Cynthia Heathcoe at High Point Furniture Market
Cynthia Heathcoe, and her team, at High Point Furniture Market

Lights! Camera! Shop!

HFA member Heathcoe does more than just buy at market

Most furniture retailers bring the requisite extra pair of walking shoes, appointment book and handbag to High Point’s furniture market. HFA member Cynthia Heathcoe is not like most furniture retailers.

Heathcoe packed all the usual market accoutrements, but she also brought along a small army of video geeks to help her with social media. That’s right: In addition to buying at High Point, Heathcoe was gathering video and audio of her four-day trip that she will eventually share with those who follow her and her Lake Park, Fla., store Contemporary Living on social media.

“It’s something I’d been thinking about doing for a while,” says Heathcoe. “How can I share the whole market experience, the excitement I feel when I first see something I know my clients back home will love. I wanted them to share in that excitement and maybe learn a little, too.”

For three days at market, Heathcoe and her “family”—store manager Jack McColpin, social media manager CaraJoy Nash and adviser and Realtor Nicole Rymer—met with manufacturers and roamed showrooms looking for furniture and accessories to fill Contemporary Living’s 4,000-square-foot showroom next spring. Many of those tours and conversations were filmed by Heathcoe’s crew.

The videos will be compiled, edited and pushed out on Contemporary Living’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram platforms, giving Contemporary Living customers a behind-the-curtains look at High Point Market and the finds Heathcoe uncovered on her October trip.

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One of those videos will highlight Heathcoe’s tour of high-end contemporary furniture resource BDI and its fifth-floor showroom. The crew recorded Heathcoe walking around a corner and falling in love with one of BDI’s shelving systems the company debuted at High Point. The team recorded Heathcoe and BDI designer Jeff Bare talking about the piece while showing off the adjustable shelves and hardware. A few minutes later, Heathcoe was being recorded looking at a new adjustable lift desk, showing off the glass top finish that doesn’t scratch and the hidden pocket for the desk’s power cords.

The videos are raw with very little—if any—editing. They will never be confused with Spielberg or Scorsese, and that’s the point, says Heathcoe.

“There’s a certain rawness to them that makes them real, which they are,” says Heathcoe. “I think my followers know when they’re being pitched a commercial and that there’s a certain element of manipulation going on. That’s not what I want these videos to do. I want these videos to share the excitement I had at market and to tell the story of how this piece of furniture made its way from a High Point showroom into my showroom and hopefully into a customer’s home.”

Gary Galloway, senior product marketing manager for Netsertive, estimates that 80 percent of all internet traffic in 2019 will be video. Heathcoe sensed the medium’s power when she first began posting videos of her store and product on YouTube back in 2016.

“In terms of the senses it gives you so much more than any other medium,” she says. “You’ve got sight, sound and emotion all in one package. I’m sure there are retailers who don’t want to be in front of a camera and that’s fine. They don’t have to. All they have to do is tell a story about what they are putting in their stores.”

There’s no rush to turn around the videos for immediate consumption. Orders at High Point market usually take months to process before reaching a showroom’s floor. Heathcoe says her videos will be ready in early spring, just in time for the arrivals.

“It’s going to build a little more excitement into the new product,” she says. “I’m hoping to build a sense of anticipation but also teach people a little about the piece they’re going to see in a few months.”

Heathcoe says it was expensive bringing her staff to High Point for three days. She’s not even sure she’ll see a return on her investment. “But you have to try,” she says. “In this business you have to take risks sometimes. And if it doesn’t work, then you learn from it. So, in that sense, it does pay off if it makes you a smarter retailer in the end.”

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