Fall High Point Market Prep Continues as Product Demand Increases

HIGH POINT, N.C., September 17, 2020 — High Point Market Authority officials, building owners, and exhibitors are busily preparing for the upcoming Fall Market, scheduled for October 13-21, as consumer demand for home furnishings continues to increase.
The latest Furniture Insights newsletter from Smith Leonard Accountants and Consultants notes, “New orders in June were 30% ahead of June 2019,” and, “New orders were up for 73% of the participants.”
“We have blown away all June-July-August sales records,” said Mac Cooper, CEO for Uttermost. “After a couple slow months in the spring, we are already up for the year, and momentum has never been higher.”
Thibaut’s CMO Stacy Senior Allan echoes the sentiment. “We have seen growth in sales above last July and August, and we are pleased with the rebound since April. We are preparing for a healthy fall.”
Both of these exhibitors plan to show in person at the fall High Point Market, following safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NC Department of Health and Human Services, and the #HPMKTsafe Initiative.
“High Point Market is the only US trade show where we can connect with our clients and solidify our relationships that we have developed over the years. We love to get direct input from our audience on new products and even designs that are soon to be launched,” said Allan. “We are excited to launch all planned 2020 collections and will be previewing our new tapes and trim offering in our showroom.”
“Given High Point’s layout over 13-city blocks in various different buildings, we are uniquely positioned to be able to follow all of the outlined safety guidelines and still offer the in-person buying interactions our industry desperately needs at this time,” said Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. “We are also geographically positioned well, with a large percentage of the industry living close or within driving distance.”
Working closely with state and local health officials, Market Authority officials are communicating the current safety guidelines to building owners and exhibitors through ongoing emails, Zoom calls, webinars, direct calls, and the website.
“High Point showrooms fall under the safety guidelines for retail, so right now, showrooms can be open at 50% capacity,” noted Conley. “The showrooms and buildings will be monitoring their capacity limits closely, and we’ll be doing the same on our transportation systems. Coupled with other safety measures such as required face coverings and daily health checks, enhanced cleaning, and social distancing, we feel prepared for Market to take place safely this October.”
In addition to an abundance of safety measures, buyers attending Fall Market can expect plenty of new product introductions and open showrooms. The recently launched What’s New webpage, www.highpointmarket.org/products-and-trends/whats-new, provides an overview of available new product details, including articles, product previews, and over 500 new product image submissions.
A new filter has been added to the Exhibitor search feature of www.highpointmarket.org to highlight exhibitors who have confirmed they will be open for Fall Market, and only confirmed open showrooms will be filtered to the exhibitor listing in the High Point Market app. Appointments are strongly encouraged for showroom visits, with many exhibitors requiring such.
Beyond scheduling appointments, buyers can find a checklist for preparing for Fall Market at www.highpointmarket.org/HPMKTsafe/how-to-prepare, and an overview of the planned safety measures and requirements at www.highpointmarket.org/HPMKTsafe/keeping-you-safe.
“With the demand for home furnishings currently at record-breaking levels, and given that our industry has not been able to meet for High Point Market since last October, we are thankful for the exhaustive efforts of our state and local health community to help us create an environment in which necessary business interactions can take place safely this fall. It’s vital for moving our industry forward and meeting the current consumer demand,” added Conley.

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High Point Market

Industry associations offer statement of support for fall market schedule

HIGH POINT — Three industry associations are lending their support to the High Point Market Authority for its three-period safe attendance plan for fall High Point Market, set for Oct. 13-21.
Three association leaders — Andy Counts, American Home Furnishings Alliance; Sharron Bradley, Home Furnishings Assn.; and Ray Allegrezza, International Home Furnishings Representatives Assn. — issued a joint statement in support of the new schedule: “The AHFA, HFA and IHFRA have jointly announced their support of the recently proposed nine-day format for the upcoming fall market.”

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SBA Finally Clarifies PPP Loan Forgiveness Rules: Full Forgiveness For Self-Employed Borrowers

(Updated June 17 8:45am ET: Adding information about the SBA’s new Forgiveness Applications.)
If you’re a freelancer or other self-employed person wondering if you’ll get forgiveness for loans taken out under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), yesterday brought good news. The SBA filed its 19th  Interim Final Rule (IFR), scheduled to be published on Friday June 19th, focusing on revisions made from Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (Flexibility Act) signed into law on June 5th.  The unpublished version of the update ensures full forgiveness for self-employed, freelancers and independent contractors who took the maximum loan amount based on 2.5 times their 2019 monthly income. (Under previous rules, the eight-week limitation made it hard to get above the 75% payroll threshold.) Here’s what you need to know.

PPP forgiveness changes coming as Senate passes House bill

By Jeff Drew

The U.S. Senate passed the House version of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) legislation Wednesday night, tripling the time allotted for small businesses and other PPP loan recipients to spend the funds and still qualify for forgiveness of the loans.
The bill passed in a unanimous voice vote hours after Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson initially blocked it. Among the key provisions is a change in the threshold for the amount of PPP funds required to be spent on payroll costs to qualify for forgiveness to 60% of the loan amount.
The Senate approval sends the House bill, called the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.
The vote had to be unanimous because the Senate is not officially in session. That meant that any senator could force the matter to be delayed until the Senate returned to Washington with enough members for a quorum and a vote.


Ray Allegrezza Holds Q & A With Tom Conley About October Market

Knowing the impact the Covid-19 virus has had on the home furnishings industry, IHFRA has published a series of interviews with key retailers, reps and manufacturers in order to bring you their respective observations, responses and strategies.


 This is our final installment—a conversation with Tom Conley, CEO of the High Point Market Authority. 


 Under Conley’s supervision, the Market Authority recently announced a proposed new format for the upcoming October High Point Market.  


 The format, while very different from what market attendees have been used to, provides the safest and most cogent solution to host the market.

 What follows are Conley’s comments about the upcoming October market.


Q: First of all, the industry needs to thank you and the Market Authority for coming up with a plan this quickly.   How was this plan arrived at---and who else had input on the proposal?
TC: We’ve had input from any sources and to make sure we had our pulse on the industry, we spoke at length to The International Home Furnishings Representatives Association, The Home Furnishings  Association and the Board of the American Home Furnishings Alliance.
Q: Were there other options being considered?  Can you comment on why this nine-day format proved to be the best solution?
 TC: Yes, there were three options. 1) Keep the Market the way it had been prior to Covid-19.  2) Appointment only over a 21-day period, and  3) The one one we chose.
Q: For the record, can you weigh in on why option 3 was selected?
TC:  Absolutely.  We think that this option offers the closest solution to our twofold objectives – Convince the Governor that we can comply with CDC guidance and keep everyone safe and convince the buyers that High Point will be extremely safe.
Q:  How heavily was the Governor involved in this process and to the best of your knowledge is he fully on board with the nine-day format?
TC:  They saw everything and appreciated our due diligence.  It is too early for them to approve our plan.  But we will continue to dialogue.
Q: There seems to be some confusion about how long a dealer can be at the upcoming market.  Can you clarify this?
TC: A dealer can stay as long as she/he chooses.  We asked that they indicate the primary period when they register and that they choose based on region. I would like to stress that our goal is to spread people out, encourage appointments, but NOT to limit the time that a buyer needs to work Market.
Q:  Clearly the health and safety of everyone at market is a priority.   What steps will the Market Authority take on its behalf to keep show goers safe?
TC:  While we have limited control, we do have  very loud voice.  So, we will be extremely cautious with busses, registration, education events (if we have any).  And we will work very closely with building owners and exhibitors to give them the guidance and the tools to have a safe and successful Market.
Q: What is your understanding regarding what the individual buildings will do to minimize any health risk to show attendees?
TC: Our understanding is that the buildings will provide extensive cleaning, limited use of elevators and escalators, require masks, social distancing signage and any other precautions they can take.
Q: I realize it is very early in the game, but do you have a best guesstimate regarding how many people may attend the October market?
TC:  We are pretty sure that the international buyer attendance will be very light.  That is 10% of our buyer base.  We have a very large group of buyers that can drive in.  The wild card is how many buyers from West of the Mississippi will board an airplane.
Q:   When you announced the dates and format the press release said any changes to the initial plan would be shared.  Are there any changes that have taken place since the press release went out?  If so, can you update us? 
TC:  None so far. We are constantly monitoring the situation and will advise if changes occur.
Q: A growing group of showrooms in High Point are planning to schedule appointments with customers June 16-18, 2020. Is the Market Authority officially involved in this move?
TC:  No.  But we support and encourage those buyers and sellers who can get together any time to conduct business.
Q:  Do you think the new dates of the Summer Las Vegas Market (Aug 30th - Sept 3) will impact the October High Point Market?  If so, how?   
TC: I applaud IMC for wanting to make sure that the Western region has a Market.  I am not sure how the new dates will affect buyer attendance.

Editor’s note. Prior to conducting this interview with Tom Conley, IHFRA had received a number of questions regarding the upcoming new format for the October High Point Market.


Conley was gracious enough to supply succinct answers to those questions, so in the interest of clarity, what follows are those questions and Conley’s responses.

Q:   How are they going to police the dealers to make sure they stick to their group days?
TC: No policing.  We trust they will abide.
Q: How are they going to sterilize  the showrooms each day? 
TC:  We will make recommendations to each showroom.  But the responsibility is theirs.
Q: Can Group 1 also go into  Group 2 if they are behind schedule?
TC: Yes, as we’ve noted, any buyer can stay as long as they want.  We are just asking them to pick a primary period.
Q:  In theory, Group two could be very busy because it allows Group 1 and Group 2.  . How will we control that? 
TC:  We are urging appointments. Control in showrooms is an exhibitor issue.  We will control busses and urge distancing around town.
Q: Will everyone have to wear a mask in the buildings? If so, who will provide them?
TC:  We are ordering 100,000 masks.  We will provide to anyone who wants one.  But buildings and exhibitors will make their own rules.
Q:  Do the out buildings have to comply with the same group times?
TC: Yes.  That will help spread things out.

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High Point Market Authority Expands Fall 2020 Market Dates

HIGH POINT, N.C., May 21, 2020 — In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the High Point Market Authority is expanding the Fall Market dates in an effort to spread out attendance and account for expected reduced capacity requirements for showrooms and buildings. Fall Market will now take place over 9 days from October 13 – 21, 2020.
In an effort to control the flow of attendees, buyers and industry members will be asked to select one of three, 3-day periods during the 9-day Market as their primary attendance dates during the online registration process. Domestic buyers and industry members have been divided into two regions based on the home state of their company headquarters. The regions breakdown was developed in partnership with the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA) to be sensitive to sales reps and typical regional territories. Those in Region A will be permitted to register for either Period I or II. Those in Region B will be permitted to register for either Period II or III.
The states breakdown for each region and the dates included in each period are outlined on the High Point Market website on the COVID-19 Updates page, www.highpointmarket.org/covid-19-updates. International buyers and media will be allowed to select from any of the three periods. Students passes will only be available during Period III. For all attendees, showroom appointments will be highly encouraged.
“We anticipate less restrictive guidelines for large gatherings this fall, but the need for increased safety measures will still exist. Although we have over 11 million square feet spread over 13 city blocks, likely allowing us to have upwards of 50,000 attendees on any given day, we want to be overly cautious and stay below that maximum each day so all guests feel safe and comfortable attending and visiting their favorite showrooms,” commented Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority.
Additional health and safety measures will also be in effect, such as increased sanitation and cleaning efforts, social distancing requirements, and enhanced medical services in an effort to create a safe and welcoming environment. Further details will be shared as plans develop.
“The safety and well-being of our stakeholders, industry members, and state and local citizens remain paramount,” commented Conley. “Our robust safety and security measures are being expanded to specifically address COVID-19, per guidelines shared by the CDC and local medical authorities. We remain in contact with our state and local health officials, and we will continue to engage with them over these next few months, updating our response plan as needed.”
To maintain fairness and ensure attendees adhere to the attendance periods, the Market Authority is working with buildings to enforce a “no early entry” policy, wherein buyers are not permitted to access the buildings nor showrooms prior to the opening day of Market on October 13. The Market Authority is also working with exhibitors, encouraging them to hold all product commitments until the close of Market after all regions have had a chance to attend and view product.
“The Market Authority staff and board of directors developed and reviewed several alternatives for Fall Market that were adaptive enough to accommodate enhanced safety precautions while still meeting the needs of our industry, state, and local community,” commented Dudley Moore, Jr., chairman of the High Point Market Authority’s board of directors and president of Otto & Moore. “This expanded and staggered plan was unanimously accepted by our board as the premier preference, given its ability to provide buyers with attendance flexibility while keeping safety as the top priority through a controlled flow.”
“High Point Market has been a staple in this community for well over a century now, and the impact of the spring cancellation was far-reaching for both our citizens and our local businesses. We welcome the return of this economic driver this fall, recognizing the boost will be much needed for business owners, while also keeping safety top of mind. We are already working closely with the Market Authority team as well as the proper medical authorities to ensure the safety of our citizens as well as the Market guests who will be visiting our great city this October,” commented City of High Point Mayor Jay Wagner.
Registration for Fall Market will open in mid-July at www.highpointmarket.org, at which time registrants will be able to select their primary attendance dates from the outlined periods. Pre- registration will be highly encouraged, although some modified on-site registration will likely be available.
About the High Point Market Authority 
The High Point Market Authority, www.highpointmarket.org, is the official sponsor and organizer of the High Point Market in High Point, N.C. Featuring an extensive selection of exhibitors spanning every category, style, and price point, and attracting tens of thousands of visitors from more than 100 countries twice each year, the High Point Market is the driving force of the home furnishings industry. Find the High Point Market anywhere online, and follow on social media using the hashtag #hpmkt.
High Point Market Authority
164 Main Street Suite 700
High Point, NC 27262
P: 336.869.1000
F: 336.869.6999
Contact: Ashley D. Grigg
Director of Marketing and Communications



If there was ever any doubt regarding the severity of Covid-19 on independent home furnishings reps, just-released survey from market research leader Leflein Associates, confirms the toll the virus is having on their businesses.
According to the just-released survey, taken by Leflein among 422 members of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association (IHFRA), virtually all of them—99.8%–admitted losing income, with the average loss coming in at a staggering 73%.
And while more than half—54%–said that their customers have called to cancel orders, a larger number—60%–have reached out to place orders.  And while some of the orders being placed are likely to be re-orders, the fact remains that orders are once again being placed.
Not surprisingly, as consumers continue to abide by stay-in-place recommendations, online sales, already brisk, have continued to spike.  In fact, one-quarter of the IHFRA reps participating in the survey acknowledge that online sales of furniture and related home accessories have kept them afloat as they struggle to navigate the unchartered waters caused by Covid-19.).
When asked to identify online sales of specific product categories keeping the reps afloat, standout categories were accessories (35%), bedding (31%), home office (27%), outdoor furniture (25%), case goods (23%) and upholstery (22%).