As someone who is still relatively new to the retail furniture world, I can truly say that some aspects of the business still really fascinate me.
One of those aspects is how the heck we decide WHAT to put in our stores! I mean our superstores are huge, and we carry some of the top furniture lines in the business, but at the end of the day, there is still a ton of furniture out there that we don’t carry.
What I’ve learned is that it’s a VERY precise business. Our buyers do a ton of research to determine the best fits for our store.
All of that research culminates in Market, which is held several times a year–in North Carolina and Las Vegas.
For this blog, we’re going to take a look at the most recent Market–the Spring High Point Market in beautiful NC. According to the Market’s website, more than 75,000 people flock to this small Carolina town every six months to take part in one of the furniture industry’s biggest trade shows. The “Market” is made up of 180 buildings, 11.5 million square feet of showspace, and 2,000+ exhibitors from more than 100 different countries.
Upon their return from the Tar Heel State, I asked our buyers to give me a little sneak peek into what’s hot this season, and what it’s like to be at Market.
Elaine Haskey, Upholstery
“In the world of Upholstery we were really excited to see Boho, or ‘nuevo hippie.’ It’s very colorful, almost Middle Eastern looking…like items you would find in a bazaar. The pieces are made from very thick fabrics full of color.”
-Modern looks that span all price ranges, both in fabric and in leather. That modern look is also coming into motion furniture.
-Power lumbar continues to be big in motion. Power recline, power headrest, and power lumbar allow the lower back to be supported.
-BOLD colors: Like chartreuse, yellow, and burgundy
-BLUE is still really big, which confirms what we’ve been doing as a company
Dawn Still, Case Goods
“Being in Case Goods, what we’re looking at is new wood finishes, distressing of the wood, and the wire brush look. It literally looks like someone beat up the piece of wood. Grays are hot. Also a dry finish, and tons of wood species: Acacia, walnut, bleached white oak, and mango to name a few. We are also seeing more multi-functional pieces.”
Jenny Kordus, Accent Furniture
“Accent Furniture vendors are really focusing on multi-purpose pieces–like bookcase piers, cabinets that could be storage or wine racks, tables that can also be used for the office, and that’s just to name a few. Farmhouse is still a big trend, as well as whites and off-white. And barn doors are everywhere!”
Teri Hayden-Kalis, Rugs and Accessories
The trends I saw repeated the most in the showrooms:
-BLUE: All shades of blue accessories and rugs everywhere–Navy, Turquoise, Peacock
-GOLD/ANTIQUE BRASS: Gold and brass are back, as you may have been noticing on all of your clothing lately (zippers, buttons, etc)… and showrooms are also filled with brass accents and accessories.
-MONGOLIAN FUR PILLOWS: These are everywhere! They come in every color, go with anything, and add tons of texture.
This is some great insight into the hottest furniture trends for this spring and summer. But I also wanted to know a little bit more about the market itself. What is it REALLY like to attend, and what are some tips for those who may be checking out Market for the first time?
The biggest reaction from our buyers: Wear comfy shoes!! Buyers typically log about 6 miles a day, walking from appointment to appointment.
This spring, our buyers also had to compete with rain basically the entire time. When you compile that with 12-15 hour days, it takes some of the glamour out of the experience!
But all of our buyers agree Market is a great event for our industry, and a vital part of networking and developing relationships with vendors.
Jenny says it’s also a chance for the buyers to grow closer. “We don’t always get to hang out at work, so it’s nice to be together, have ‘family’ dinner.”
Teri adds, “My favorite thing about market is seeing all of the new products and designs displayed in gorgeous showrooms. Most showrooms are reset and redesigned for every market.”
And believe it or not, Market is just the START of all the work for our Merchandising Team! Dawn explains, “You come back and you have to execute. The market is the easy part.. then you have to follow through with the vendors.”
As I’ve learned through my first couple years of working at Steinhafels, the world of furniture is beautiful to gaze at and enjoy, but there is sooooo much work that goes on behind the scenes to make it happen.
I will continue to share some of my discoveries in this blog… so stay tuned!