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Susan Dickenson

Buyers look to freshen, color and compete

Jillian and RachelleJillian and Rachelle Roth (seated) and staff, Urban Country
Business is brisk, blues are big and retailers are multitasking. As online retail's slice of the home furnishings pie gets bigger, brick-and mortar retailers are expanding with interior design services, beefing up their social media marketing skills, becoming articulate about antiques and providing the personal service and sensory experience that only a "real" store or retail showroom can provide. Some of them are venturing into the online arena themselves, with niche categories, popular sellers and unique one-of-a-kinds. All of them, though, seemed to be finding what they needed in High Point last month.

I'VE BEEN COMING to High Point, both markets, for 22 years. We come with an open mind, because you never know what you're going to find. I'm always kind of surprised, and that's usually the best way to find things - without any preconceived notions. This market, Jillian (Roth) and I are joined by our lead designer, visual director and the head of our trade program. We all shop together at market, and are here until Wednesday. Business has been good, we're doing better, seeing more traffic in the store. Trends are all over the place - it just depends on the client. Do we anticipate a change after the election? Everybody keeps saying that with a change of the administration you'll see more people buying as they're moving in or out, but after years of living and working in this area, we've never really seen it happen that way. - Rachelle Roth, Urban Country, Bethesda, Md.

WE'VE BEEN IN business for just three years, and have come to High Point every market. We have a store with some partners, and we do architectural and interior design. Vicki also has a building company, so we have a lot of projects where we get to do the architecture and then finish off with all the interiors. It's very satisfying because you get to see the job, the vision, come to completion. Plus, we get to furnish the store with stuff we know we're going to need for our job. Our partners are big antique-ers. They hunt all along the North Shore of Chicago - going to estate sales at 5 in the morning to find one-of-a-kind pieces that make our projects so very unique. What do we think of the Antique & Design Center? It's awesome. We love it. And it seems to be getting bigger and better. It's definitely a great addition to the market. Last spring, we bought a great piece there for a client's pool house. Actually, it's because of the antiques and one-of-a-kinds here, along with the new, that we come to every market. We can get it all here. We like to mix it up with new, vintage ... it brings much more interest, a more eclectic feel to our projects. What products, trends do we like? We're only three years old, but every year we've grown dramatically. We started during a rough time. Our feeling was, if we could be successful in a recession, we could be successful at any time. We love what we do. Blogging, social media, Pinterest - all of it is important to our business, especially for branding. Plus, the amount of (design) information out there is sometimes overwhelming, and it's hard for people to sort through it -- proportion, scale, color, texture, balance, plus they don't have the resources. - Victoria Lidstrom and Carol Carani, Leggy Bird Designs, Libertyville, Ill.

Stephane, ColetteStephane, Colette and Eric Corbeil, Maison Corbeil

WE'RE BASED IN Ontario, and this is our first time in High Point. We've been in business for 13 years, doing residential design and concentrating in the higher- end market. It's the first time we've had the opportunity to come, but it's so important now because we're doing so many projects where catalog shopping is just not sufficient. The representation of stuff in Toronto is decent, but not amazing. There's so much to see here and we're a bit overwhelmed but, by and large, we're very impressed. The customer service is fantastic and our only obstacle is time. What do we like? Blues, transitional, clean lines, that one stunning piece, nothing overstuffy. And gold. I was just telling someone that I was never really a big lover of gold, but it appeals to us so much now because I think we're so over the bright silver accents. - Marc Mathevet and Jason Lyons, DFS Design, Mississauga, Ontario

WE'VE BEEN IN business for 14 years, and just moved from a 10,000-sq.-ft .space to a smaller boutique location in downtown Leesburg. Katie, our designer, owned Simply Sage Interiors. We worked together for about 10 years and, about three and a half years ago, joined forces. Yes, there are some equestrian and traditional tastes, but Loudoun County is such a fast-growing county that we also are seeing a lot of transitional concepts. We've been coming to High Point for 14 years. This market, we're looking for artwork. We don't really do trends - we've got a nice classic look going on that we like to freshen up a bit. About 90% of our furniture is American-made. Business is good, we're doing great in our new space, Katie's got a lot of design work; we've stepped it up a bit. - Katie Liverman and Debbie Mattens, The Guest Room Furniture Gallery & Design Showcase, Leesburg, Va.

WE'VE BEEN IN business for about 30 years, and have four stores, about 45,000 square feet, in Montreal. We sell furniture and accessories and specialize in more contemporary and high end. We've been coming to High Point for 25 years, and buying from this showroom (Moe's Home Collection) for about six or seven years. This market, we're looking for contemporary, small-scale furniture, more color. The Trica Collection had some very nice things, and we liked some accent pieces at BDI. - Eric, Colette and Stephane Corbeil, Maison Corbeil, Montreal

IN PHOENIX, THE market is coming back slower than it is in other places. When I talk to customers, they tell me things they're doing things to refresh their homes - they're not buying the bigger investment pieces, but they're refreshing their accessories, lamps, draperies ... and rugs are really big. Several people have come to me and asked "How do I buy a quality rug?" I'm starting to put more and more of my time into my dad's business, Arthur Bailey (manufacturer of upholstered headboards), and I'm finding that I make a bigger impact, and get much more gratification, from this side of the business as opposed to retail. So we've been moving toward selling the headboards online and are teaching our clients how to do a headboard, a nice dust ruffle, a few accessories to change your bedroom. For me, the game change was when I went to Macy's Retail 101 workshop, the one I learned about in Home Accents Today, a couple years ago. While there, someone from Macy's asked, "Maria, what is your biggest challenge?" It's marketing. I'm an engineer and manufacturing is my thing. So they said, "What if we could put you in a position where you didn't have to worry about marketing anymore, and you could just focus on making your product?" Well, to me that was like an epiphany. - Maria Benson, Nyla Simone Home, Scottsdale, Ariz.

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