High Point, North Carolina, Beyond The Market
Held twice a year in the spring and fall, the High Point Market is the world’s largest home furnishings trade show. 2,000 manufacturers from over 100 countries come to show their products in nearly 200 buildings encompassing 12.2 million square feet of showroom and exhibit space. Generating $6.73 billion annually, the scale of the show is dizzying, the largest economic event in the state of North Carolina.
Covid put a halt to last Spring’s Market, the first time it was cancelled since World War II. The Fall Market was extended from three days to nine in order to meet social distancing requirements, and this years’ Spring Market has been shifted from April 17-2 to June 5–9, 2021. All signs indicate that the semi-annual extravaganza will resume, albeit a few months later than usual.
But while High Point comes alive twice a year, it is quiet the rest of the time. Community leaders realized that, for the city to flourish year ‘round, it needed reasons for people to go downtown. The first step towards making that happen was to build a baseball park, Truist Stadium, home of the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
“The city is building up the area around the stadium,” says Patrick Chapin, president and chief executive officer of Business High Point – Chamber of Commerce. “David Congdon, of the family that started Old Dominion trucking, bought two buildings of a former hosiery mill. The Adams Mills provided 30,000 pairs of socks to soldiers in World War II. In January of 2020, we began a $200 million renovation which employed 700 people.
“Congdon Yards will be the cornerstone of the vibrant, dynamic, open 365-days-a-year downtown High Point. During the first week of May, 2021, we will begin a weeklong ‘house warming.’”
The Congdon Yards complex includes a collection of sophisticated woodworking machinery for training employees of the industry and also available for rent by designers, a floor of office space, the headquarters of a fabric company, meeting space, coffee shops and gathering spaces.
One of the people who moved her business to Congdon Yards is Christi Barbour of Barbour Spangle Design.
“We were hired to do the interior of the complex in 2019, just as our business was growing and we needed more office space,” she says. “We were psyched – the energy in this building is so great. After we finished the design, we moved our business here. It proved to be a breath of fresh air!”
Among the benefits of the new location, she says, is the collaborative nature of the building tenants.
“And, it’s wonderful to be in a 100-year-old mill building with mushroom columns. It’s an aspirational site, full of creative people who are not necessarily in the furniture industry.
“Change is happening,” adds the lifelong resident. “High Point is becoming a leader in design as well as furnishings, a center of creativity. And, it’s happening year ‘round instead of just twice a year.”