What is High Point Market (HPMKT), you ask?
Every Fall and Spring (twice a year), the furniture capital of the United States or even the WORLD, High Point, North Carolina comes alive showroom after showroom. Exhibiting meticulous designs of new furniture and educational/networking opportunities, this is where interior designers go to gain access to resources to help move our business forward.
High Point Market is the largest furniture industry trade show in the world. It’s the ultimate twice-yearly destination for the industry—a chance to visit our favorite vendors, explore new sources, grab vintage finds, and get some industry-specific education.
Now, sometimes embarking on a new and big trip like this can be overwhelming and scary because you don’t know how to navigate such a big place. What if you are shy or an introvert, and really get social anxiety when around a lot of other people? Don’t fret my pet, I am here to help you.
We’ve been attending High Point Market for years…and we’ve learned a few tricks along the way.
How do we make the most of our time? Here are our five best tips:
1. Book your hotel and flights as early as 6-8 months in advance and book a hotel that has a free shuttle.
Book early and go early!
All the good hotels and AirBnB’s book up really early. I don’t know if other designers are highly organized or what, but High Point brings in 75,000 twice per year in a matter of 3-5 days. So, you can imagine hotels get booked. But their complimentary shuttle system is highly organized and free. What is neat though, is to use their concierge to help you book flights and hotel-ALL FREE. You don’t even need to take time out of your day to even plan the trip because they take care of it for you. It’s like having a free travel agent at your finger tips. Use them! Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org with your departing airport, days you want to go and they will even set up the shuttle for you too. However, I would recommend double checking the arrival time to land as close as possible to the shuttle departures because they do leave every 2 hours from Charlotte and Raleigh airport. Greensboro is possible more frequent but you’ll want to double check. From Charlotte and Raleigh, its a 1.5 hour bus ride to your hotel.
Additionally, try to go the where your first day starts on Friday or Saturday-because the showroom staff and sales teams are energetic, excited and there’s food and booze flowing everywhere. By day 4, people are TIRED and just want ot go home, and then you’ll notice that the sales teams are usually sitting down by the morning of day 4 and don’t want to talk to anyone, lol! I also did notice that the last few days of market, there is less food. So if you are a hungry hippo like I am, go the first few days to feel that exciting energy!
Additionally, you can get around using the free shuttles everywhere-seriously, this HPMKT is so synchronized organized it makes a professional organizer look bad.
2. Bring the following ESSENTIALS with you. You’ll thank me later!
- Print HPKT specific business cards with the following information on it to make it easier for the vendors to open an account for you:
- Mailing Address
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Resale # and EIN
- Dual-Charge portable phone charger. You’re phone is going to die so fast from taking a thousand photos. Be sure to get one that is 10,000maH or higher, like this one.
- A small light pouch for business cards that you gather from vendors
- Foot chafing cream. Because, your feet will thank me later.
- A light backpack or canvas tote. Don’t bring luggage or any heavy bag. Leave the designer bag at home and use something lightweight to carry around all day. However the last two times I went, Loloi gives out free tote bags like below.
- Vionics Shoes. Buy these supportive, yet fashionable and high quality shoes. Break them in a month in advance. I need support but also want to find shoes that are supportive. These are literally the only shoes I wear from here on out, everyday.
3. Use the mobile app to map out all the vendors you want to see with focusing on the upholstery vendors the most here at HPMKT.
Honestly, use and favorite all the vendors in the mobile app. If you want to make appointments at showrooms with your sales rep from that vendor, that will be helpful to them to keep their day organized. However, I didn’t need to book any appointments and still was able to view all the showrooms I wanted (I do believe you need an appointment for Lee Industries, though). I typically like to start off with the IHFC building first then work my way throughout other single-stand alone buildings. Then for the last day, end my day in the Showroom building as its closest to the shuttles. This way, if you need to catch a flight on your last day, coat/luggage check-in is close as well as the shuttles so you aren’t stressed about getting to the airport.
Appointments are hard to keep if you fill up your whole day with appointments. Inevitably one will run over and put off your whole day. So I would just book 1 or 2 per day, max. I really like free-flowing and going around as I please so I can take my time. These are the few days that I don’t have commitments to my work, clients or family, so this is like a Disneyland vacation for me.
Only make appointments with lines that are imperative to have a knowledgeable rep walk you through. We find this to be true of our larger upholstery lines + lighting. Make them in the mornings only so you will be on time then have the day free afterwards to explore on your own!
There are other furnishing markets in other cities such as Dallas, Vegas and Atlanta throughout the year. These are amazing smaller markets that still have plenty of well known trade vendors. However, a lot of the larger upholstery showrooms are only really at HPMKT because that’s where they are made, in North Carolina so its easier for them to set up a showroom locally to them (with hiring resources as well). My objective is to not only make a connection with my vendors and sales reps, but its to feel, sit and touch the furniture I am purchasing for my clients. The showroom staff will walk you through their line so you can provide your clients with the best sofa they ever had. I really want to sit and educate myself on the sofas, sectionals and accent chairs and see the fabric swatches or learn how to obtain the swatches so I can feel really confident in what to select for each client.
4. Make reservations for dinner in advance and plan out lunches.
The amount I spent on lunches during my 3 days at HPMKT: $0!
Listen up, buttercup: You DO NOT NEED TO BUY LUNCH at High Point Market! I repeat, you do NOT HAVE TO BUY LUNCH. Nearly every building has a larger, well-known vendor such as Universal, Bernharndt, Visual Comfort, Jaipur, Surya. All of the above offer free, hot, catered lunch. And when I tell you it’s good, its pretty darn good for an ex-chef like me. I ate fried chicken with mashed potatoes and green beans with a side salad, and meatloaf, pasta salad… listen honey, you’ll burn off this food just by walking so don’t worry about it.
Depending on where you are staying, I do recommend booking dinner reservations in advance as well because the good restaurants get really busy. If you happen to be staying in Greensboro, here are my favorite restaurants I highly recommend making a reservation for!
Art of the Taco (no reservations needed, casual dining)
5. Pace yourself
Be sure to land yourself at those large vendors I chatted about that serve lunch during lunchtime (around noon or 12:30pm).
- Grab water every time you see a water bottle-these are everywhere!
- Do not overload your day, I ended my day at 5:30 everyday to give myself time to unwind and put my feet up before dinner.
- You are going to be really visually and physically overstimulated, so even if you want to relax at your hotel room and read a good book or binge watch on TV after dinner, then I highly recommend doing this. You deserve it after a long day on your feet!
High Point Market can be so exciting and overwhelming at the same time, but with planning all of the above, you will be fine and have a ton of fun and bring back so much knowledge for your clients!
HAPPY HIGH POINTING!