40 vendors fill new showrooms for High Point Furniture Market

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The High Point Furniture Market has been North Carolina’s largest single event in terms of people for years, but this year the market includes a new addition that has market-goers optimistic.

High Point’s Art, Antique and Design Center on West Ward Avenue fills a building that was empty last fall.  About 40 vendors now have showrooms inside the 120,000-square-foot facility.

John Aspley, the owner of the Design Center, said the newly-filled space is a sign of a comeback for the furniture market, which has lived through some hard times in its more than 100 years of existence.

“Tremendous amounts of companies have gone out of business and been wounded as I call it; and so have we've lost business,” Aspley said.

Aspley, who is originally from England, has been part of the furniture market since the 1990s.

“I think this year has a much better chance than previous years,” Aspley said.  “You’ve got all these vendors in here -- I'm sure if the vendors do well then they can semi-employ other people to do repairs or restore or upholster.”

The market has seen steady growth over the past few seasons -- something Aspley said he's noticed in his customers as well.

“Because of the recession we lost the middle ground, but we still had the upper ground,” Aspley said.  “Obviously the people who had money and the people that were getting hurt the worst is the blue collar and they are coming back.”

Aspley said he’s excited for the Design Center to become part of the furniture market’s comeback.

“We’ve hit the bottom and we've bounced, a little bit of confidence and then we're away--and it's going to happen,” Aspley said.

Friday marks the grand opening for market, while Saturday marks the official start.