Arts & Culture
6:40 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Younger's Furniture Shines At High Point Market

Tens of thousands of furniture retailers, buyers and journalists from more than 100 countries are in High Point this week for the bi-annual High Point Market.  Those in the furniture industry say business is up this year across the country.   That is good news for a state like North Carolina that has been tied to the industry for generations.  Changing Economy Reporter Leoneda Inge visited a showroom in High Point that’s getting a lot of attention this year.

Younger Furniture was born and bred in North Carolina.  Today it’s the second generation of Younger doing the honors at the world-renowned Furniture Market.  Meredith Younger Spell is only 30-years-old and President of the company.  Her outfit is as bright as her personality as she greets US Senator Kay Hagan who is in town for a private furniture tour.

Meredith Younger Spell:  "Hi, Meredith Spell! Nice to meet you too.  Thanks so much for coming.  This is my father, Mike Younger."

Mike Younger started the contemporary Younger Furniture more than 20 years ago in Thomasville, North Carolina.  They design and make their furniture from start to finish.   Hagan likes that.

Kay Hagan:  "My four favorite words, “Made in North Carolina.”  And that’s what’s evident here."

Meredith Younger Spell says the company is enjoying all the attention being given to their newest line, called “Avenue 62.”  The mid-century sleek sofas and chairs in bright, bold fabrics are targeted to the young professional.   Spell says the look is taking off, but the question buyers ask most is  “where is this furniture made?”

Meredith Younger Spell:  "This trend started probably a few years ago, maybe three and a half years.  It’s the first question out of people’s mouths is “where is this furniture made.”  Whereas before, it might not have been in their top five or ten questions.  But it’s becoming to be more and more on their minds which is good."

And Senator Hagan says that translates into jobs, in an industry that has suffered a lot over the past two decades.

Kay Hagan:  "Once they make this product, once the buyers come in and they place their orders, then that’s when the factory workers are starting to work and get the shipments out."

There are reasons for the “Made in America” questions.  Tom Conley is President and CEO of the High Point Market.

Tom Conley:  "Cost is certainly one thing. The labor costs in China are going up.  Transportation costs are going up.  And I would like to think there is a certain amount of patriotism too.  That in fact, folks recognize that we are going to have to help ourselves to help our economy grow."

Economists say they also see a steady growth in the furniture industry, which is understandable since home sales are up and foreclosures are down.  Heinz Kattenfeld is the CEO of “220 Elm.”  There are 30 furniture showrooms in his building where 65 home furnishings companies share space.  He says the recession of 2008 plus the economic downturn was hard. But he sees a positive turn in business.

Heinz Kattenfeld:  "The last two markets, we’ve seen a steady improvement.  I think in terms of business, we’re going to see that again this market."

And he says furniture companies like Younger are doing especially well.  Younger’s “Avenue 62” has moved into the most visible showroom in the building, first floor, center.

Heinz Kattenfeld:  "This showroom looks the best I’ve seen it with the new Avenue 62 collection.  So I’m really impressed with the styling and the colors and the whole showroom just pops, it’s just a great impact when you walk into the building and you see the Younger showroom."

The High Point Market runs through Thursday.