During the tour, get down to the nitty-gritty, which should include a discussion of pricing. “Some showrooms offer to-the-trade and stocking dealer pricing, which are different prices,” said Lisa Mende, principal and founder of Lisa Mende Design and Style Spotter Alumnus. “Most new designers buy through to-the-trade pricing because stocking dealer pricing means a much higher opening order, as well as an agreement to stock a certain number of pieces on a retail floor.”
“Inquire about the minimum opening order amount, as well as the minimum re-order amount,” notes Mende. “If a company's opening order is $100,000 with a guarantee to purchase that amount each year, they will most likely prefer to work with furniture stores.”
Be cognizant of other factors that affect pricing. “Shipping costs can greatly affect the bottom line of an item,” said Mende. “A table that ships from California to North Carolina can add as much as 15 percent to your cost, which equates to an additional 30 percent at retail.”
You’ll also want to be sure to ask what type of shipping your potential supplier will do. “Find out if they ship to receivers only or if they’ll drop-ship to residential clients,” said Gregg.
It’s also helpful to ask about product and service details. “Confirm their typical lead time,” said Michelle Jennings Wiebe, president of Studio M Interior Design and Style Spotter “Emeritus”. “Ask if you can check stock status online, and clarify how you can receive catalogs, fabrics and finish samples.”
But don’t get so wrapped up in discussions that you leave without testing the merchandise. “If it’s upholstered furniture, definitely perform some sitting tests!” said Wiebe. Wear encourages visitors to take a seat as well. “One of the things I find funniest is watching someone walk through the showroom and not sit in anything.”
Once you’ve looked at the big picture (What do I want from this exhibitor?) and discussed the little details (How many finishes are in your line?), consider yourself accomplished and take some time to celebrate this new partnership. From planning your appointments to closing your deals, remember, even though the world’s biggest home fashion show can be awe-inspiring, there is no need to be intimidated. People enjoy Market because it’s fun. “This is such an amazing industry and High Point is such a great Market,” said Wear. “The people are warm and there is a real ambiance to this furniture capital!”