introductions. Including stops to review items presented in September as well as revisit quick ship programs to fill in-season requests can be a tip worth noting.
"We do not have specific introductions for the High Point Market," Rosebrock said. "Our introductions are done in July at our casual show and that ultimately means never before seen product at the October High Point market each year." (This is a tip worth remembering for High Point's fall market.)
TIP 6: BE PREPARED TO BE IMPRESSED
For the vast majority of exhibitors, introductions within the casual segment are literally everywhere. Discovering what is trending is a tip retailers can take back to share with their customers. "Our new collections have been receiving an unbelievable response from new and current dealers," said Palm Springs Rattan's Newton. "We pride ourselves on being a one-stop shop. For April 2013, our must-see items include our Andros, Island, Bimini, Bora Bora and Coquina Key seating and dining groups."
In the Lloyd Flanders showroom, casual buyers will be educated on a new and innovative material being used in their latest collection. "We are very excited about our new Tobago Collection featuring Resysta," Rosebrock said. "Resysta is a product developed in Europe originally for the construction industry. This eco-friendly material is used to create a rich wood detail on table tops and exposed features such as legs and arms."
A new twist on a traditional item will be on display in Kannoa's showroom. "We are launching our version of the classic Adirondack chair that we believe will be a hit," Manni said.
For Deanna Wish Designs, color is its show story. "We are ‘branching out' from our traditional twig chandeliers by adding numerous color options," Wish said. "They are all 100% natural with no metal or glass and the wood is Hickory from roots to keep a very natural look."
For designers and interior retailers expanding into exteriors, Treasure Garden is featuring several options. "Our custom design shade program is well suited to designers and their customers," Dorough said. "With our Treasure Garden Design Studio, there are thousands of options for one of- a-kind shade products."
This final tip may be the most important for navigating the miles of halls and streets of buildings at High Point. Come prepared to be impressed by not only the scope, but the years of experience and innovation that is alive and well and on display for the casual category throughout a century old venue that this month rolls out so much that is new.
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- Nov 8, 2010