Designers are buzzing about the rumor that High Point Market is opening its doors to consumers. The truth? For all intents and purposes, Market remains trade-only. Consumers are officially on the guest list for just one program at the event—a Hearst-sponsored tour.
Hearst and International Market Centers are offering Access Market, a $350 consumer tour, taking place on the final day of Market. “For the first time, High Point Market, the largest furnishing industry trade show in the world, is opening the showroom floor to consumers, providing unprecedented access to view the latest products and designs in home furnishings. Discover the excitement that industry insiders experience and the trends that are shaping home fashion,” reads the invitation. The limited-attendee tour will provide expert tours, as well as seminars with Hearst shelter magazines, including Country Living, Elle Decor, Good Housekeeping, HGTV Magazine, House Beautiful and Veranda.
Tour participants, says IMC, will not be permitted to purchase products from any of the showrooms. They will be referred to retailers or interior designers, and the tours will only allow access to participating showrooms—A.R.T., Bassett, Bernhardt, Drexel, Henredon, Hooker, Norwalk, Thomasville, and Magnolia Home by Joanna Gaines. All price tags will be removed, and “any product inquiries will be referred to a retailer or interior designer to purchase. In fact, we would like to promote the benefit of working with an interior design professional by referring attendees to resources where they can find a designer near them.”
IMC also noted that the event’s goal is to enhance interior designers’ business and “to get consumers excited about the latest home products and trends, and encourage them to invest in redecorating and beautifying their home, which benefits our industry, manufacturers, retailers and interior designers.”
But some designers are not enthused. One petition, “Cancel Curated Day at High Point Market On April 18,” had garnered 280 signatures by this morning. The petition argues, “It is not fair to designers who attend Market and support these vendors.” It also says that opening Market to consumers—clients or would-be clients among them—poses major risks: “All it takes is one ‘savvy’ consumer with a camera and social media following to post a picture of a price tag, and this well-meaning curated tour could easily get out of hand. The business we bring to High Point should be valued, and there needs to be more loyalty to us. We are asking High Point and the other organizers to immediately cancel the Curated Day at High Point planned for April 18th.”