Hi there, Maggie here - your resident G&P interior designer, mama-to-be and lover of all things neutral. This past month I had the incredible opportunity to travel to the High Point Market (located in, you guessed it, High Point, North Carolina). I absolutely loved my time there and, in an excitingly-coincidental- turn-of-events, High Point is actually where I was born, so I felt a special connection to this place. As this was my first market experience, I felt overwhelmed with nerves and excitement - I wasn't quite sure what to expect and how to prepare for the event. SO, after the whirlwind that was my experience at High Point, I wanted to talk a little bit about the ins and outs of the market, share some advice on what to expect and explain how to make the most of your time while you're there.
And to preface this, although the market was in High Point, I actually stayed at a hotel in Chapel Hill. It’s incredibly hard to find any hotels close to High Point, and the ones that are available are chain hotels. To make my time even more inspiring, I opted to stay further away and experience all that Chapel Hill has to offer in terms of its unique charm, boutique hotels and local eating establishments, which I had heard such a great things about. I'll sprinkle in photos of my favorite stops from there as well.
Pictured: Some beautiful interior design moments at the Graduate Hotel
A "Market" is when a collection of vendors come together in one place to showcase the best and brightest pieces within their collections. It’s available to wholesale buyers and designers, and gives them the opportunity to preview pieces before they hit stores and the world wide web. Though I mainly enjoyed this market through the lens of an interior designer for clients, I also kept an eye out for items that I felt would nestle in perfectly to our little store.
Pictured: The contents of my bag for the market. All the essentials.
The key to being successful at the market is to have a plan for the day. There are roughly 2,000 exhibitors at the High Point Market (!!!) so it can be easy to get overwhelmed if you don’t go into it with a plan of action:
First thing’s first. Wear comfy shoes. If you remember ANYTHING from this writeup, please, let it be that. You’ll be walking a lot. You’re going to see lots of people in fancy sh-mancy heels and whatnot, but trust me, by booth 3 you’ll be thanking me. Function before fashion, ladies + gents.
It's impossible to walk all of High Point market, so unlike other markets where you can wander and discover, you need to map out where you know you want to go. That said, keep your eyes open. When Stephanie went, she discovered our best selling upholstery vendor because she was in the building visiting another vendor and was distracted by some cute sofas along the way.
Make an appointment with your most important vendors. Most exhibitors don’t require appointments, but the wealth of knowledge that our representatives have about their products is seriously invaluable! I know quite a bit about our products and still learned something new from everyone I spoke with.
I took photos of the pieces AND the tag of every.single.item. that I liked. The tag is crucial - after the excitement has worn off and you get home, all the products and vendors will run together in your mind. The tag will help you remember the vendor and product name, which makes for a quick search that brings you to the exact product online. And be sure to catalog all of your product images and tags in a file for each vendor when you get back so it's easy to find when you are looking for something specific for a client.
Take a photo of anything you love, anything unique, anything that might work for a client you don’t yet have, as you never know when you’ll be looking for just the thing you saw.
I also took notes on certain items. I asked myself, how do I feel when I sit on this? How upright is the seat? In what situation would I use this piece, and where? This way, I’m able to speak to the products later on when I field questions like “It’s pretty, but is it actually comfy?”
And finally, bring a battery pack to recharge your phone.
Pictured: Bed, Sofa, Chair / All by Moes Home (are you seeing a popular fabric trend here?)
Now that you’re aware of the pre-market prep, let’s talk about what happens when you actually get there. And I’m going to stress three things. Get there early, pack cash, and download the High Point Market App (search: My Market-High Point Market)!
Get there early! There are lines for EVERYTHING - even the bathrooms. So the parking lots fill up quickly! I’d definitely recommend beating the crowd.
Most parking lots cost around $20 for the day and are cash only. It also comes in handy if you choose to tip the catering staff for the free snacks (more on that later)
High Point market provides you with an app that maps out where all of the vendors are located. So beforehand, I made a list of all the vendors that I wanted to hit and put them in a strategic order, based on the building location. Oh, and in relation to the best food trucks (duh!).
Pictured: Hope Food Truck - buy a meal they give a meal
Italian Ice from Slush Shake (life saver!)
Fantastic brunch from Carolina Coffee House in Chapel Hill
Speaking of food trucks… The trucks are crucial. As I mentioned earlier, parking is a nightmare. Once you’re parked, you’re there for the day. There are maps throughout the square that direct you to the local food trucks parked for the event. I always looked forward to my daily afternoon refresher: Italian ice from the Sunset Slush Shack. There are also a handful of exhibitors who will offer free snacks, drinks and even beer + mixed drinks at their booths as well (being pregnant this time around, I wasn’t able to partake in that final bit).
Pictured: Grey Modular Sectional / Ethnicraft
Rug Display / Jaipur Living
Now the real work begins - actually navigating the showroom. Picture this: You’re in a showroom, looking through all the pretty things. But, ohmagosh, there’s SO many things. How do you filter through the good, the bad and the ugly? To that I say:
Go with your gut and don’t be afraid to be risky.
Note new trendy things that catch your eye. Many trends come and go, but as our mothers always told us about clothing: Never get rid of ANYTHING, just wait a few years and it’ll come back in style. That goes for furniture as well. Nothing ever REALLY goes out of style. Take corduroy, for example: I saw a huge sectional in this classic ‘70s fabric at the market and fell in love all over again! I was instantly transported to my grandparents basement, shag carpeted walls and all.
Keep an open mind. You can’t always take things at face value. Sometimes you have to see them for what they could be! A fabric blast from the past in the form of a corduroy sectional might be… difficult... when it comes to convincing clients to put it in their space. But you know what we could confidently incorporate? A cute corduroy throw pillow that reminds them of their childhood, while making their furniture look totally rad.
Have fun and trust yourself! You are the designer and people admire your taste for a reason. If you like it, that’s all that matters! Who knows, you might even start your very own trend.
Pictured: The Market Square Building
There are so many fun things to see and experience at the market. I loved getting to see so many products in person that I had only ever seen behind a computer screen. It was such an honor to meet some of the passionate, hard working people behind the brands that we call family. If you take nothing else away from this little article, let it be this: (like most things) as long as you wear comfy shoes and have fun, you’ll be just fine!