Sales and appointments were strong at Uttermost during the Sept. 14-15 Premarket in High Point.
HIGH POINT — In a year of firsts, the recent edition of High Point Premarket marked another. For the first time in the semiannual buying event’s run, a heavy representation of accent and accessory resources showed to go along with its usual mix of furniture vendors.
Those suppliers — showcasing area rugs, wall art, decorative accessories, soft goods, lighting and more — found the show to their liking. Many reported strong order writing and more time with retail customers, both new and longstanding.
“We’ve had fairly good traffic. I did not expect anything,” said Mark Abrams, owner and designer of decorative accessory, wall art, lighting and accent furniture manufacturer Port 68. “The most wonderful and exciting thing was the fact that it felt like something was happening.”
Jason Phillips, vice president of accent furniture, wall décor and decorative accessory maker Phillips Collection, said visits to the company’s International Home Furnishings Center showroom and Finch Avenue warehouse were plentiful and business was good.
“We had some wonderful appointments — a surprising amount — and a lot of walk-ins,” he said. “I stayed glued to the showroom because all of our appointments were coming in. It’s been surprisingly beneficial for us. I want all of my friendly competitors to be open and showing.”
“I’ve been pleased with the appointments that came. We’ve done a lot of writing,” said Steve Roan, managing director for rug and soft goods manufacturer Rizzy Home.
Austin Craley, vice president of sales for rug, soft goods and wall art supplier Loloi, said the company’s appointment book was strong and sales were flowing. He said he had no preconceived notions heading into the event.
“This was my first Premarket, and I’ve been coming to High Point since the 1980s,” Craley said. “It was interesting to see it.”
Many accent suppliers noted that the Premarket was notable for the presence of major customers. While those majors had case goods and upholstery on their minds, they also made it a point to shop for the finishing touches.
“It’s been good. We had some good drop-ins come in and wrote some good orders, and we had some majors who wanted to come in while the crowds were home,” said Stephen Becker, director of sales for mirror and wall art, decorative accessory and accent furniture supplier Howard Elliott.
Added Scott Doyle, national sales manager for accent furniture, decorative accessory, wall art and lighting manufacturer Uttermost, “I would rate it as good. It exceeded our expectations. Our reps wrote some really good orders, and we have a lot of follow-ups to do.”
So what were those retailers saying when they came to the showrooms?
“The customers that are coming in are optimistic,” said Jeff Gonzalez, director of furniture store sales for rug and soft goods manufacturer Nourison. “Business has picked up steadily, and now they want to see some new things and what’s in stock to ship now.”
Stephanie Pereira, national sales director for lighting, decorative accessory and accent furniture maker Sagebrook Home, said anything with a family tilt drew attention from customers. “There’s a lot of home sentiment right now, and family is important,” she said.
For many in the home accents and décor space, the lead-in to High Point Market has been used for setting up the showroom. Many did that in the days preceding Premarket, but they were also open for sales.
“The primary goal was to come in and prepare for a month from now. If we placed any business, that was just a bonus,” said Derrick Ricketts, national sales manager for soft goods maker Ann Gish.
Added Bob Ulrich, vice president of sales for lighting, accent furniture and decorative accessories maker Currey & Co., “We’ve always been here setting up, but this was the first outpouring of customers asking if we would be open. We have this asset, so let’s take advantage of it. I had some key accounts that came through.”
With one Premarket under their belts, many in the home accents universe see Premarket as a viable option moving forward, particularly with so much uncertainty due to COVID-19.
“As long as customers are showing intent, it’s something we should participate in,” said Abrams.
Phillips concurred. “I think it’s a viable thing for accents companies moving forward. Those who showed have seen the light and those who didn’t are going to hear that business was being done.”