Tips & Insights

Plan Like a Pro

Prepare to make the most of Market Week

Market veterans tell us they usually come to High Point to strengthen relationships with current vendors, find new suppliers, scope out the trends that will sell in their stores, and network. Add it all up, and you have a lot to accomplish in just a few days. Here are a few long-timers’ tips for creating your optimal Market experience.

Set Objectives

Fred Hill, Senior Vice President of Operations at Grand Home Furnishings, with 20 stores in VA, TN, and WV, has attended Market for 36 years. He concentrates on different priorities for Spring and Fall Markets. “During Fall Market we’re firmly focused on next year’s lineup; it’s all about the product. In the Spring we are more relationship-oriented; visiting potential new vendors and catching up with current vendors to see what’s new.”

Plan Ahead

Not surprisingly, experienced buyers schedule their days similarly, and they all recommend making appointments a few months in advance to assure ample time with top vendors. “Our overall strategy is solid. We see the most important vendors representing the highest sales the first few days. Then, we explore new products, usually building by building, later in the week,” said Kevin Irving, Merchandise Manager for Cardi’s, which operates six big box stores and 13 bedding locations in MA and RI.

“We enjoy sharing our vendor experiences with other retailers with whom we’ve built strong relationships over the years.”
– Fred Hill, Senior Vice President of Operations, Grand Home Furnishings

Network With Colleagues and Peers

Opportunities to compare vendors can occur at buyers group meetings, dinners hosted by manufacturers or sales reps, or through chance encounters in showrooms. “We catch up with the folks from Wolf Furniture and Big Sandy’s at every Market,” says Hill. “We compare notes and discuss which vendors are easy to deal with, who stands behind their products, and who truly listens to our customer feedback. That’s essential information when you are making a decision to take on a new line.”

Seek the WOW!

“We explore the new ideas later in the week,” said Steve Tronstein, CEO of Gardner-White Furniture, who has traveled from Michigan to High Point for 40 years to buy for his nine stores. “By then we’ve heard some of the buzz on the new products. We shop diverse resources and keep our eyes and our minds open as we explore the showrooms. You never know where that next million-dollar seller is coming from and we are never disappointed.”

Celebrate (or Establish) Traditions

Everyone has treasured High Point traditions. They may be reuniting with the family whose home they’ve rented for decades or attending a particular manufacturer’s party. Dianne Ray, President of Garden City Furniture near Myrtle Beach, SC, went to Market with her parents for the first time in 1947 as a baby. For the past 40 years, she’s traveled to High Point and continues to do so to stay in touch with vendors, suppliers, and contacts she made through her membership in the HFA, WithIT and the Furniture First Buying Group. Plus, she never misses Jerry Epperson’s “State of the Industry” presentation on Sunday morning.

Establish clear objectives, start planning early, make the most of your networking opportunities, explore the new and unusual, and build your plan around a few essential traditions. These are the five things our most experienced guests suggest to make the most of Market Week.