Coaster highlighted its Avenue collection at High Point, an elevated Indonesian-made bedroom in solid mahogany. The four-piece collection with queen bed retails for $3,349. A four-piece promotional collection in comparison can retail for $999.

Lower traffic, but stronger optimism on tap for wood vendors

HIGH POINT — Despite many case goods suppliers reporting foot traffic that was lower foot than last time they were in High Point, the mood was certainly more positive, with those same companies citing increased enthusiasm from the buyers that were there.

Buyers were also more likely to commit to placing orders, they said.

While not unanimous, most suppliers pointed to a reduction in the number of small- and medium-sized buyers but a greater presence and enthusiasm of Top 100 and larger retailers.

Designers continued to make up a strong percentage of total attendees, with more companies ramping up their efforts to market to them.

Suppliers placed buyers into one of two camps. The first were the ones who knew exactly what they needed before they walked into a showroom. The other group wanted to refresh their floors and came to browse, and likely needed to be truly amazed before placing an order. Both groups wanted and expected to land a good bargain.

Styles on tap ran the gamut, except for one: Natural is strong, whether it’s in materials or tones. The light natural wood colors that dominated in the fall were still strong and noticeable, but to a lesser degree.

Darker finishes made their presence known but with the goal still to highlight the natural wood. Natural woven cane was a popular material.

When it came to categories, the focus was broad, too. A few placed their bets on bedroom, including American Woodcrafters and Legends Home, while others like Steve Silver Co. and Vilo Home stayed true to their strengths in dining.

Suppliers with a broad category presence generally introduced lines that featured everything they offer.

Energetic vibe

The promotional to middle-end Coaster remerchandised its product, showcasing best-sellers and its higher-end product on the first floor of its five-floor showroom. Market was positive, the company said.

“I think it’s all good so far,” said Crystal Nguyen, vice president of merchandise and strategic planning on Sunday at High Point. “There’s an energetic vibe and conversations are flowing. People aren’t just walking by.”

Coaster highlighted its Avenue collection at High Point, an elevated Indonesian-made bedroom in solid mahogany. The four-piece collection with queen bed retails for $3,349. A four-piece promotional collection in comparison can retail for $999.

Since her appointment earlier this year, Nguyen has been leading efforts to ramp up the company’s product design and merchandising. That was seen at High Point with a new showroom set-up, which featured the company’s best-selling and elevated product on the first floor in new vignettes.

“It’s all about presentation,” she said. “We married mid-century modern, walnut and eclectic product all together. Retailers want to know best-sellers. It isn’t always about what’s brand new.”

Entertainment and office specialist BDI revamped its long-standing Elements collection of storage pieces, the line’s first alteration since 2016.

With many of its pieces, BDI is pushing more toward general storage and away from items that specifically hold entertainment components.

The updated Elements features full media storage but works for general storage as well. Two base options — the 24-inch rolling and the 30-inch console — allow for flexibility. Four cabinet door designs are offered, as well as three wood finishes.

The company also expanded its office chair program, adding a full-bodied mesh chair with or without a headrest. The chair features fully adjustable armrests and height-adjustments.

“Retailers are still reacting to the X-chair being pulled out,” said Dave Adams, vice president of marketing. “It’s a big deal, probably both helping and hurting us. We had some galleries where our chairs were featured with the X-chair, so it drove traffic. But (the chair) exiting also creates a void for us to take advantage of.”

Finally, the company hinted at another bedroom coming in the fall, joining its Linq collection that debuted in fall 2022.

“The new bedroom will have similar functionality but with a fresh look and a different price point,” Adams said.

Popular and diverse

Case goods and upholstery supplier Legends Home didn’t introduce as much product overall this time as it did at both 2023 markets, but it still showed new items across most categories.

Bedroom was key, with four new collections being introduced. All are imported from Vietnam and are priced in-line with the company’s core offering. One, Tranquility, is crafted from walnut and could see a four-piece grouping retail between $1,799 and $1,999.

But most notable for the company were fireplaces consoles.

“Fireplaces are really climbing in popularity,” said Tim Donk, vice president of product. “We had some big buyers in here showing interest. I think it’s because the popularity of TV consoles could be going down. And if you’re hanging a TV, why not put a fireplace console under it? People love the ambience they offer.”

Legends said its new fireplace mantle (shown in this living room vignette) was one of its most popular items over Market.
Legends said its new fireplace mantle (shown in this living room vignette) was one of its most popular items over Market.

This spring, Legends introduced 21 new models, each a step up from its core fireplace offering and priced around 5% higher. New models have enhanced features, like soft-closing drawers and fully finished insides. They’re offered in several sizes and models, with the 78-inch retailing for around $1,499. All are made at the company’s factory in Arizona.

“We have a big range in what we offer, around 200 SKUs, and I’m really excited about it,” Donk said.

At the high-end Stickley, earth tones, darker finishes, and look diversification were all on tap.

The company introduced just one new collection, Durant, featuring both upholstery and case goods, as well as expansions and add-ons to several of its better-selling lines.

“We’re pushing a more diverse look,” said Aminy Audi, president and CEO. “Our Arts & Crafts line has staying power, but we’re really offering lots of diverse looks beyond that.”

A greater emphasis was placed on intentional vignettes. The company wants retail stores to display Stickley furniture exactly like the carefully curated vignettes in its showroom.

“We think retailers want cohesive displays,” she said. “People want inspiration, and we’re really trying to be aspirational with our vignettes.”

Stickley's launch at market was Durant, which features copper-topped case goods and oversized upholstery.
Stickley’s launch at market was Durant, which features copper-topped case goods and oversized upholstery.

At eight pieces, Durant features solid oak case pieces and new upholstery. Copper tops are featured on coffee and end tables, while copper drawer fronts are included on a server. Upholstery is oversized, featuring Stickley’s longest sofa yet at 101 inches, along with a large armchair and storage ottoman.

Stickley also expanded and fine-tuned its 30- and 60-day quick-ship programs launched last year. The program features primarily leather upholstery but also select case goods, including Mission Highlands bedroom and occasional. Around 120 fabrics were added to the program this market.

See also:

  • Bedrooms, dining rooms, case pieces galore | With photos
  • If optimism is an indicator, then the furniture business is ready for rebound | Bill McLoughlin

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