I’m entering the recovery mode from yet another High Point Market. Hopefully for me this will involve several tight fly lines in an eddy swirl and several shots of brown liquor swirling over an ice cube. Overall, I’d give the market a solid B. Not great, but we’ll take it. These days, though, I don’t know what great looks like. I suspect we all are still evaluating market success based on metrics that no longer really apply. Clearly the days of throwing elbows to secure a spot on an elevator are gone for good.
I think we need to have a frank discussion about how markets in general will succeed going forward. Parts of Vegas are thriving and parts are struggling. You can probably say the same thing about all of them. Anyone who tells you otherwise is being less than candid. But dismiss any one of them at your peril. We as an industry badly need vibrant, successful markets. So the us vs. them mentality that has developed between many manufacturers and market owners needs to end. There is truth in the cliché that we are all in this together.
So here’s the reality: You just got more done in six days in High Point than in the last six months. Period. Trust and relationships are built on time together. Zoom calls will only take you so far when that personal foundation isn’t in place. Markets are the bricks and mortar that build our collective foundation.
It’s the market’s job to get the right people to attend, and more is better. But it’s not up to the market to make sure that your event was successful. The final mile is on you. Think about it. When was the last time you saw a market promotion that blew you away, that created the must-see showroom? Naturally, I see this through the jaundiced eye of a publisher who believes that most of the world’s problems could be solved with a well-executed trade campaign. Hyperbole, of course, but there is a pearl of wisdom in my oyster of nonsense. We used to watch in awe as Natuzzi shouted from the bow of the ship. You had to get there. You had to get in or you got left behind. Now I can’t even coax a whisper from the dinghy.
So we all need to do a better job of making all markets better. I’ve been hearing that there are too many markets since I joined this industry. See my statement above regarding the last six days. It’s clear now that High Point is ascendant. It is and will continue to be the hub to other regional spokes. That doesn’t mean that the regional markets matter less. A dynamic, financially viable Las Vegas is good for everyone. Same for Dallas, and so on. But we have to be pragmatic. A regional market can’t represent as much of an investment. The numbers have to make sense. And that part is on the markets, on each and every building owner. They need to be profitable without killing their golden goose. Chicago roasted their goose and now the Casual Market is in Atlanta, a cautionary tale for all.
I can’t say that I have the answers. Success looks very different for different players. I have clients for whom 90% designer attendance is right in their wheelhouse, and clients for whom the opposite is true. There will never be a singular metric. But what we all need to do is more listening. When buyers come to High Point, it’s good for everyone. A holistic approach is the only path to success because nobody owns any of this.