Fall market builds hopes for 2021

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Image depicts people in the furniture showroom

Christy O’Hara ventured to High Point, N.C., for the October market and was disappointed that some of her suppliers didn’t. So, she won’t be carrying their products, the owner of new Home Furnishings Association member Steel Roots Home Décor said.

Image shows a woman holding a dog
Christy O’Hara

Her two-year-old Chapel Hill, N.C., business offers home furnishings, lighting, rugs, design services and more.

Manufacturers that didn’t come to market shouldn’t expect consumers to visit stores, O’Hara added, noting that some canceled her appointments after she’d already arrived in High Point.

But they’ll get another chance in April, she allowed.

The market offered opportunities for HFA members

Looking ahead to a more normal High Point Market in spring 2021 may have been one theme at the October show, which saw attendance down substantially. Still, there were opportunities to be found.

While the HFA’s Resource Center wasn’t very busy, either, O’Hara said she met with two vendors there, Trekstone Financial and Guardsmen, and found them “very helpful.”

An HFA membership representative contacted her after the market to help find other resources that weren’t available at market. Regardless of market activity, the association is only a phone call or email away.

Peter Rhoades’ experience at market was similar to O’Hara’s. The owner of Hubbingtons Furniture in Barrington, N.H., hoped to see more people, but he had a good meeting with Trekstone’s Amy Llewelyn in the HFA Resource Center. Reduced attendance also let him “spend more time than normal in showrooms,” he said. His sales have been strong – “the best in 26 years in September” – so talking with suppliers was important.

Of the Resource Center, which was extensively renovated, Rhoades observed, “The layout seems good,” but it was difficult for him to get an impression of how well it will function when it’s busy – as hopefully it will be in April.

HFA’s Resource Center gets positive reviews

Image shows a woman with brown hair
Amy Llewelyn

For her part, Llewelyn – who owns HFA Solution Partner Trekstone – really liked the new design of the Resource Center.

“Oh, yeah,” she said. “Once it’s full of people, it’s going to be buzzing.

“I love how open it is,” she added. “It’s not so closed off and dark. It’s lighter and more professional.”

The center area, between the corridors, was attractively furnished, creating a space for casual conversations, she said. And the vendor booths were, well, more than booths. “I felt like I was walking into my own Trekstone office,” Llewelyn said.

Despite the sparse attendance, “We definitely met a few good prospects,” she said

Open, inviting, conducive for business

“When we took on the task of redesigning our Resource Center, we listened to retailers and our vendor partners who use the space,” HFA CEO Mark Schumacher said. “They wanted it to be more open, yet provide privacy when needed, so it could be the perfect place to meet and talk business. While the October market was light in attendance, the new design proved to be inviting, spacious, comfortable and conducive to conducting business. Just what we hoped for.”

Image shows a man wearing a sportcoat
Eric Sinclair

For some HFA members, the market turned out to be just what they needed. For example, when Eric Sinclair visited a showroom, he drew everyone’s attention.

“I felt like Berkshire Hathaway,” the owner of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Montgomery’s said. Sales staff and managers “weren’t disappointed even if all I bought was an ottoman.”

Sinclair bought much more than that. Montgomery’s recently purchased Malchows in Aberdeen, S.D., and allowed its former owners to sell off the inventory. It plans to open a Montgomery’s in a renovated space in Aberdeen in the second quarter of 2021, with all-new inventory. With plenty of lead time, Sinclair was ready to build “strategic partnerships” and place orders, confident that product would arrive when needed.

A lightly attended market was helpful.

[Montgomery’s keeps growing for 132 years]

Looking forward to the 2021 spring market

“We got a lot done, we really did,” Sinclair said. “We got through the showrooms very quickly and efficiently.”

He briefly visited the HFA’s Resource Center, where he normally spends a half-day during markets, and looks forward to returning when it’s fully utilized.

Austin Meredith of HFA member Moe’s Deals in Seymour, Tenn., also took a quick look at the Resource Center but anticipates doing more business there in April.

On the whole, however, “We had a super successful market,” he said. “We were there to source some outdoor furniture, and we did.”

[HFA’s Resource Center opens for business]

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