North Carolina Furniture Guide

The History of North Carolina Furniture

North Carolina is truly "The Furniture Capital of the World". But it has only held this distinction for the last 90 years. New York, Chicago and Grand Rapids were the dominant cities at the turn of the century. As late as the 1890’s, North Carolina’s furniture production had barely started. In the 1890 census only 6 furniture plants were counted in the state. These half dozen factories located in Goldsboro, Charlotte, Mebane, Ramseur, Lenoir and Asheville employed a scant 182 men. From this inauspicious beginning, North Carolina has grown to dominate the furniture industry.

The northern furniture manufacturing centers lost their dominance as the 19th century ended. The 28 furniture plants of Boston in 1875 had dwindled to 6 by 1900. The vast hardwood forests of central and western North Carolina were logical areas for the furniture industry to prosper. High Point was an early center of this southern growth; and, in the first years of the new century, furniture companies were opening almost every month in High Point.

Competition between these new companies was fierce, mainly due to the lack of an industry-wide marketing system. Furniture was one of the few items that salesmen could not take from town to town to sell. The product was too big! Furniture store owners were forced to come to the factories and visit each plant to make their selections. The inefficiency of showing a furniture line to one dealer at a time was finally solved with the market-exposition idea.

The first furniture exposition was held in New York and later in Chicago. North Carolina manufacturers attended some of these events but eventually decided that a southern exposition would better serve the North Carolina furniture factories. The first North Carolina furniture exposition was held in High Point in 1905. These “markets” were then held sporadically until 1921 when a permanent building was built. The 1920’s also saw dramatic progress in western North Carolina’s furniture industry.

The end of World War II brought the greatest demand for furniture that the country had ever experienced. Home building increased by 300% and new furniture was needed throughout the nation. This fantastic demand for furniture was primarily answered by the North Carolina manufacturers.

Today, the High Point area is the prime location in the United States
to buy famous name brand furniture at substantial savings.

NC Furniture Guide | History of NC Furniture Industry  

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