Find out how HFA’s Retailer Resource Centercan help improve your business
Good luck catching up with Joe Critelli at High Point Market. With so many showrooms to visit Critelli, like so many other furniture retailers, has a packed schedule, one that has him on the run, showroom to showroom, from morning to afternoon.
But Critelli knows Market is more than just buying. He makes a point every spring and fall to stop by the Home Furnishings Association’s Retailer Resource Center (RRC). There Critelli can catch up on the latest technology that’s important to running an old-fashioned furniture store in a digital world. As Critelli tells it, buying product is only a piece of the chaos that is High Point Market. “I always come away from market smarter than when I arrived.”
Critelli has been a part of Critelli’s Fine Furniture for 37 years, the last 27 years as the third-generation owner of a store in St. Catharines, Ontario. He’s seen the need for his store to advance with the times and knows that today’s retail technology can help him get there. “I’m a firm believer you can never be smart enough in this business,” he says. “Our industry will never become less competitive than it is today. That means if you’re not moving forward, you’re really moving backward. These (RRC) seminars keep me moving forward.”
The Retailer Resource Center, or RRC, offers retailers like Critelli a busy week of technology-inspired seminars. On any given day at market, retailers can drop by the RRC and learn how to develop an e-commerce strategy, analyze what digital advertising play is best for their market, or gain insights into the way online searches are changing for consumers (hint: think Siri, Alexa, Google Now and Cortana).
“It’s really a lot like a small university,” says Critelli. “Except instead of a semester everything is packed into a few days.”
Critelli says his store is a lot like other furniture stores. “We desperately need to catch up with technology,” he says. “I think we’re missing out on so much that can help make our jobs easier, our businesses more profitable.”
Matt Huber of Belfort Furniture couldn’t agree more. Huber said furniture retailers are slowly realizing that the tipping point for furniture retailers is here. “Actually, that point has been here for quite some time now,” he says. “There’s so much out there our store needs to take advantage of. To a degree we are, but not nearly enough.”
That’s where the RRC comes in. With more than three dozen vendors and four days of seminars, furniture retailers leave High Point with more than just new purchases. They leave with ideas and strategies they can quickly apply to their stores back home.
That’s the goal behind the Home Furnishings Association, the only nationwide association focused on the needs and interests of furniture retailers. The association’s RRC is open to members and non-members alike. “We know how busy a retailer’s life is. Sometimes education can fall through the cracks so we try to make it easy and accessible through our monthly webinars and seminars at the RRC,” says Sharron Bradley, HFA’s CEO. “Retailers have enough on their mind. Finding time to learn and grow their business shouldn’t be one of them.”
The HFA’s Retailer Resource Center is located on the first floor of Plaza Suites and is open to retailers from Saturday to Wednesday during High Point Market. The Association also runs an RRC at the Las Vegas Market, B1050.