Less pressing tradition - staying in homes for market
David and Bitsy Wall are part of a proud community tradition during the High Point Market that dates back virtually to the trade show’s inception more than 100 years ago, but one becoming less prevalent in the modern day.
The Walls open their home each spring and fall for out-of-state guests to stay while they conduct business at the world’s largest home furnishings trade show. This fall’s market concludes Thursday afternoon.
The Walls have hosted their friends from Austin, Texas, for the past 10 years. Two generations or more ago, the instance of marketgoers staying in private residences was a pervasive practice. Many High Point area residents still make extra money — or, like the Walls, just volunteer their house out of hospitality — by putting up market guests in their homes.
The number of marketgoers who stay in private residences is difficult, if not impossible, to track because many arrangements are put together through individual deals between homeowners and market visitors.
But David Wall, a lifelong resident of the city, acknowledges that the tradition isn’t as widespread as 25 to 30 years ago. The exponential growth of hotel rooms in Guilford County and surrounding communities and the development of an extensive free shuttle system to the downtown market district have made the need to stay in private residences less pressing.
The combination of more available hotel rooms and the shuttle system, developed in the last five to 10 years, has made it easier to come and go from market, said Wall, owner of Jarrett Stationery Co. and former member of High Point City Council.
“I think that’s a good thing,” he told The High Point Enterprise. “Certainly market misses some of that hometown hospitality that people used to get from staying with families. But I do think it’s much more convenient (for visitors).”
High Point alone has added six hotels and nearly 150 new hotel rooms during the past 28 years. The city had nine hotels with a total of 928 rooms in 1985 — now High Point has 15 hotels with 1,077 rooms, according to the High Point Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The growth has been greater in Greensboro and the county, where hundreds of new hotel rooms have been added. The last 25 years have featured the opening of the Grandover Resort & Conference Center near Jamestown, the expanded Koury Convention Center hotel complex in Greensboro and a series of hotels opened in western Greensboro near Piedmont Triad International Airport.
Another factor that has encouraged more marketgoers to stay in hotels is the moderation of room rates and relaxation of policies on minimum night stays in recent years, said Chris Adams, a former chairman of the board for the High Point CVB.
Area hotels listened to concerns from marketgoers about exorbitant rates during furniture market and “have taken measures accordingly,” said Adams, who’s now regional director of operations with CN Hotels out of Greensboro.
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Spending by High Point Market guests at hotels and motels has an annual economic impact of $140.3 million. The market contributes to the creation of 1,397 jobs in the hotel and motel field. The top two industries supported by spending of marketgoers are food services and hotels and motels, accounting for 42 percent of economic output from spending by market visitors.
Source: Duke University study on economic impact of High Point Market