Tips & Insights

Designer’s Guide to Market, Part 1

Setting your schedule and finding the right showrooms

High Point Market is a spectacular feast for the eyes and a trade show experience like no other. But it’s also a business venture, fueled by personal time and resources. Before you make your travel arrangements, do a little strategic planning to ensure your trip generates a return on investment.

Planning your trip

High Point Market lasts five days, and although most buyers don’t stay the entire time, you do need to plan enough time to be productive.

“If I had to pick a minimum number of days, I would say three, but preferably four,” said Lisa Mende, principal and founder of Lisa Mende Design. “High Point can be daunting if one tries to pack too many things into a short period of time. It is better to have several well-planned days and work the plan.”

"I do recommend making showroom appointments grouped by areas."
- Michelle Jennings Wiebe, Studio M Interior Design, Style Spotter Emeritus

Michelle Jennings Wiebe, president of Studio M Interior Design, agrees. “Three days should give you enough time to visit showrooms and attend social events.” But for her own business, she stays the entire show. “I attend for seven days each Market now, and it is still not enough time to see everything! Most attendees can’t devote a full week, but whatever your number of days, I do recommend making showroom appointments grouped by areas. Otherwise, you will spend your entire time zig-zagging between showrooms!”

"On average, a new designer will see approximately four to six showrooms a day if their Market trip is well planned."
- Lisa Mende, principal and founder of Lisa Mende Design

Seasoned Market-goers like Lisa Ferguson, principal designer and founder of Lisa Ferguson Design and StrengthsMentor, have their schedule down pat. “I plan appointments every hour with a two-hour window open every day for spontaneous conversations and to rejuvenate.” She makes the best use of her time by selecting social and educational events that are in the same building as her showroom appointments.

For a first-time visitor, appointments should be spaced further apart. “On average, a new designer will see approximately four to six showrooms a day if their Market trip is well planned,” said Mende.

Finding exhibitors

Wading through thousands of exhibitor listings to determine which ones work with designers can be a Herculean task. But there’s a better way to locate those helpful showrooms, and it’s surprisingly simple.

“Ask your designer peers on social media to private message you their proven favorites,” said Ferguson. “Or ask your favorite designer-friendly reps what other lines they show at High Point Market.”

Jennings Wiebe relies on peer recommendations and also uses some specific Market resources. “Check out the Preview Guides that Market sends out,” said Jennings Wiebe. “You can thumb through these books, and get a good idea from the ads of some designer-friendly vendors to check out. High Point Market also has a great Twitter Chat before Market, so tune into this, as all of these vendors will be designer friendly!”

The High Point Market website offers another easy way to find exhibitors who want to work with designers. In the Find Exhibitors section, simply search by “Designer Friendly” under “Options” to see only those showrooms that identified themselves as designer friendly.

Scheduling appointments

“You may not need an appointment for exhibitors in Interhall or Suites at Market Square, but for larger showrooms, an appointment is essential,” said Ferguson. She notes that many reps carry multiple lines, so you want to ensure they’ll be there to assist you.

Mende highly recommends appointments as well. “If an appointment is booked, there is a guaranteed time available to view the preferred lines,” said Mende. It’s a practice that benefits both the company and the designer. “Showrooms prefer appointments with first-time buyers for many reasons. It allows the company to explain their line, share new introductions, detail buying requirements and get to know the designer's business.”

“To ensure an appointment time that works for your schedule, call at least a month before Market.”
- Comer Wear, Marketing Director, Century Furniture

“If you don’t know your sales representative already, call the corporate office and ask for their contact information” said Comer Wear, marketing director for Century Furniture. “Each sales representative's schedule is different, but to ensure an appointment time that works for your schedule, call at least a month before Market.”

“Smaller showrooms may not even have sales representatives, but may have a specific person in house who works with interior designers,” said Carol Gregg, owner of Red Egg, a home accent furniture company that works extensively with designers. “We usually get appointment requests a month prior to Market. Registered buyers have received their Preview Guides and they are working on their Market strategy at that time.”

With some advance research and planning, your time in High Point can be a smooth and efficient experience. Take the time to set a course for achievement and get the most out of your High Point Market investment — and to save your plan for easy access anytime, anywhere, be sure to use the MyMarket planning tool. When you arrive at Market knowing where you’re going and when you want to be there, you’re well on your way to success.