How Multi-Line Showrooms and Retailers Shop High Point Market
Multi-line showrooms and design brick and mortar stores are a conduit between the manufacturers whose products they sell and the people who make them look good: interior designers. These showroom and store buyers have a discerning approach to High Point and other furniture markets. They have a week – or just a few days – to see all they need to see. Which manufacturers capture the attention of these very important buyers? We caught up with showrooms and stores across the country to understand their priorities when they shop at market. Here are the showrooms they are spending time in:
Filling gaps in their showroom line lists and finding the perfect pieces for the floor
Brian Dermitt is the Director of Sales for Peyton Home, a multi-line to-the-trade showroom outside of Baltimore, Maryland. They carry about 100 fabric and furniture lines and have 13,000 square feet of showroom floor. Space is a commodity. He had this to say about how he plans his High Point agenda: “Market is different for me each season…I think about: Where do we have gaps in our lines? Are we missing a certain category or price point? Are we getting certain requests for a line we don’t already carry? For example this [Spring] market, we checked out Interlude Home because a designer we’ve been doing a lot of work with was asking about it. Art was also a gap we needed to fill. So we sourced lots of art around market.”
Looking for the unique finds at accessible price points
Laura Pankonien of The Pankonien Group owns Bleu by TPG, a home decor shop in Austin, TX. At market, she’s looking for the perfect pieces to cultivate her shop’s aesthetic, appealing to the tastes of both retail and designer consumers. Her market planning juggles dozens of vendors to “curate the mix of traditional and modern pieces you find in [their] showroom, many of these items are not found in other Austin stores. [They] are a small showroom, so [they] lean heavily into lighting, pillows and other home accessories.” She shared specific vendors: “I love to shop Dallas, High Point and Atlanta markets for Arteriors and Currey & Company lighting, as well as pillows and decor from Ryan Studio, Leftbank Art and etu Home…Our furnishings from Villa & House are a high-end look and quality for the price-point, which makes their line popular with our shoppers and the perfect one-off piece for the designer install.”
Alexis Varbero, owner of Schwartz Design Showrooms plans her High Point agenda similarly, “…This year we shopped a handful of the large manufacturers, but also targeted smaller up and coming brands. It was wonderful to experience so much variety and as a result we’ve added new lines to our vendor portfolio, across a variety of price points. We are thrilled to offer them at our three showroom locations to better assist designers with all their project needs. “
Splitting time between design clients and a retail store
Wearing multiple hats at market can be difficult, but that is just what Lori Tran and Colleen West do. Together they own Wldwst, an interior design firm and lifestyle boutique in Leesburg, VA. At market, they are shopping for their retail store as well as for their interior design clients. They are pros at compartmentalizing the two. About shopping for their clients, they said this: “…We visit showrooms to touch fabrics, open drawers, and sit on pieces in person. We were very impressed with the Rowe showroom this market – every piece we sat on was comfortable and their fabric selection was inspiring! Every market we search for unique, one-of-a-kind vintage and found items to purchase for our shop or for specific client projects.”
And about sourcing product for their store, they said, “Our first stop is always Schwung for their beautiful vintage furniture and ceramics. Also Blue Ocean Traders is a great spot for finding goods for our shop. This market we stocked up on blown glass bottles and carved stone bowls. We also found a stunning antique Swedish oil painting for a dining room project at the Antique & Design Center.”
Catching up with vendors and market friends
Kent Schneider, is one of three partners at Verde Home, a design store located near the Americas Mart in Atlanta, Georgia, which also caters to both trade and retail consumers. They carry lines such as American Leather, Massoud, Copeland, Woven, and Jaipur Living. He said they, “spend about 50% of [their] time with [their] select vendors to solidify…existing product offerings as well as plan for future category growth and promotions. The remaining time [is used] to explore new potential partners and to catch up with market friends.”
What Gets Big Buyers in the Showroom?
These buyers have their eye on gaps in their line lists. They often spend a good portion of their time with lines they already carry. What will draw them to a showroom and keep them there? Sometimes, buyers have seen so much white boucle upholstery they need to see something fresh that inspires. Sometimes, getting big buyers in the showroom is less about the new, exciting product intros, and more about the suggestions from trusted vendors, reps, designers, and showrooms, all significant pieces of the market-buying ecosystem.