industry insider | Feb 28, 2020 |
Despite coronavirus worries, High Point Market vows to forge ahead

Earlier this week, the organizers of Salone del Mobile sent shockwaves through the design industry by postponing Milan’s annual design week due to concern over the global spread of the new coronavirus. Days later, the CDC issued an unequivocal statement: COVID-19 is coming to America. Understandably, many in the design community are wondering: Is High Point Spring Market happening this year?

Today, the High Point Market Authority issued a statement seeking to quell the speculation: Coronavirus or no, this year’s Spring Market is happening. “The High Point Market Authority is closely monitoring coronavirus updates from the CDC, WHO and United States Department of State, and other concerned organizations. These updates give us no reason to revise our Spring Market schedule,” the statement reads. “We expect robust attendance at Spring Market, except from those countries that are significantly affected by the virus and those places where governments have instituted travel bans.”

The statement goes on to list the precautions that HPMA is instituting, ranging from a designated medical unit at the ready, more stringent housekeeping procedures and a text-based emergency alert system.

HPMA CEO Tom Conley tells Business of Home that based on conversations he’s had with brands and buyers, he’s been encouraged by cooperative reassurances on both sides to show up on April 25.

“It will be a different Market, there’s no question about it. There will be some that choose not to attend, but we hope that the majority of the industry that normally attends Market will be here with us in April,” says Conley. “There are exhibitors that had probably planned on getting goods in March, but plants haven’t reopened or they haven’t been able to get them on the water [to be shipped to the U.S.]. There may have to be workarounds, whether that’s drawings or a smaller amount of samples. But I think they will [make it work], and life goes on.”

Adding some context from his own past, Conley offered a measure of perspective. “I was in the toy industry in New York when SARS hit,” he recalls. “It was a similar situation—people were quarantined and couldn’t travel, but [companies] made do. It’s a scary situation and public health is of great concern, but the industry seems to make it through somehow.”

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