Whether you are a new designer heading to High Point Market for the first time, a seasoned designer who would like to switch up their routine or someone who is interested in what designers do two weeks out of the year, this post is for you! I have lined up some of the industries most talented designers to give you the best tips, tricks and advice in order to get you through the best two weeks of the year!
When designers mention they are heading to Market, we usually receive one of two remarks. The first is “What is Market?” and the second is “Oh, I’ve been to High Point, such a large store”. In fact, Market is an entire city dedicated to two weeks out of the year. There is millions of square feet of showrooms, entertainment and classes throughout the entire city. Planning is essential to this trip so lets begin!
With millions of square feet of showrooms, you will be doing a lot of walking! Stacy Garcia from Stacy Garcia Inc suggests attendees to “wear comfortable (yet stylish) shoes! While funny, this one is super important if you want to get the most out of your experience at High Point.” Amy Vermillion from Amy Vermillion Interiors agrees that comfortable shoes are a must! “Wear comfortable shoes! I’m constantly surprised seeing gals limping around by 2 pm in heels. You walk a lot!”
Along with planning comfortable shoes for your outfits, Michael Strauss from The Design Haus suggests layering your outfits. “The NC weather can be freezing in the AM and then warm up 30 degrees by the afternoon.” Amy also agrees with this advise and suggests checking the weather before heading out.
Along with your clothing and shoes, what to pack in your bag is essential. I know I carry my lightest bag possible due to the amount of catalogs and info you gather throughout the day. Zachary Luke from Zachary Luke Designs and Michael Strauss both agree that water is essential. Michael also likes to “stash protein bars or trail mix in your bag so you can work through hunger pains without slowing down.”
Also in your bag you may want to pack business cards. Michael suggests plenty of them! “The last thing you want to do is run out of business cards. You never know who that one person who can connect you to someone or something bigger.”My number one thing to pack is also on Michael’s list, a phone charger! You will be taking photos and using social media all day long in buildings with poor reception.
One of the most common themes with all of these designers tips is to plan and, as Amy suggests, “Have a plan. Market is huge. Like several square miles and millions of square footage in many buildings. Map out where you want to go (which vendors) and stick to your plan. Group the showrooms according to what part of town they are located. Make appointments to see the reps when possible. You will get more attention and have all of your questions answered instead of walking in.” Michael likes to “print a spreadsheet of all the showroom spots they need to visit and color code them. If you go without a plan you will accomplish nothing.” Stacy agrees with making a plan “Market can be quite overwhelming for first time goers, so map out a plan of must see showrooms and leave time for yourself to roam the market. Remember not to be disappointed if you’re unable to see everything!”
When visiting showrooms, Michael also suggests bringing “a digital copy of your business credentials. You will need your EIN/Tax info to open up new accounts. I find if we don’t complete the account opening papers while on site it tends to get pushed to the back burner once we get back to work.”
Food is something that can be easy to come by if you plan for it. Many showrooms offer a breakfast with mimosas. Amy also mentions that you should “take advantage of luncheon invitations and seminars.” Lately they have been parking food trucks outside the Showplace building which has came in handy many times!
When it comes to exploring, Julianne Taylor says that “a High Point Market visit is not complete without spending a day at Suites at Market Square/Salon and the Antiques & Design Center. There are always new brands to discover and usually no or very low minimums. It’s a great option for designers that are looking for those special boutique brands.” Stacy also agrees with this statement “Don’t be afraid to explore! HighPoint market expands much further than the main hub and some of the best gems are found on the outskirts of the market. One of my personal favorites is the Antique & Design Center at Market Square.” Zachary has a path he likes to follow when it comes to planning your showroom visits. “If you’re a beginner, then start with IHFC. This is the central point of market and a good starting point. You’ll see accessory lines when you start and move on up to furniture. You could spend your whole first day here. Take your time, look around, and connect with the people in the showrooms that you’re interested in. Head to Showplace after that. It’s across the courtyard, take some insta pics in the courtyard too, great place for some photos and take a rest if need be. Showplace has other great lines and plenty to see. I like heading to suites at market square after this. Lots of smaller, interesting lines here. You can open an account with almost all of these lines here without a minimum opening order. 🙌🏻 C&D building is right across the street and has some higher end lines here, but DEFINITELY worth the look. If you still have time at market after all of this, then go roam the streets. You’ll see lines that have a different look, like GJ Styles, and you don’t want to miss out on those!”
The last part of this post has to do with one of the best parts of market, the PARTIES!! It is also the toughest part. Michael seems to agree with me “Stay late into the evening parties even though you may be exhausted from starting at 8:00AM. You will enjoy relaxing but networking with others is a huge part of the biz and often at the parties it’s a more laid back environment. During these showroom event parties it’s less about the product and more about the people.” Zachary loves to also network during these events “Find as many evening events as you can and try to hop around to them. You never know who you’ll see or who you’ll meet. Great to connect with other designers and people with your passion in this industry at those events.”
This was a lot to take in, but I have also listed some additional tips below:
- I know comfortable shoes was stressed in the beginning, but I urge you to NOT wear new shoes to Market. Break those babies in long before they hit the pavement at High Point. You are either walking outside or standing on hard floors inside. You will thank us later. I have even been known to carry band aids and shoe inserts to add throughout the day.
- Where to stay? This can be the hardest part of planning. Lately we have been enjoying renting homes in High Point, but if this is not an option, most designers stay in Winston-Salem or Greensboro. If you are staying in Greensboro, try to get a reservation for Print Works if you have a free evening. The food and atmosphere are fantastic! If you are near Jamestown make sure you check out Southern roots.
- Planning for the weather. If rain is in the forecast, plan to visit the main building (IHFC) for that day as you will be indoors the entire day and can avoid the rain.
- Parking. If you are driving to and from market everyday, try to find out which vendors offer parking passes. This will save you from hefty fees for parking.
- Evening routine. After a long day of eating, drinking and walking the last thing you will want to do is an evening routine, but this will only help you the next day. I like to ice my feet, drink a TON of water, possibly use a hydrating face mask and sleep in order to prep for the next day!
- Learn the transportation. High Point offers a few ways to get around, buses will be going the entire time, some showrooms offer free shuttles, taxi’s and ubers can also be found around town and my favorite way is to hop on a rickshaw if the weather is cooperating!
- Keeping track. All of the products can quickly become overwhelming. Some showrooms do not allow photographs, but for those that do my number one way to keep track of the products and what showroom they came from is to first take a photo of the showroom itself showing the signage. You will then know all of the photos that will follow will be from that showroom. After you take a photo of the product, take a photo of the tag so you can reach out to the rep for info on the product. Another way is to have the showroom create an HFC for you (Hold for Confirmation). They can scan all the items you are interested in and email you the copy. This is especially helpful for the showrooms you have appointments with.
- Look up the entertainment provided. Sometimes you get lucky and get some great concerts and events to attend.
- HAVE FUN and try not to stress!
I hope this came in helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments!