Former Stoney Creek Furniture Dennis Novosel, left and current president Jim Fee.
Former Stoney Creek Furniture Dennis Novosel, left and current president Jim Fee.

Friends hold goodbye bash for Dennis Novosel at High Point Market

Dennis Novosel’s first High Point furniture market? That’s easy. It was 1971. The former owner of Home Furnishings Association member Stoney Creek Furniture has been a loyal visitor ever since. Even after turning over day-to-day operations of the store to his longtime business partner Jim Fee three years ago, Novosel still showed up in High Point to shop, socialize and host his long-running BBQ cookout for industry friends.

But all good (and tasty) things must end. This was Novosel’s last market. Instead of Novosel hosting a feast for his friends, Fee threw a goodbye bash for his good friend and mentor at his rented home in Emerywood, a quiet, leafy neighborhood a few blocks away from the chaos of market.

Not that it wasn’t loud inside. Longtime friends showed up to share stories and laughs and say goodbye to an industry icon.

“It’s been a blast,” said Novosel, “but it’s time.”

Enjoying retirement

Apart from strategic planning, Novosel is no longer involved in the operation of Stoney Creek. These days, he spends most of his free time outdoors. As an avid snowmobile rider, the sport consumes Novosel’s weekends from January to April. Novosel is good friends with Doug Wolf, who retired in 2017 from Wolf Furniture, another HFA member. The two go snowmobiling at least once a month during winter.

And last year, Novosel built a lakefront house, so boating and fishing mean his springs and summers are full, too. “I just don’t have the time anymore (for market),” he said.

Novosel said he plans to remain active in the industry. He’s still the owner and chairman of Artage International, a Canadian-based maker of occasional tables he acquired about five years ago. But High Point Market? That’s now a part of his past.

Association leader

Novosel is a past president of the Home Furnishings Association, having served in 2004 when the association was known at the National Home Furnishings Association. Novosel remembers joining the association’s board years ago and how everyone embraced a small retailer from Canada.

“Everybody who was anybody – all the big guys – believe it or not, they all took a shine to me,” he says. Those relationships with the association opened doors for Novosel and Stoney Creek that helped his business grow. Novosel likes to tell the story of walking into a manufacturer’s showroom one fall in High Point and getting a cold shoulder from the sales staff. He started to leave when he ran into the late Art Van Elslander of Art Van Furniture and a fellow NHFA member.

“Art walks up to me, gives me a big hug and says so everyone can hear, ‘Dennis! How are you?’ Then he proceeds to tell the salespeople for this line, ‘Do you know this guy has the biggest store in Canada?’ Everyone ran after me and couldn’t stop apologizing. They were bending over backwards asking me what they could do for me. That’s the kind of power the association has. The power to connect people who can help you with your business.”

Novosel was asked if he would miss High Point Market. “The market? No, not really. The people? Absolutely.”

 

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