As some of you may have seen, last week, Urban Home traveled up to High Point Market. For those of you who don’t know much about it, High Point is about an hour and a half from Raleigh, North Carolina. It also happens to inhabit thousands of “tourists”, like our team from Urban, twice a year for market, turning the normally quaint small college town into a packed and eventful area.
For me, it was my first experience at Market. I was given warning to wear comfortable shoes and be ready to be a bit overwhelmed. Both of these statements were true. Designers, Store Owners, and Vendors have less than a week to meet, hit showrooms, and see what is new, while taking the time to write orders for the upcoming months. (Hint: you can expect new things in the next few months at Urban.)
Now, depending on the volume of your store, it can be quite the laborious task, including adding on and removing pieces as you work to meet a vendor’s quota and stay within your budget. This is where the role of a buyer comes in, and most buyers have done this many times and know what to expect. As I watched the process, and even though I had been taught in school the ins and outs of buying, I wasn’t quite prepared for this.
To say overwhelming—well, it doesn’t quite describe it. It’s a push and pull of gut instinct seeing what you love, following what your customers need, estimating what they are willing to pay for it. All the while staying true to your brand, but at the same time introducing your customers to something new. I’ll work on conjuring a word for that. After a full day of showroom after showroom, I began to question, what’s the point? Yes, I say that, but when you have so many options, many are quite similar, because its a world of brand vs. brand depending on price, make, and model-- I had to wonder, how do we, Urban Home Market, differentiate ourselves from everywhere else you shop?
It’s a difficult task, but as the week continued, I realized it came down to understanding our store, and also anticipating you--our customers! It is a challenge, but it’s possible. It was truly apparent with the long time buyers. Our team would select the same piece as a buyer from across the globe, but continuing through the showroom, we would turn one way, and the buyer from Shanghai would turn the other way, because we arrived with different goals. What we picked was with our customer in mind, and the product will end up being merchandized completely different from another store. And that’s the point. Even though we have the same chair or accessory, the pieces will be used differently. At Market, vendors are dispersing their products around the world, but that’s the beauty of it. Whatever piece we invest in will always be distinctively Urban Home Market’s.