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Emboldened by thriving business, buyers embrace return to market

One of the unintended consequences of having consumers stay at home for months was the increased demand for home furnishings. Sheltering in place created a desire for refreshed spaces, and with more discretionary dollars reportedly being spent on the home versus vacations or other experiences, retailers and interior designers have been reaping the benefits.

With that as a backdrop, many are here at High Point Market this week to shore up stock, see what’s new and get back to business.

“We feel so lucky to be busy! Our designers are packed with jobs and the retail space as well. We feel that people have started to really focus on their house and decor after being locked up for months,” said Andy Cardwell, owner of Austin, Texas-based A Custom House. “We do business with many interior designers who are equally as busy and will come pull a lot from our store.”

Plus, as home becomes more integral to folks’ day-to-day lives (think work from home, school from home, etc.), they’re going to need to fill those spaces with more functional and multi-use products, said retailers.

“People are spending more time in their homes because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and most people have canceled all of their vacation travel plans and have more money to do their home projects,” said Heather Osmond, owner of three Osmond Designs stores in Utah. “There is a need for re-designing the home office, creating a home gym and updating furniture so that the space will be beautiful and functional and they will love their home again.”

Jamie Merida, owner of Easton, Md. retail shop and design studio Bountiful, said as consumers are leaving urban settings in favor of less dense areas, businesses like his are in position to capitalize on the demand it creates.

“We’re following the real-estate market, which has been crazy on the eastern shore,” he reported. “More people are buying weekend homes so they can vacation close to home without a hassle of travel, [as well as] families that don’t want to be in an urban environment anymore.”

Risa Priestly, owner of Risa’s Interiors of Miramar Beach, Fla., said she’s coming to market to look for furniture, lamps and accessories. She also noted that she’s looking at opening a new store in the Nashville, Tenn. area, so she’ll also be on the look for products that speak to central Tennessee’s aesthetic.

Merida said while he’s always interested in seeing what’s new, this market’s shopping list might revolve around what’s available. “Anything that is great looking and in stock,” he said when asked. “Lead times from many of our vendors have increased due to shortages and backorders on fabrics and parts.”

Osmond said her customers are digging colored leather pieces, particularly sofas and ottomans, to the point that they’re going almost as fast as they’re displayed.

“Our customers love the new sofas, chairs and sectionals that we have and they want them delivered tomorrow,” Osmond said.

For Cardwell, furniture and lamps are on the menu, but he said he’s always on the lookout for ideas that he can bring back to Texas.

“We always love to be inspired by the merchandising,” he said.

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