This should be an interesting week.
With good reason considering COVID-19’s impact on … well, everything. The word “unprecedented” gets thrown around a lot these days, and it applies again to the fall Premarket in High Point now underway. As of this writing, more than 300 exhibitors were set to open their doors, almost triple the total of the largest Premarkets to date, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that number ends up even higher.
The reasons are straightforward: Companies are telling me many of their customers remain reluctant to attend major tradeshows, and Premarket is an opportunity for one-on-one visits in a much more controlled environment, however many safety protocols are in place for the October show.
Second, with a cancelled April market and a lightly attended Las Vegas summer market, retailers, however cautious, want to see product in person, and Premarket offers them a way to get a jump on October, maybe spread things out some.
A couple of things strike me in particular about this remarkable Premarket. One is the incredible number of first-time participating exhibitors, as well as those who haven’t been here in years such as Ashley and Coaster, and at the high end, E.J. Victor.
Many of the newcomers are very high-end companies of the sort that haven’t shown up since Premarket became a sponsored event, including myriad top-tier upholstery resources like Verellen and Taylor King. The participation of the new HPxD members adds a designer touch to what for the most part has been a case goods-oriented event for at middle to upper-middle and starting high-end price points.
We even have 30 International Textile Assn. fabric manufacturers in the mix.
Sponsoring exhibitors might be understandably miffed that so many vendors are tagging along with Premarket. While the 100 or so retailers they bring in will likely concentrate their efforts on sponsors, some major resources are out there that will probably get a visit.
Still, most of those retailers targeted by the sponsors are not the typical customer for a lot of these higher-end folks in particular. Anyone who just opens up expecting walk-ins is probably in for disappointment.
I manage the Premarket list of showrooms running on Furniture Today’s website, and I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls along the lines of “Should I open for Premarket?” I can’t make that judgment, but I do let them know that if they are opening, they’d best get the word out and find out which of their customers plan on coming.
Along those lines, it will be very interesting to see what kind of drive-in traffic we see this year among retailers and what kind of a draw Premarket can be for high-end, designer-oriented customers.
I’ll be watching, and hope to see you in downtown High Point.