I made the decision last fall. Even though I had no idea how it was going to work out, I was GOING to High Point Market in April of 2017. I belong to several Interior Design groups and I’d learned – if I wanted to really build my business, it was time to go to HPMKT and take Bluestone Decorating to the next level. What a great decision it was!

My First Visit to High Point Market

Planning my trip to High Point Market

I started working out the details in January. After submitting my sales tax resale license, copies of my business documents, etc. I was approved to register and received my passes in the mail. High Point would be opening April 21-26, and I was going to be there. I used their web site to learn about shuttles and hotels, and opted to fly to Charlotte, NC from Weyers Cave, VA. Less than an hour flight, for only $81 round trip. Can you say NO BRAINER? High Point runs shuttles for free from several airports that would deliver me to the Transportation Terminal, and then later to my hotel. I wouldn’t need a vehicle at all during my trip. The hotels weren’t cheap, but I found one in Thomasville on the shuttle route and booked my room. I was ready!

I also sat down with the events calendar that was on the HPMKT website and made myself a daily schedule, including which bus I would need to grab. And who was serving food & drinks in the evenings. Or classes I wanted to take. Which showrooms would be in the area I was heading so I didn’t backtrack too often.

What exactly is High Point Market?

Ummm, the Interior Designer’s Mecca? Seriously, there are over 7 million square feet of Showrooms that open up for Market Week. You must have your pass to enter any of them. I don’t think it’s possible to visit all of them within a lifetime. Seeing furnishings, art, lighting, wallpaper, etc. in person gives a designer or decorator the confidence to order directly from the manufacturer. Most furniture stores source their product lines from Markets as well.

Here’s the big deal for me & for you: I wanted to offer my clients options. Things you can’t find in Harrisonburg. Decor, lighting, outdoor furniture, rugs… I don’t want to create homes that anyone else can do. I want to bring great style and resources to my clients that perhaps we can’t find here in the Shenandoah Valley. And I want to be able to offer great prices to my clientele as well.

I felt a bit overwhelmed

I kept telling my husband that it was all good, visiting High Point Market would be like going to Disney. I wasn’t too far off the mark! Thousands of people everywhere, pouring down rain (a common thing for my family visiting Disney), and a transportation system where you catch a bus to get around to different venues. This is a shot from the Showplace building on my last night, looking back at the 12-story IHFC and the Transportation Terminal. My phone is being a brat and won’t let me offload photos, so I’m relying on what I posted on Instagram to bring in pics today. 🙁

I started at the IHFC building when I arrived in High Point about 5:30 on Friday and immediately found an art gallery I loved. I learned about registering for Trade Accounts, something I didn’t really have before (okay, so I had Pottery Barn and Pier 1, but anyone can shop there!). Because everything was closing down by 8 pm and I needed to eat dinner, pick up my luggage, and catch the shuttle to check in to my hotel, I only visited two showrooms that evening.

Can I share my most embarrassing moment with you? My first full day, I’m ready to roll. I have a backpack for hauling information away. With my excitement and lack of experience, I pick up the catalogs from some of the showrooms I visit. The backpack gets heavy as the day is going on. As I tried to switch it to my other shoulder, I knocked myself over and face planted in the hallway. Yes, that really happened. I’m totally mortified. Three showroom reps run out to help me. I just want them to pretend they didn’t see it. I rolled my left ankle and although it was sore and swollen, I ignored it and kept going. I’m pretty sure I avoided that area of HPMKT the rest of the time I was there, just in case they remembered me. #thisstuffhappenstomeallthetime

High Point offers Classes & Seminars

It’s not just about the shopping & sourcing for Clients. Although I spent a LOT of time meeting sales reps from different companies and sitting on furniture to get a feel for it, I tried to schedule myself for as many seminars as possible. I loved getting to hear directly from Bunny Williams, Candice Olson, and Jeffrey Bilhuber. I did a tour with Courtney Allison from French Country Cottage and discovered Pandora de Balthazar bedding during that tour. I saw Candice twice – once at a sponsored breakfast where she discussed building her design business, and later that day at a class on Wallcoverings. She just launched a gorgeous line through York, so I visited their showroom and set up a Trade account with them as well.

It Rained All Week

Well, Saturday was nice – sunny and 80 degrees. But on Sunday, the rains came. Winston-Salem isn’t too far away and they received almost 7 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. I did check the weather in advance and packed my umbrella, but the temps were below 60 and I wasn’t thinking how cold it would be with rain and lower temperatures. I only took a denim jacket and 2 long-sleeved shirts. The rains stayed until the last day, but it didn’t slow me down. I was determined to keep visiting Showrooms that caught my eye and met my design aesthetic so that I could have great options for my clients.

What Trade Accounts did I Establish at High Point?

Well, that’s a secret reserved for my clients. I did add some to my Instagram as I was wandering around. I will tell you…

  • 5 furniture manufactures, including a leather company
  • 4 art showrooms
  • 4 bedding sources
  • 1 mirror showroom
  • 8 accessory companies
  • 3 lighting companies
  • 1 outdoor furnishings
  • 2 rug companies
  • 1 Wallpaper company, plus another one that does custom wall murals
  • 2 Window treatment companies
  • 2 fabric manufacturers, and I visited one that my favorite workroom already has an account with, so I didn’t set up my own

Wow – that’s a LOT for me to track and keep up with. I think I did pretty well for my first time there. Confession: so often I felt like “country come to town” as I marveled at my own naivety. I met a lot of other designers during bus rides or grabbing a bite to eat, and learned more about how best to maximize these resources.

One of the highlights of my trip was chatting with Tracey & Karen each day on the bus rides. The last night I was there, we were at a Showroom party together when they pointed out to me that we’re on an interior design Facebook group together – Tracey had put 2+2 together and it made it even better that we “knew” each other before we knew each other.

Will I be going back to High Point this Fall?

Unfortunately, not this year. My son will be a Senior in high school and the October HPMKT will hit during football season. But I’m not ruling out visits after that, we’ll see how his tennis schedule looks as we get closer to Spring 2018. Again, being his Senior year I won’t want to miss it. But with the accounts I’ve established, I can stay current through their online & print catalogs.

Occupational hazard – I’m already dreaming up potential designs I’d love to do for clients. But… my job isn’t to create something and find the client later, but to help the client with my talent and resources.

I’m so excited and I’m ready to start decorating with all of this NEW stuff! If you dread hearing your friends say “Oh, I saw that at (insert store name here)!” but would rather hear “WHERE on earth did you find that fantastic sofa/rug/wallpaper/art/mirror/etc???” then give me a call and let’s create something magical.

Until next time… xoxo Crystal

Stay Up-to-Date as a Bluestone VIP Insider

Subscribe to the Newsletter – Click Here

Share Your Thoughts...