As predicted in my pre-show column, there was a bolder banner waving across the board at last week’s High Point Market celebrating designs that were made in America. From Vaughan-Bassett’s prominent red-white-and-blue signage outside IHFC to the Made in America Pavilion within the Suites at Market Square, product of patriotic provenance was proudly touted.
Perhaps because I was perceived to have joined the bandwagon with my previous remarks about this movement, people shared other viewpoints with me while I was at the show. Many companies with U.S. roots who now manufacture their products elsewhere took issue with all of this domestic chest thumping. One person I talked to said it was the home furnishings equivalent of “freedom fries,” creating unnecessary negative connotations for product of foreign origin.
Lines that may have moved production overseas still have offices here that employ plenty of Americans — in all-important administrative, sales, marketing and customer service functions. It could be argued also that those that did so to maintain price competitiveness are helping more Americans afford lighting and other categories.
The way I see it: Unless a product is manufactured with offensive labor or environmental violations, where it comes from is less important than where it ends up. We all want to see more products selling through at retail right now and finding their way into consumers’ homes. Made in America is resonating with a growing portion of the population, so it only makes sense to reference that fact where it’s applicable as a selling point — just as you would if a design’s style or finish were totally on-trend.
What made me prouder than seeing stars and stripes was to see the higher traffic, bigger buying and exciting introductions that — along with simply spectacular weather — gave High Point a palpable positive energy. Several exhibitors cited that this was their best market since 2006. God bless America, indeed!