Pre-Market ends two-day run

Sep. 10, 2013 @ 05:51 PM

For people in the furniture industry like Angus Sears, Pre-Market in High Point is a trial run of sorts.
The two-day event that ended Tuesday gives Sears, a manufacturer’s representative with Aspen Home and Holland House, a chance to meet with the large national retailers that are his customers in advance of next month’s High Point Market.
“Pre-Market is what I expected it to be. I’ve seen the major customers that I knew were coming down, and that was it,” Sears said Tuesday on his way out of the International Home Furnishings Center.
Pre-Market draws major trade-show exhibitors and key customers, according to Kevin O’Connor, who helps organize the event through the High Point Market Authority.
O’Connor is chairman of the committee that assembled about 22 sponsor exhibitors for Pre-Market that pay for the accommodations of the furniture buyers who are invited.
“They’re really making a commitment to the retailers to be market-ready at Pre-Market, so that it’s worth the retailers coming down here to see finished products displayed and priced so that they can make value judgments and real buying decisions at Pre-Market. That makes their buying job at market significantly easier,” said O’Connor.
There were 108 registered buyers for Pre-Market and roughly 40 to 50 walk-in customers primarily from North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee, he said.
“It’s usually around 145 to 150 retailers who have visited somebody’s showroom during these two days,” O’Connor said. “It’s been that way for about the last three Pre-Markets.”
The event got off to a somber start with Monday’s bankruptcy announcement by Furniture Brands International Inc., which has a major presence at market through lines such as Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and Broyhill.
O’Connor said the announcement didn’t have much of an impact on Pre-Market because it had been expected for a long time.
“I think most of the industry knew it had to happen at some point,” he said.
Showroom representatives reported solid Pre-Market attendance.
“Overall, we’re still seeing our major customers, so it’s still working from that point of view. Our showrooms are pretty happy in terms of who they’ve seen and just general attitudes and products,” said Heinz Kattenfeld, chief operating officer of 220 Elm.
He said one goal of Pre-Market is to give top executives with buyers and manufacturers a chance to discuss projects in a more relaxed environment than the twice-yearly market.
Another benefit is that it allows time for exhibitors to tweak products for buyers in advance of market.
“It’s mostly case goods that are made overseas,” said O’Connor. “If they come in and say, ‘I don’t like this chair or this bed this way,’ you can have a reasonable chance to fix it in the next five weeks.”