Who is afraid of the second half? Home decor sellers at High Point Market are bullish about business

High Point – Despite inventory issues and an overall decline in consumer demand, High Point Market sellers expressed some optimism about the second half of the year based on recent spring market turnout.

“The market has been a wonderful surprise,” said Marie Wilson, merchandise director for Cyan Design. She said the company has met more customers who write their orders in the market. “We are just happy.”

It acknowledged that consumers are resetting their disposable income and spending it on other things besides their homes – like travel, for example. The company’s design and hospitality businesses are strong, she said, but the retail side is weak and will take some time to come back, once inflation slows.

Mark Abrams, owner of Outlet 68, notes that retail is usually down before tax season. This time, a lot of retailers are feeling overstocked, too. Retailers now only buy exactly what they need for their floor without backing up inventory because they expect sellers to fill deliveries in a timely manner. Otherwise, “there’s a lot of money for retailers to sit on,” said Abrams. “People are smart – they try to be as efficient as possible, but also change or refresh their stores and add to their assortments all the time to interact with the market.”

Barbara Einstein, co-owner with Ted Einstein and Charlie Shaw, of Dovetail, agreed that retailers haven’t bought into the market as much as they did last year. “We think of it as a healthier business because last year people were hoarding and they canceled a lot. Now they know they can refill. Dovetail has the inventory.”

Overall, the market has been “nothing but positive,” she said.

Classic Home has seen more designers hit the market recently, which is a good thing, according to Matt Sorensen, senior vice president of sales. “We are able to serve a large number of clients. When the retail side slows down, the designers business tends to pick up.”

The demand for unique products is high, said Thomas Andonian, vice president of furniture at the company. (Smaller) retailers want to keep themselves interesting and attract people to their store, while larger retailers have carved out parts of their floors with a flea market or some kind of grab-and-go.

In terms of trends, Andonian noted the continued popularity of curved pieces, and said vertical items like bookcases are appreciated for their storage potential. Of the ubiquitous old markets, Andonian said, “we don’t do much of it anymore.” However, the color is requested more often. He told the story of a retail buyer whose store owner charged 20 percent off the color on the floor by way of accent pieces.

Giovanni Mare, Nourison’s director of marketing and digital strategy, said the company experienced modest growth this year due to some strategic and efficient orders.

“We have a healthy stock now,” he said, “we’re hardly out of stock.” “We’ve been able to be flexible and pull orders forward. We’ve found that our e-commerce sales are up, but physical sales are down. We’ve done very well in that market. People are coming in to buy.”

Harounian Rugs International (HRI) has also introduced several new rugs this spring, including the Oushak Pakistani rug that has sold out quickly through the market. “We’ve seen twice as many people in this market as we did last fall,” added Diana Samuels, HRI’s director of operations.

Samuels said the company found demand had increased for single-size rugs so they added runners and larger sizes. She added that HRI also has a custom sizing option that will appeal to designers.

Associate rug company Orian has brought on 12 new salespeople over the past several months to meet the company’s growing business needs. The South Carolina-based company makes rugs in the US, and that has made a huge difference to potential buyers, according to marketing director Julie Weaver.

“Our sales have really improved and we’re doing really well with inventory,” she said. “We look forward to a very successful market.”

At Skyline, the US manufacturer of custom upholstered furniture, sales are generally going well this year, although this market has been a little sluggish.

“We plan to launch a much larger High Point Market product this fall. Stay tuned,” said Megan Wicker, president of the company. “We bought a new digital printer that leaves no residue in the fabric. This really speaks to our company’s focus on sustainability.”

Back at Port 68, Abrams was bullish about business. “If you can get through COVID, you can get through anything,” he said.

—Ann Flynn Ware contributed to this article.

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