HPM fall dates expanded
HIGH POINT, North Carolina – As part of its efforts to manage the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the High Point Market Authority (HPMA) has expanded the open dates for the fall 2020 edition of the market here in an effort to spread out attendance and accommodate reduced capacity requirements for showrooms and buildings. The event will now take place over nine days from 13 to 21 October.
In a statement, HPMA said to control the flow of attendees, retail buyers and industry members will be asked to select one of three, three-day periods during the nine-day market as their primary attendance dates during the online registration process.
International buyers – including those from Canada – will be allowed to select any one of the three periods when they register online to attend the market. Canada traditionally sends the largest delegation to the twice-yearly furniture trade event from outside the United States. The authority doesn’t publish attendance figures, but it is believed as many as 400 Canadian furniture and home furnishings retail stores regularly send buyers to shop the market.
Approximately 85 Canadian furniture and home furnishings resources exhibit at the High Point Market.
At press time, the border between Canada and the United States was closed to non-essential travel. It’s not known what travel restrictions will be in place in the weeks before the High Point Market.
U.S. buyers and industry members have been divided into two regions, which are detailed on the High Point Market web site. Their geographic location will determine which if the three, three-day attendance periods they will be allowed to attend.
HPMA also said all attendees will be highly encourages to make showroom appointments before making the trip to High Point.
“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,” HPMA president and chief executive office Tom Conley said.
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,” Conley continued. “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, HPMA is working to enforce a “no early entry” policy, wherein buyers are not permitted to access the buildings or showrooms prior to opening day on October 13. The authority is also encouraging exhibitors 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,” said Dudley Moore, Jr., chairman of HPMA’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.”
Registration for the fall edition of the 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. Preregistration will be highly encouraged, although some modified on-site registration will likely be available.