High Point Market leaders tout high buyer numbers

Apr. 11, 2014 @ 03:39 PM

High Point Market leaders say aggressive efforts to draw more traffic to the furniture trade show are paying off.

The number of furniture buyers registered for the spring market, which ended Thursday, was up 6.85 percent, and the number of buying companies at market was 12.38 percent higher than last fall, said Tom Conley, the High Point Market Authority president and CEO.

Conley said 15,880 buying companies were registered for market, the highest number since before the Great Recession. Doug Bassett, chairman of the High Point Market’s board of directors, said the numbers are a good sign.

“Imagine how many people have gone out of business since 2007, 2008. So, for us to be at the same number of companies, that shows we’ve grown by leaps and bounds finding new companies across the country who have not been to High Point Market,” Bassett said.

Officials said figures on how many people actually attended market won’t be available until next week.

Conley said telemarketing was used to try to reach 31,000 prospective new market attendees.

“Finding new buyers to come to High Point Market is very critical. Our challenge is to find new prospects,” Conley said.

Bassett said the additional $200,000 the N.C. General Assembly gave the authority this year helped considerably with marketing efforts. The legislature provided a total of $1.85 million for marketing efforts and transportation services.

The market authority’s $4.9 million budget includes the state funding, $1 million from the city, $1.5 million in showroom taxes, $275,000 in hotel tax revenues, $150,000 from the High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau, and $75,000 from Guilford County.

“In recent years, the market authority faced the challenge of declining revenues, because funding from the state was creeping down, and we weren’t growing other revenue sources appreciably,” Bassett said. “The market authority the last couple of years has done a great job growing sponsorship money, and finally income from the showroom tax is creeping up.”

The funding should enable the authority to make more inroads in its marketing efforts.

“I think it’s remarkable what’s been accomplished with the telemarketing campaign,” Bassett said. “For the first time in a long time, we have the money to go beyond what we do normally.”

Bassett said he and other market advocates have reached out to legislators and the office of Gov. Pat McCrory to try to keep the funding levels in place.

“Unless something horrible happens in Raleigh, we expect the same amount of funding,” he said.