HIGH POINT — Developments are moving apace for the First Tuesday initiative to attract buyers to High Point showrooms the first week of each month for meetings with vendors in a controlled environment.
The High Point Market Authority, which now has endorsed the concept as an important complement to the twice-a-year show here in light of the pandemic’s impact on personal buyer/vendor interaction, confirmed the availability of its concierge service to buyers in town who need help with things such as hotel and restaurant reservations.
See updated list of participating vendors
While it’s called “First Tuesday,” the event is not limited to a single day, with most exhibitors opening the ensuing days, and HPMA CEO Tom Conley wanted the service available to attending buyers.
“We’re doing all we can to support the event, and that includes providing our concierge service to retailers and designers who want to attend,” Conley said. “HPMA will do anything it can to facilitate buyer attendance in High Point year-round.”
That could eventually include providing transportation services around the market district once COVID-19 restrictions ease.
Buyers desiring concierge service should contact Lee Allen of Travelquest at email@example.com.
In addition, HPMA reached out to key showroom landlords to make sure buildings are open and following consistent pandemic-related safety protocols.
Conley said International Market Centers, 200 Steele, 220 Elm and Centers of High Point all are supporting First Tuesday by opening their doors while following social distancing and other pandemic-related safety protocols. All those have exhibitors committed to participation in First Tuesday.
Market on Green had no exhibitors slated for the event as of this writing, but Conley said MOG also had indicated it would open should any tenants decide to join in. He added that First Tuesday would follow the same protocols buyers saw at October Market.
“We’ll be giving out wristbands while taking temperatures color-coded for each day, and we’ll provide those to all the buildings so there’s consistency and smooth access from one building to another,” Conley said. “Masks will be required under state rules.”
High Point by Design kicked off an effort earlier this fall to attract buyers year-round to high-end, designer-oriented showrooms, and its Dec. 1-5 “Cool Yule” event meshes with First Tuesday’s first edition. Splashworks President and HPxD spokesman Tom Van Dessel likes the timing and welcomes the First Tuesday concept.
“High Point by Design believes in synergy. We envision High Point as a year-round hub of design and creativity,” he said. “It happens step-by-step, showroom-by-showroom, event-by-event, including First Tuesday and HPxD’s holiday event, Cool Yule. These may be unique events and initiatives, but they all support the endgame of a more vibrant industry and community.”
In addition, the High Point Showroom Assn., a longstanding group of high-end, design-oriented resources, will host “Design Holiday Market,” a one-day event with its member showrooms on Dec. 2, during the inaugural First Tuesday.
Setting the course
First Tuesday sprang from an immediate need during the pandemic to offer safe face-to-face interaction between buyers and vendors, but the movement could have legs down the road, according to both Conley and Kevin Castellani, director of communications at Manwah, where CEO Guy Ray came up with the idea.
“There’s been a void in new-product development since travel is so restricted, and we’ll use First Tuesday as a venue to show new goods, and others I talk with will do the same,” Castellani said. “Instead of 100 new items, we might have eight. It’s easier for buyers to digest and keep refreshing their floors between markets, and it’s an un-crowded environment.”
While First Tuesday has no formal committee yet, a la Premarket, several participating companies are working to coordinate scheduling.
“We aren’t going to mandate that people approach this in any particular way — new product, days they want to open — but we do want to confirm the dates,” Castellani said. “It can be two days or three days, depending on what their buyers need.”
The inaugural First Tuesday set for Dec. 1-3, will be followed next year with Jan. 5-7 and Feb. 2-4. With Premarket set for March 15-16 and High Point Market in April, First Tuesday will take a break those months.
“The object is not to conflict with but to complement what exists already, make the best use of the showroom and to launch new product throughout the year in a safe environment,” Castellani said. “We’ll come back with a (First Tuesday) schedule after April market based on the buying needs of the industry and the level of success for First Tuesday.”
Conley reiterated his belief that efforts such as First Tuesday and HPxD don’t do anything but enhance High Point Market.
“I believe it’s an easier sell for the market if companies can get a better ROI for their showroom spaces, and if we can measure attendance, we can show the economic impact when we talk about funding,” he said. “Once we get past COVID-19, I believe it will continue to be an enhancement to markets. The whole purpose is to reduce friction for buyer/seller engagement, and this industry is dependent on face-to-face meetings.”