Once upon a time, 25 years ago to be exact, a furniture dealer in Olympia, WA was beginning to think about the future of his family business. Concerned about how his five children, ready to take on part of the business, would help the company adapt to the ways of future retail shoppers, this man engendered the idea that we now know today as the Next Generation Now community.
Part of the Home Furnishings Association, Next Generation Now (NGN) was born to assist the sons, daughters, and key managers in becoming the future leaders of their family’s furniture business and taking the charge of innovation for the next generation of retail.
Over the last 25 years, NGN has aided in the development of young professionals to succeed and excel in the industry–helping these new leaders blaze a trail of innovation for the home furnishings industry to stay above the noise of “sexier” industries.
MicroD had the incredible honor to sponsor a Next Generation Now event at the High Point Market on October 24th. A key group of excited individuals in the home furnishings industry gathered in High Point for an adventure they would not soon forget.
Furnitureland South, located in Jamestown, NC, is the world’s largest furniture store. With over 1.3 million square feet of home furnishings-filled real estate, Furnitureland South is every retailer, designer, manufacturer, and home furnishings enthusiasts’ dream. Next Generation Now partnered with MicroD and Furnitureland South to provide a tour of the awesome facility for a bus full of High Point Market members. Many of the tour members had name recognition of Furnitureland South due to its sheer size and, more recently, for the Fish Tank Kings creation of the aquarium headboard built right in High Point for the reality show.
From floor to floor, the outstanding team of Sam Egan and Carolyn Rodda led eager industry professionals through the beautifully-designed maze of home furnishing items. It wasn’t long before something extraordinary like the aquarium headboard was long forgotten once we stepped into the first rooms. Sofas, rugs, accessories, and cocktail tables–Oh My! Carefully chosen pieces of custom-made furniture from over 1,000 manufacturers stimulated the senses of the 40+ tour guests. Gilligan had nothing on this 3-hour tour.
“If you can’t find it here, it probably doesn’t exist” says tour leader and sales educator, Carolyn. Custom furniture, outdoor furniture, and innovative design were some of the hot topics discussed as the tour moved through levels upon levels of the store. One popular stop, outside of the Starbucks and luxury mattress showroom, was the Trending space. A mixture of manufacturers are amalgamated to form the leading designs for today’s home furnishings shopper.
Designers, retailers, vendors, and admirers alike gleaned from the stimulating experience. By the end, everyone had a sense of awe and ammunition to take back in their professional worlds. Armed with more information, each of us can lead a more stable path for the future home furnishings consumers. We are happy to be blazing this trail with HFA, NGN, and the professionals at Furnitureland South.
We also left with a smile as we finally passed the headboard aquarium.