High Point, N.C. - After most of the main buildings around town changed hands recently and in rapid succession - a process that's still ongoing - the showroom landscape is essentially dividing down into two shopping areas: Hamilton/Wrenn and environs for the high-end stuff and the large core buildings for the rest.
There are exceptions, of course, but as I said, the process is still ongoing. I predict that more of the smaller more agile innovators and entrepreneurial companies who essentially produce collections of individual pieces that better fit the assortment of smaller stores and serve the interior design community will be moving here as long as space lasts.
Except for Baker, which, since its arrival from Grand Rapids several decades ago, has always anchored an area, better known for high end accessories has recently been joined by Hickory Chair and Pearson, previously and seemingly out of place among volume producers in the Commerce Building. These "newcomers" stand in better context to the likes of Theodore Alexander, John Richards, Hickory White with Lillian August and now Bunny Williams who set up independently on the premises of Wesley Hall.
These shifts generate food for thought relative to the future of our entire distribution system for home furnishings in this country. If you think of the demise of many of the traditional outlets, such as Huffman Koos and Robb & Stuckey, for instance, once stalwarts of shopping for your home, and you look at the yawning emptiness of many traditional furniture stores versus the enthusiastically crowded aisles in the likes of Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn and William Sonoma, you know for whom the bell tolled long ago.
Outside of these long-established alternative shopping destinations for home furnishings, you see more and more small boutique retailers cropping up around the country who make it their business to really know their customers and offer meaningful service in addition to meaningful product befitting our contemporary lifestyle. Even Walmart and Target, which occupy a totally different retailing universe, are preparing for smaller formats as they discover that their super markets can overwhelm customers.
Smaller, it seems, looks beautiful to many companies eager to cease new opportunities.