HIGH POINT – In spite of inventory issues and an overall drop in consumer demand, vendors at the High Point Market expressed some optimism about the second half of the year based on turnout at the recent spring market.
“Market has been a nice surprise,” said Mary Wilson, director of merchandise for Cyan Design. She said that the company had more customers place orders at market. “We’re just pleased.”
She acknowledged that consumers are readjusting their disposable income and spending it on other things besides their homes — like travel, for instance. The company’s designer and hospitality businesses are strong, she said, but the retail side is soft and will take a while to come back, once inflation slows down.
Mark Abrams is the owner of Port68. He noticed that retail sales usually drop before tax time. Many retailers are feeling over-invented this time. They only buy what they actually need to stock their floors, and they don’t keep any inventory because they trust vendors to deliver just-in time. Otherwise, “it’s a lot of money for retailers to sit on,” Abrams said. “People are being smart — trying to be as efficient as possible, but also changing or refreshing their stores and adding to their assortments all the time to react to the marketplace.”
Barbara Einstein, along with Ted Einstein and Charlie Shaw of Dovetail, agrees that retailers have not bought as much as they did at market last year. “We think of it as a healthier business because last year people were almost hoarding and had too many cancellations. Now they know that they can refill. Dovetail has the stock.”
Overall, the market was “nothing but positive,” she said.
Matt Sorensen is the senior vice president for sales at Classic Home. He says that there were more designers present on the market. “We’re able to service a multitude of customers. When the retail side slows down, the designer business tends to pick up,” he said.
Thomas Andonian is the vice president for furniture at the company. He said that unique products were in high demand. [Smaller] The goal of retailers is to attract customers and keep them coming back to the store. Some larger retailers have designated sections of their floors as a kind of flea market, or grab-and-go.
Andonian, in terms of trends, noted that curved pieces continue to be popular, while vertical items, such as bookcases and shelves, are valued for the storage they offer. Of the ubiquitous bouclé of past markets, Andonian said, “We don’t do a ton of it anymore.” Color is being requested more often, however. He told the story of the retail buyer who was required to have accent pieces in 20 percent of color.
Giovanni Marri of Nourison’s director of digital strategy and marketing, Giovanni Marri, says that the company has seen modest growth in this year, due to strategic and efficient order.
“We have a healthy inventory now, we aren’t overstocked,” he said. “We have been able to be flexible and have pulled orders forward. We’ve found that while our brick-and-mortar and ecommerce sales have increased, the ecommerce sales have declined. At this market, we’ve done well. People are coming in to buy.”
Harounian Rugs International introduced several new rugs in the spring. One of them was a Pakistani Oushak that sold out quickly on the market. “We have seen double the people in this market that we saw last fall,” added Diana Samuels, HRI director of operations.
Samuels explained that they’ve added rugs in larger sizes because of the increased demand for odd-sized carpets. She added that HRI offers a custom-sizing option, which is attractive to designers.
Fellow rug company Orian has brought on 12 new sales reps over the past several months to handle the company’s growing business needs. The South Carolina-based company’s rugs are all made in the U.S., and that has made a big difference to prospective buyers, according to marketing manager Julie Weaver.
“Our sales have really picked up and we are doing well on inventory,” she said. “We are looking forward to a very successful market.”
Skyline, the U.S. manufacturer that specializes in custom-made, upholstered furniture has had a successful year. However, this particular market was somewhat slow.
“We are planning for a much bigger High Point Market product launch this fall. Stay tuned,” said Meganne Wecker, company president. “We purchased a new digital printer that leaves no fabric waste. This really speaks to our company’s focus on sustainability.”
Abrams, back at Port 68 was optimistic about the business. “If you can get through COVID, you can get through anything,” he said.
—Anne Flynn Wear contributed to this article.