Letter from the publisher: Markets matter. So get to work

If you didn’t have a good market — or didn’t come to market — you’re not doing enough to make your business better.

We started hearing whispers early last week. “People are writing orders. They want it now.” Then it became a consistent refrain. This was a writing market. Across all price points. It continued through the waning hours this week. We won’t know for a while if the business gains were an aberration or a long-awaited change of course for our industry. We do know for certain that if you had a bad market, it’s time for a hard look in the mirror.

Pay attention: It’s not the market’s job to get customers to your door. It’s the market’s job to get customers to High Point. Final mile is on you.

Yes, there are inefficiencies inherent in reinventing a city twice a year. But the evolution of High Point and of the market as a whole is little short of amazing. It’s easier. It’s buyer and designer friendly. It caters to the needs of exhibitors. Contrast this to recent memory when IHFC management in the 1990s to mid-2000s actively discouraged people from coming to premarket and made it abundantly clear that they didn’t really give a damn whether you liked your showroom location or not. Now the questions asked center on courting retail/designer attendance and on improving the buyer experience once they’re here. It’s consistently “How do we get better?” It’s no longer: “We’re High Point. Deal with it.”

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: You just got more done in six days in High Point than you did in the past six months. 

If you’re a retailer or designer and you didn’t come, it’s time to rethink your approach. You can’t passively wait for your salesperson to send you the latest catalog. Product introductions are now thoughtful, deliberative and often iterative with success building on success.  The PT Barnum days of garbage license du jour are thankfully behind us. What you typically see now at market is, to quote Caroline Hipple, “Built from the consumer up.” It’s no longer handed down with a wish and a prayer. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see it. And if you have a pulse, I’d challenge you to walk the discovery rows in Interhall and not be overwhelmed. It’s all here and it’s worth being a part of.

If you’re a manufacturer who keeps waiting for that just-right Goldilocks moment to actually market your product, then it’s pretty hard to feel sorry for you. It’s amazing how many times in my career I’ve been told that times are tough so we need to cut our marketing budget. And it’s even more amazing how many times I’ve been told that we need to cut back on marketing because we can’t deliver what we’ve sold. Stop waiting for Goldilocks. She’s not coming. It’s up to you. Do you think it’s a coincidence that everyone in the industry knows what GMROI means? Is there just maybe a reason that everyone has heard of Sarreid now? The examples of successful marketing are there for all to see, but the vast majority of you want to blame the economy, blame the markets, blame anyone but the person in the mirror for your slow business.

So, yes, furniture markets will always be imperfect. But we keep doing them because they work. So to the industry I’ve dedicated a career to, I say this, with love: Quit whining and do your job.

Rick Harrison is the founding publisher of Home News Now and its sister publications, Design News Now, Bedding News Now and Casual News Now.

One thought on “Letter from the publisher: Markets matter. So get to work

  1. Rick,if I may say so , another good editorial. Yes High Point market certainly has its challenges, but so does every other thing in life. On the whole every person involved in market does a damn good job! Personally I don’t understand when I run into or meet someone who says that they don’t go to market. After market iam always asked by manufactures, friends and even clients “ if I had a good market”. And ,my answer is Always yes for the simple reason it is MY JOB when iam there to make it a good market. I am fortunate to be able to spend a good amount of time at market,but that has always helped to ensure a good market. For those who don’t, they need to look at product that they somehow have been talked into that is bad, pricing and or their showroom location. As for buyers I hate to say that I have certainly seen some laziness.Rick, I have said this before but how I wish we would quit with the “retailers and DESIGNERS” . After all what do DESIGNERS do with the goods that they buy “ collect them “ NO they RETAIL them. Even though I truly feel that we are all very fortunate as hard as we all work to br in “ THE CHOSEN INDUSTRY” .

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