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Beyond The Market: High Point, North Carolina

The High Point Market, which takes place twice a year in the spring and fall, is the world’s largest trade expo for home furnishings. 2,000 manufacturers from over 100 nations gather to present their products in almost 200 buildings with a total showroom and exhibit space of 12.2 million square feet in nearly 200 structures. The enormity of the exhibition is mind-boggling, with an annual economic impact of $6.73 billion, making it the most important economic event in the state of North Carolina.

Covid canceled the Spring Market last year, marking the first time the event had been postponed since World War II. The Fall Market has been expanded from three days to nine days in order to comply with social distancing criteria, while the Spring Market has been moved from April 17-2 to June 5-9, 2021, from this year to the following. All indications are that the semi-annual spectacle will resume, although a few months later than normal this time around.

However, while High Point comes to life twice a year, the rest of the year is very calm. Community leaders recognized that, in order for the city to thrive year-round, it needs compelling reasons for people to visit the downtown area. In order to make that happen, the first step was to construct a baseball stadium, which is now known as Truist Stadium and is home to the High Point Rockers of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.

According to Patrick Chapin, president, and chief executive officer of the Business High Point – Chamber of Commerce, “the city is putting money into the neighborhood surrounding the stadium.” Old Dominion trucking founder David Congdon purchased two historic hosiery mill buildings from the family who founded the company. During World War II, the Adams Mills produced 30 million pairs of socks for the troops on the battlefield. We initiated a $15 million refurbishment project in January 2020, which employed 700 employees at the time. In total, the city is undergoing renovations worth more than $200 million.

“Congdon Yards will serve as the cornerstone of a thriving, dynamic downtown High Point that is open 365 days a year. “We will begin a week-long ‘home warming’ during the first week of May in 2021.”

Among the facilities at Congdon Yards are a collection of modern woodworking technology used for training industry personnel and also available for hire by designers, a floor of office space, the headquarters of a fabric firm, conference space, coffee shops, and gathering places.

Christi Barbour of Barbour Spangle Design is one of the company owners who has relocated her operation to Congdon Yards.

“We were recruited to remodel the inside of the complex in 2019, which coincided with the expansion of our company and the necessity for additional office space,” she explains. “We were ecstatic because the spirit in this place is incredible. After we finalized the design, we relocated our company to this location. What a breath of fresh air that turned out to be!

Among the advantages, she attributes to the new site is the collaborative character of the building’s occupants, according to her.

“It’s also fantastic to be in a 100-year-old mill building with mushroom columns,” says the author. In addition to being an aspirational site, it is also home to a diverse group of creative individuals who are not necessarily associated with the furniture business.

“Change is taking place,” says the long-time local resident. “High Point is emerging as a design and furnishings leader, as well as a hub of innovation. In addition, it is taking place all year round rather than just twice a year.”

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