Written and Photographed By: Lynn Leake
High Point is not like any other city in the world. The English who settled in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the 1600s brought furniture making skills with them. First, there was one factory, and then the railroad came through and suddenly there were over 40 furniture companies in and around the city of High Point. With them came all the factories to provide related products, like veneers, plate glass, mirrors, and paint. After that, came the textiles and that brought on the boom of the 20’s.
Today this mark in history is honored with the High Point Market, recognizing High Point still as one of the leading cities to buy furniture and textiles. In April and October the city doubles in size with 100,000 exhibitors and buyers from around the world. The first thing that came to mind when we started preparing for the High Point Market is comfortable shoes. There is a small City’s worth of walking to be accomplished. This year, wisely, I decided to go in flats, being thankful that flats are stylish. A day at the market involves walking anywhere from 6 to 15 miles, and High Point is a hilly town. The International Home Furnishings Center is the heart of town. The main part of the building was first constructed in the 20s, and as the businesses grew the building grew as well. The conglomeration is now a labyrinth of connected structures.
There is 7,000,000 square feet of showroom space around the city where vendors have the unimaginable job of trying to stand out and get our attention as we stroll up and down the streets and halls. I was overwhelmed by the beauty I saw and responsibility of the job ahead of us. We were only there to find pieces our clients may want in their home. Out of millions of items, I tried to select the colors, styles, and price point that would please our particular customers and help them create the home of their dreams.
Most of us were exhausted from the experience. The walking and consideration of each showroom, and each item in that showroom, was tiring to say the least. For the first three or so years I attended, I was completely lost. Lost on all levels, literally. Lost within the maze of halls that are sometimes dead ends and hardly ever take you where you want to be—lost and overwhelmed. In order to keep us going and to entice the buyers into particular showrooms, the floor designers work for months to make beautiful displays that are finished with amazing live flower arrangements made from lovely and unusual blooms, leaves, and sticks. Around every corner there are tables of delicious food that change through the day from early morning fare to cocktails and fabulous catered hors d’oeuvres. The water, wine, and beer flow freely keeping us from leaving that particular showroom.
We were always tempted into spending more money than we intended and visiting showrooms that weren’t on our list. The trick to staying on track is to wear blinders and go only to the showrooms that you are familiar with. But, really, what fun is that? We are passionate about design and the newest colors and textures of fabrics entice us. We are weak and the vendors know that. It wouldn’t be worth going to if we didn’t allow ourselves a little time to explore the unknown. It’s how we come up with new sources and new ideas to keep our creative juices flowing. We drove home worn to a frazzle, but full of new inspirations and a notebook of sales slips that will hopefully turn into the “cat’s meow” for our clients and customers who depend on us to stay ahead of the curve. I can’t imagine what our business would be like without the vendors presenting this magnificent show of style and color at High Point in the Spring and Fall for all the buyers. The showrooms know how to put their best foot forward and to meet our needs in a very seductive way. Once you find the vendors that fit your ambience best, it makes life and the market a wonderful thing.
Lynn Leake received MFA degrees in interior design and housing, and in psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma. She opened LUXE Home Interiors in 2004 and has remained the sole owner since. LUXE Home Interiors is currently located at Waterford Village in Leland. For more information on LUXE Home Interiors, visit luxewilmington.com, or contact the store at 910-371-0464.