Tips & Insights

Top 5 Reasons To Make Market a Must

Two retail pros discuss the bottom line benefits of Market

By Robert Bell, Editor, RetailerNOW

Hilmar Starcke has been president of Starcke Furniture since 1982. Early in his career, he made the trip to High Point Market every spring and fall, without fail. Then, he took a few years off, and chose to stay home while the rest of his fellow retailers converged on the most famous furniture city in the world.

“Maybe I got too lazy, maybe with the Internet and email I thought I didn’t need to attend,” says Starcke, a third-generation owner of Starcke’s Furniture, which has furnished the homes of central Texas for 104 years. “I guess I just thought I could talk to my rep. And since I had the catalogs right in front of me, I didn’t see any reason to take time away from the store and go.”

“The only way you’re going to get that in-person meeting or find that unique piece of furniture is by coming to High Point.”
- Hilmar Starcke, President, Starcke Furniture

Starcke finally returned last year after a business friend convinced him he was making a mistake. After just a few hours at Market he realized just how big – and costly – a mistake he made staying away all those years.

#1 - To know what a piece is really like, you have to see it in person

On his first visit to a showroom, Starcke bought several Lay-Z-Boy chairs he would not have given a second look thumbing through a catalog back home. “The textures, the colors, you really had to see them in person,” he recalls.

#2 - Better product choices build a better bottom line

Starcke also added Broyhill’s Estes Park bedroom suite to his line, another product the vendor’s catalog had not convinced him to buy. Like the chairs, the bedroom suite has been a nice seller. And like the chairs, the bedroom suite would never have reached the floor of Starcke Furniture had Hilman not made the trip to High Point.

#3 - You can’t build relationships from a distance

Make no mistake: Market is about showroom after showroom packed with the latest furniture and accessories. But beyond the chairs, beds, sofas, and tables, Starcke was reminded just how important High Point is to building relationships.

“This is still a people business,” he says. “It’s nice to get a handshake and meet people face to face. The only way you’re going to get that in-person meeting or find that unique piece of furniture is by coming to High Point. I guess by staying away so long I learned that the hard way.”

“I hear people say they can’t afford to go. Nonsense, you can’t afford not to go.”
- Eric Sinclair, President, Montgomery’s Furniture

Eric Sinclair, president of Montgomery’s Furniture, a three-store chain in eastern South Dakota, feels fortunate that he never had to learn that lesson. A regular attendee, who hasn’t missed a Market – Spring or Fall – in 15 years, he notes, “You can find a million reasons not to come to High Point, but if you’re serious about being in the industry, it’s the place to be. I hear people say they can’t afford to go. Nonsense, you can’t afford not to go.”

#4 - You see the trends first in High Point

Sinclair likes to tell the story of how, long before the rustic look of Indian furniture became popular in his market, Montgomery’s was ahead of the curve thanks to a trip to High Point. “There were literally a dozen or more importers from India that we talked to and walked the showroom floors with. By the time the trend really took off in our market we were already in place.”

#5 - One-stop shopping

Sinclair knows there are other shows he can attend, and he will visit them on occasion. Only High Point, however, remains a permanent date on his calendar. “When you think of the breadth of line, the showrooms and number of manufacturers, it’s by far the best place for you to be. Where else can you get everything and everyone all in one place, waiting for your business?”

Now that he has been back to High Point, Starcke agrees, “If I’m going to pick just one market to go to, it’s going to be High Point.”

Robert Bell is the editor of RetailerNOW, the magazine for the North American Home Furnishings Association. NAHFA is the nation’s largest organization devoted to the needs and interests of home furnishings retailers. For more information go to nahfa.org or drop by NAHFA's Retailer Resource Center in Plaza Suites at High Point Market.