Ah, Furniture Market - that special time of year when 70,000 visitors flood the streets of my adopted hometown, transforming sleepy little High Point into a bustling Metropolis. It might mean a billion dollars for the local economy, but for the TV stevedore it means schlepping gear through packed city streets, searching for imaginary parking spaces, and dealing with a populace that really doesn’t want you around. It’s kind of like being a contestant on ‘The Amazing Race’, without the possibility of winning a million dollars in the end.
Technically speaking, Market hasn’t even begun yet. The real fun begins on Thursday when the full contingency of buyers, sellers, and a fair amount of ne’er-do-wells flood the city’s 11 million square feet of showroom space. But one stop-and-start voyage down a stranger-choked Main Street and even the rookiest of news chasers knows something’s already up in Furniture City. Take today for instance. No sooner had I accepted my assignment of staggered pit stops around the downtown area, when hallmarks of Furniture Market began appearing in my peripheral vision.
Like when I paused three seconds too long at an intersection only to have a dozen car horns erupt behind me. Can I help if it a group of Scandinavian stewardesses across the street needed my full visual attention? Sheesh! Or how about the way that parking attendant got all pissy with me when I told him I wasn’t paying ten dollars to leave my news unit in his care? I think I totally befuddled him when I told him I’d only be ten minutes and then walked away. I was more than a little relieved to see my ride still unmolested when I emerged from the building an hour later.
But darn it - I wouldn’t have been so long had I not fallen victim to another Market Hazard: The Excitable Sale Rep. This overdressed specimen can be found lurking in most any showroom, and while his bite isn’t lethal, he can chew up the better part of a morning showcasing the latest in fine home furnishings. Despite the fact my eyes kept glazing over, today’s Account Executive walked me through ever piece of the Plaid and Burlap Collection. Of course I oohed and ahhed at every dramatic pause, hoping my new best friend would indeed win that trip to Cancun for impressing the local media - even if the cameraman in question thought every piece in the entire showroom should be immediately burned and buried for the betterment of family rooms everywhere.
But alas, these rituals are but a sign of things to come. Over the next few workdays I’m sure to find myself ensconced in all kinds of Market Madness - from dealing with the entourage of C-list celebrities to showing my press badge to every rent-a-cop with a mace bottle to circumnavigating a sea of over-cologned furniture weasels in thin black socks. It’s almost enough to make this aging lenslinger wish for some fluttering crime tape to baby-sit. Almost.