So, why is the furniture industry based in some small town in North Carolina that is not really very notable otherwise? Wouldn’t it make more sense for the industry to be based in a major city? Today, I’m diving into a bit of history.
High Point was so named because it was the highest point on the North Carolina Railroad when it was built in 1859. And in 1889, the first piece of furniture to be produced here was a desk. By 1900, dozens of furniture companies had established themselves here because of good transit links and plentiful lumber.
The industry really took off when the first High Point Furniture Market occurred in 1909, bringing in buyers and industry professionals from all over the world. Although at the time High Point was jockeying with Grand Rapids, Michigan, for supremacy as the country’s main furniture epicenter, the construction of major exhibition centers in High Point in 1920 cemented the town’s place as not just one of the places to come see and buy furniture, but the preeminent place in the country.
World War I and World War II actually forced the industry to improve its output and quality, and in the post-WWII housing boom, the industry recovered with a vengeance. By 1955, 60% of all the furniture made in the U.S. was being made within 125 miles of High Point.
And the industry has only grown since. The High Point Market is still the main place to see the latest home furnishing trends, drawing buyers and professionals from all over the world. The industry changes, and has gotten more globalized, but this area remains the home of the industry.
Cheers to the industry that refuses to be moved overseas, and cheers to American ingenuity!
Blass Hollingsworth is a sales and design consultant at HNN 125 home furnishings retailer Furnitureland South.