Musings about changes to High Point Market showrooms

HIGH POINT — With the demise of Klaussner Furniture this summer, the phones started ringing about who would get the 90,000-square-foot showroom on N. Hamilton (owned by IMC/Andmore). This movement highlights several trends in the U.S. residential furniture marketplace:

Get downtown

Back in the 1980s and ’90s, there were plenty of showrooms scattered across High Point, even out to I-85 (and beyond). Bassett had a massive destination showroom on Business 85 that is now the headquarters for Old Dominion Freight Line. Klaussner proudly did not exhibit in High Point and had their own showroom adjacent to their Asheboro factory. They even bought a nearby country club to host dinners and events.

This started to change in 2005, as High Point Market responded to the new Las Vegas Market and improved infrastructure. This helped create density and a better environment for the 80,000+ people attending the show. Bassett moved into the IHFC on the 12th floor (the 12th floor was actually added around that time). Klaussner moved into town. Many others followed.

Others began constructing destination buildings of their own. Today N. Hamilton St. looks like millionaires’ row, with New Classic, Eichholtz, Violino, Universal and Markor leading the pack. In the higher end of N. Hamilton, the Rock House Farm Brands acquired and expanded 200 Steele and Summer Classics stunningly remodeled the old Stanford/Southwood showroom.

Among other notable destinations is the Riverside showroom, in the remodeled YMCA building at Green and Wrenn (a big success for their business — and a great pizza bar!). Parker House also built a destination showroom on Elm Street. The Phillips Collection showroom in the old Radisson conference wing is a beautiful new addition to the downtown core.

Who will get the Klaussner showroom? There is lots of chatter about this and we will learn more during the market. Being in downtown High Point is a winner.

Showplace is a star

Many furniture folks will remember the Sears retail store on the current site of Showplace. Several locals bought the property once the store closed down, razed it and built Showplace as a multipurpose showroom and exhibition hall. The property was ultimately sold to “the Big Building” (and its former owners) and it quickly became known as the “Texas-Showplace,” with all-star companies American Leather, Four Hands and Steve Silver all based there (and all from Texas). Now with Classic Home, Rowe, Surya, Sunpan and Hooker as key tenants, the building is a key destination for all visitors.

IHFC shifting

When Hooker moved to Showplace and Sagebrook took the entire fifth floor of the Design Center, plenty of smaller exhibitors were displaced and are now resettled into the IHFC. InterHall is always oversubscribed and has become a huge destination for large and smaller companies alike. Also, Manwah is moving from the Plaza to the old Lane/United space on the 12th floor of Commerce. So IHFC is energizing and gaining market share.

The High Point Market is always evolving. We look forward to seeing the streets filled and the elevators full this week and feeling the excitement that is the market.

Tim Stump is president of merger and acquisition specialist Stump & Co. based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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