The City of High Point, long known as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” is taking steps to transform its downtown – a downtown that in the past has largely been known for its furniture showrooms.  But something surprising happened in 2018: High Point’s downtown saw an influx of new furniture businesses and showrooms.

Though the city is trying to diversify its economic base – and it has had a lot of success in that regard in recent years – if 2018 is any indication, High Point is going to have a hard time escaping the orbit of the furniture market that the city has built up over the decades.

One of the main reasons High Point has been trying to attract new types of industry in this century is because some furniture companies had shut down operations or moved them oversees.  But, lately, there’s been no shortage of furniture industry growth in High Point.

Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning noted that it’s somewhat ironic that the city is building a new baseball stadium as the heart of a plan to reshape downtown, yet many of the announcements this year were from the furniture industry.

Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp. said the city is going after new investment of all types and added that the growth of restaurants, retail, manufacturing and showrooms is all a good thing.

“We take a multipronged approach,” Hill said of Guilford County’s economic development strategy.

The new showroom ball got moving in late 2017 when China-based Markor International Furniture Company began construction of a five-story 147,200-square-foot showroom and office building at 122 N. Hamilton St. for two of its subsidiaries – Caracole and ART Furniture. That $20-million facility should be ready for showroom use in time for the city’s next international furniture market in the spring.

In 2018, California-based Najarian Furniture Co., finished construction on and opened its 40,000-square-foot three-story building and showroom at 113 W. Green Dr.

Other companies have been adding showroom space to their existing operations in High Point as well: Parker House Furniture added a three-story, 30,000-square foot showroom on the 300 block of South Elm Street next to its existing showroom, and ECI, which specializes in bar, dining room and game room furniture, also opened a new showroom in High Point this year.

In addition, Indianapolis-based Holland House, a furniture industry wholesaler, built a new four-story 164,000-square-foot $10-million showroom wing that connects to the company’s building at 449 S. Wrenn St.

200 Steele, a High Point showroom used by multiple furniture brands, completed a large expansion for Century Furniture and for RHF Investments, which is 200 Steele’s parent company. That new 40,000-square-foot $8-million wing opened in time for the spring 2018 furniture market.