HIGH POINT — Luxury resources said that the fall High Point Market ended up beating initial expectations, thanks to stronger-than-anticipated attendance from dealers and designers alike.
Admittedly, expectations were low heading into the show, due to a strong Premarket that resulted in many larger dealers not returning to the October main event.
But most sources interviewed said they saw between 30% and 40% of the dealers and designers they normally would have seen at an October market, making it a success from their point of view.
“Attendance was down, but it was much better than we thought it would be,” said Neill Robinson, president, Theodore Alexander North America. “It is driven by the fact that the high- end business is really good right now. You have so many people with high net worth leaving the city centers and buying bigger homes. Designers need products to furnish those homes right away.”
That said, the company had strong response to inline goods available for immediate shipment.
“It was less of what is new and available in six months, but rather what is available now and what can we buy immediately,” Robinson noted. “There is an urgency and a need for product that I have never experienced in my nearly eight years at Theodore Alexander.”
The company still had strong response to its new Ralph Lauren Home collections, which are hitting Ralph Lauren retail floors this fall. Robinson noted that they are available to purchase at those stores and that inventory also is available on fabrics, frames and wood product in the line for other customers, too.
This demand is driving strong written orders not just at the high end, but almost for everyone selling wood furniture.
“Selling from scarcity is very powerful,” said Brad Cates, CEO of Sarreid. “Our hold for confirmations are a fraction of what they used to be. We are very pleased with written business from multi-store retailers and designers.
“There is definitely demand,” he added. “Some people coming to market are placing orders for things they haven’t even seen at market. They are buying from a photo.”
That trend had Sarreid and others making a concentrated effort to put images and videos of product on their website for dealers to see in case they weren’t able to make it to market.
Sarreid also made a concentrated effort to double — and in some cases triple — orders to factories around the world to make sure the items were available in stock in its Wilson, N.C., warehouse for quick shipment. As that inventory was purchased, the company has made a concerted effort to continue replenishing it in recent months.
“Stock is so important today,” Cates added, noting that the “what’s in stock” tab on its webpage has gotten by far the most clicks compared to any other tab on the site.
He said that business at market was strong with anticipated committed sales to be at or above October 2019 levels.
Andy Bray, president of Vanguard Furniture, said that traffic beat overall expectations.
“It was an odd market to be sure, but overall a successful one,” he said. “Our traffic was better than our expectations, both physically and virtually, but this market actually began with Premarket and won’t be over until the end of November.”
He noted that given the demand for product, orders have been the strongest in the 50-plus year history of the company for the past 16 weeks.
“There has been a dearth of inventory at retail, and orders have been especially robust,” Bray said, noting it is hard to separate regular orders from market orders. “This is almost exclusively for existing products. Most retailers know that products introduced at market won’t ship for five to six months. So orders are great, but it is for inline goods.”
Jonathan Charles said its business also has been up since the lifting of stay- at- home orders that kept many people at home this past spring. At market, it saw nearly 40% of the dealers and designers it typically sees, allowing many customers to see in person new collections it launched online this summer.
Those collections, Barcelona and Toulouse, will ship before the end of this year, while another brand new collection, Cambrio, will ship around March, hitting retail by late April.
“I think we came in with unknown expectations,” said Eric Graham, president, of market attendance. “In general … given the landscape of the country and the world, we are in a place where we are surprised with what transpired, and we are happy with the turnout.”
He added that the company saw strong demand for both new and inline goods.
“The designer crowd does look for things that are in stock, but they are looking for inspiration of what is new, and they are putting product lines, collections and items in their memory banks for clients and projects.”
Baker Furniture said that it had a mix of designers and retailers, some of which came in to see product they had ordered without seeing in person. This included its new 90-piece Baker Luxe collection, which was on display for the first time at Premarket and has already gone through several cuttings.
“Some were coming in to see it for the first time, and they placed more orders,” said Mike Jolly, president and chief operating officer, noting that he told salespeople to get their orders for the collection in by the end of the month to keep the supply chain running in India, Italy and Vietnam, where the collection is being sourced.
He said the company also had strong response for its Kara Mann for McGuire line, which will be available in December. Demand, he said also was strong at market for Milling Road, Thomas Pheasant and other inline Baker product.
Stickley Furniture had strong response to both inline and new goods, including its new St. Lawrence collection that features six new dining room pieces, five new bedroom pieces and 10 occasional items made with wire-brushed flat-sawn oak in a mid-tone brown finish.
Also a hit at market was its Portfolio120 collection designed by Marissa Brown, director of design at Stickley. Made with rift cut white oak and available in four finish options, it brings a fresh contemporary aesthetic to the Stickley line that resonated with dealers and designers alike.
It includes two casual dining groups, one of which features a rectangular 78-inch Yarrow dining table with Y-shaped legs and the Welland trestle table that extends to 120 inches. Dealers liked the unique shapes of the tables as well as the shapes and mixed media approach of companion case pieces including a sideboard with 32 raffia panels on its four door fronts.
Customization at Stickley and other high-end furniture resources also helped drive business in the luxury segment.
At Chaddock, for example, dealers and designers got to see a multitude of inline pieces ranging from bar cabinets and cocktail tables to a tall bookcase unit in different materials and finishes, offering a view of the versatility of the line.
The original bar cabinet, for example, had a veneer front. This market it was shown with a grass cloth front available in four colors. A cocktail ottoman was shown in a mid-tone brown Laura Giles leather, an example of the many different types of fabric and leather options available.
“We want to show our capabilities with (inline) product vs. new product,” said CEO Andrew Crone, of the many custom capabilities, which include different finishes, sheen and distressing levels, table sizes, base options, edge options and top options. “We are trying to show what we can do. We do so much full customization, and we look at the customer’s request and say ‘what can we do to make it easier.’”
The company did show one new designer collection, its 38-piece curated assortment with Mark D. Sikes. Blending neoclassical and updated traditional forms, dealers liked the mix of wood and upholstery shown in several room settings that showcased three major themes of Sikes’ approach Curate, Customize, Collect.
Product was showcased in room settings highlighting each theme allowing customers to envision and appreciate the mix of pieces along with the custom nature of the line, as previously seen throughout the Chaddock showroom leading up to the Sikes display.
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