By Kim Shaver
Have you ever wondered about all the steps that happen between someone having an idea for a great new furniture design and the moment you walk into a furniture store to see beautiful rooms on display?
One of the key steps between furniture ideas and reality is premarket. The most recent premarket happened September 13-14 in High Point, N.C., the furniture capital of the world. Premarket is a semi-annual event held about a month before the October and April High Point Furniture Markets. While the Fall and Spring High Point Markets draw some 85,000 attendees from around the world to shop the showrooms of close to 2000 exhibitors, premarket is a smaller, more intimate event.
The September 2010 premarket had 25 sponsoring exhibitors, and a record-breaking number of retail buyers – 225 – attended. Typically, there are around 50 to 70 attendees at premarket. In a concentrated 2-day period, premarket gives the country’s largest furniture retailers a chance to preview introductions of major furniture resources in a casual and relaxed setting. Unlike the frantic pace of market a month later, there is more dialog time. The dealers’ initial feedback at premarket on the planned market introductions is very important. In some cases, manufacturers can make small changes on the furniture before market, such as a change in hardware or a change in a leather or fabric. If a product doesn’t have enough dealer interest, then the exhibitor may not go forward with the furniture introduction for market. Conversely, dealers may be so enthusiastic about a product that exhibitors go ahead and place a group or collection on order or schedule it for production before market. This puts the furniture collection on a faster track so it can get into stores faster.
In the Hooker Furniture showroom this premarket, we were pleased to have appointments with more dealers than usual. We were also relieved when dealers told us that, after a very slow business environment this summer, sales rebounded during the recent Labor Day promotions and have stayed strong since. Dealers were enthusiastic about our new introductions like the 55-piece Trilogy collection. Trilogy is a bedroom furniture and dining room furniture collection that blends urban contemporary with pedigreed traditional styling as it marries clean forms with timeless inlay designs and a warm finish. They also responded well to our Moccato collection with a rich chocolate finish and Southwest flair, and to Ava, a new youth furniture collection for girls in European styling with a soft, feathery handpainted motif.