High Point Market Update October 2017

by Star Furniture on November 21, 2017

We recently sat down with Michaelle Pelzel, an Accessory Buyer for Star Furniture to discuss her recent experience at High Point Market. We chatted about the various aspects of the experience and what the future holds. Michaelle gives great insight into the overall experience and she definitely has her finger on the pulse of the industry. Keep reading to see exactly what goes into helping you create the perfect space in your home. Ten questions, ten responses loaded with information. You are sure to be surprised.

  1. What goes into your job as an Accessory buyer Michaelle? Simply put, it means I buy “everything but the furniture.” My focus is wall decor, lighting, tabletop accessories, top of bed, accent pillows, and greenery/trees. It is my job to take what the other three buyers purchase and help tie the vision/concept all together with the finishing touches. I heard a “Holiday present” analogy the other day that summed it up perfectly: Our upholstery & bedroom buyers buy the boxes, our accent furniture buyer buys the wrapping paper, and I buy the ribbon/bows/tag that ties it all together.

  1. What is High Point Market and how often is it held?
    High Point Market is the largest home furnishings trade show where over 2,000 exhibitors in over 180 buildings showcase their lines to furniture buyers, designers, and industry leaders from all around the world. This market is held twice a year (one week in April and one week in October) in High Point, North Carolina. People ask me all the time to describe what it’s like and as well as I try, it really is something you’ve got to see to believe…Imagine a town where there is no bank, no post office because each of those buildings have all been taken over by showrooms! Because there is so much to see, we as the buyers have to be very strategic in our scheduling – a typical day involves walking at least 6-7 miles and working about 10 hours each day….no rest for the weary!
  1. What is your primary purpose for attending?
    We go to market twice a year to make sure that we have the perfect assortment of furnishings for our stores, from major upholstery and case goods to the smallest accessory. We want to make sure that we are providing something for everyone to make Star a true “one stop shop” destination. Styles and trends are also evolving so rapidly over the last few years that it’s important we stay on top of what the current consumer is looking for. What was popular six months ago may not be what the consumer is looking for now, so we need to adapt our stores to meet those needs. In the accessory/accent categories, the styles change much more rapidly than furniture, so the accent buyer and I have also recently been attending the Las Vegas Market twice a year in between High Point to make sure we are current with the industry.
  1. When you go, what are looking for specifically?
    I think it’s safe to say it’s no secret that over the last few years the buying strategy has changed for many consumers, especially with the millennial generation growing in their buying power. They typically are not as willing to spend a significant amount of money on their furnishings because there is a good chance that their style will change in a few years, or they want to spend it on traveling/experiences. That being said, at this last market we as a buying team were very focused on “widening our net” to reach those consumers (as well as others) and going after different price points than what we typically have in the past….and I must say, I’m very excited about some of the new things we all found!

  1. Are there any items you look for every time you go?
    Each buyer has different objectives each time when going into market, and two big reasons for that is because of the feedback we receive from our sales associates and what we see from our line-up that is selling vs not selling. A few weeks before we travel, we as a buying team send all of our sales associates a series of questions to get a better understanding of what today’s consumer is looking for. Do we have a wide enough assortment? Are we carrying anything that is below their expectations? Do we need to expand in any category? Since they have daily interaction with the consumer, their feedback is incredibly beneficial and helps give us direction with what to look for each market. On the other hand, looking and analyzing our current assortment plays a factor in what we need to look for. There might be a rise in the “urban casual” consumer so we broaden that assortment while decreasing our “European Traditional” category if there’s not as large of a consumer for that. So while we might look at the same categories every market, what we’re searching for within those areas definitely varies each time.
  1. Are there any favorite areas (dining/bedroom/living rooms)?
    My favorite area to buy for is definitely the living room, the heart of the home! Consumers tend to keep their major purchases, like a sofa pretty neutral and that to me just equals a blank canvas that I get to work with. They may like color, but they don’t want it to dominate their space (like it would on the sofa fabric), so the accessory categories are a great way to incorporate a pop of color without being overwhelming and can easily be changed if their preferences change or as trends change. It’s also fun and challenging to show different style and color options that consumers may not necessarily think about – I love when I see consumers get inspired by something they see in our showroom and they take that inspiration with them to their home.

  1. Is there a particular theme for the market each time it is held?
    I wouldn’t say there are particular themes going into market, but trends definitely become apparent while there. For example, it became very obvious this last market that there were three major color trends- blue, blush pink, and different metals. Interestingly enough, those three color palettes were found at all price points and all happen to be a part of the Sherwin Williams and/or Pantone 2018 color trend predictions. I found these palettes in all categories as well, so those that are adventurous and want a deep blue sofa could have that or those more conservative could add pops of color in with accents. Another trend I ran across was Bohemian, which uses stronger textures, colors, and patterns. More and more people today are wanting to have major experiences in their lives, and a lot are achieving that through travel…the Bohemian trend pulls inspiration from all over the world and I think more consumers are gravitating towards that.
  1. Have you noticed any trends or shifts in the marketplace during your trips?
    Again I think that over the last few years styles and trends have been constantly changing, making each market so exciting – we see something different almost every time. On a broader scale, I’d definitely say that contemporary is here to stay, just with more variations – there’s casual contemporary, urban contemporary, glam contemporary, etc. Also, with the chaotic schedules most people experience these days, they want their home to be a safe haven for them, which translates into cleaner lines, less “stuff” and more meaningful pieces and I think the contemporary style lends itself to that feeling more so than traditional.

  1. What do you see as the future of market?
    Technology! Whether it’s vendors participating in e-commerce or adding more bells and whistles to their product, technology needs to be considered in all aspects moving forward. It’s becoming the standard now for a motion sofa to come with power headrest, power footrest, and power lumbar and now some even have apps that allow you to control all of those features from your phone. Even on the accessory side, more and more lighting is coming equipped with USB ports and I even found a lamp that had Bluetooth capability and could play music!
  1. Do you ever see furniture purchases completely shifting to an online platform or have parts of it already shifted?
    I think it is definitely shifting as we speak – I mean, think of how many times a day we check our phones for various things. Consumers are spending more time online now more than ever and it’s critical for brick & mortar stores to have an online presence. I know for me, I always check a review online first for a restaurant or electronic I want to buy – why not do the same with furniture? It is a little different because it’s such a textural industry (you still want to feel the comfort level of a sofa or mattress), but having a strong online presence definitely helps bring consumers into the stores.

There is a lot that goes into giving you options when it comes to furniture. Did you catch the part where Michaelle said she can walk up to 6 or 7 miles per day chasing down vendors to look at their offerings? Furniture is a big business, but only because it is so diverse. The industry is constantly striving to give consumers more options. People like Michaelle curate and make it happen so you can walk into a showroom filled with the best options. That is the real value of High Point Market.

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