Learning & Crawling Together

Learning and Crawling Together-web

The Home Furnishings Association offers educational and social events for young retailers coming to High Point

The spectacle that is High Point Market – five days of fashion, furniture and a lot of walking in between – is something different for everyone. Most retailers show up with one goal in mind: to fill up their showrooms with the latest furniture and accessory finds. Home Furnishings Association member Bijan Lalji counts himself among those, but with a second, equally important goal in mind. He goes to market to learn.

Every market, Lalji and his brother Shane show up at the HFA’s Lunch with Leaders program, which pairs rising retailers like the Lalji brothers with seasoned veterans to break bread and talk shop.

“It’s probably the best part of market for me,” says Bijan, co-owner of Lalji Home in Coquitlam, British Columbia. “I still go around to market to see what’s new and what our customers might be interested in, but if I go to market and don’t take in a Lunch with Leaders, I feel the market wasn’t a success.”

This market’s Lunch with Leaders program takes place April 8 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the HFA’s Retailer Resource Center on the first floor of Plaza Center on Main Street. The lunch will feature HFA member Seth Weisenblatt as host. Weisenblatt recently sold his share of Sam’s Furniture in Fort Worth, Texas, and runs, Click2Store, which helps drive traffic to a furniture retailer’s store.

Weisenblatt believes the secret to both companies’ collective success can be traced back to his self-made acronym ART – Attention, Relevancy and Trust. He’ll be able to speak to all three topics or whatever is on the minds of Lunch with Leader attendees.

That’s one of the reasons the association’s Lunch with Leaders program has been such a hit over the years. Retailers can pick the brains of some of the industry’s smartest leaders. At recent markets, Lunch with Leaders speakers have included Eric Easter, CEO of Kittles Furniture; Jim Fee, president of Stoney Creek Furniture; Larry Klaben, CEO of Morris Furniture; and Michael Amini, CEO of AICO.

“You can go an entire year and never get these guys on the phone, but four days a year at every market you get to sit at a table with them and ask questions and take in all their knowledge,” Lalji says.

Lunch with Leaders isn’t the only event Lalji and other young retailers can look forward to at market. The association’s Next Generation Now is bringing back its popular NGN Crawl on April 6 to kick off the first day of market. NGN members, a mixed group of retailers 40 and under, will spend the night visiting four different furniture manufacturers’ showrooms after they’ve closed for the day. There will be drinks and snacks at each stop – as well as time for NGN members to talk and, maybe, help each other with issues going on in their stores back home.

The crawl is sponsored by the HFA, but NGN members do not have to belong to the association. HFA CEO Sharron Bradley says the Lunch with Leaders and NGN Crawl are designed with the future generation of retailers in mind. “The HFA is about helping all members young and old in the industry,” she said. “These are two important benefitsfor younger retailers to learn and grow not just their businesses, but themselves.”

For more information on the NGN Crawl, contact Kiara Stevens at kstevens@myhfa.org.

Want to sign up to attend the association’s Lunch with Leaders? Contact Kaprice Crawford at kcrawford@myhfa.org.

About the Author

Robert Bell
Robert Bell is Content Editor for the Home Furnishings Association. Email or call him with any news about your store, including expansion, personnel, successful initiatives—anything of interest to HFA members. He can be reached at rbell@myhfa.org or 916-757-1169.