State News

Fewer people attend NC furniture market down since LGBT law

Posted November 28

— Fewer people are attending a world-renowned furniture market in North Carolina, where state law defines which bathrooms people can use and limits legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Attendance at the High Point Market's fall event dropped 2.4 percent compared to October 2015. The spring event also drew about 1,000 fewer registered attendees than in April 2015.

High Point Market Authority CEO Tom Conley didn't respond Monday when asked how much calls to boycott events in North Carolina over House Bill 2 are to blame.

The taxpayer-supported authority was one of the first North Carolina business groups to warn the law could hurt commerce. The twice-a-year markets together generate about $5 billion in statewide economic activity.

The 2015 fall market for wholesale furniture buyers and sellers had been the best in five years, so October's registered attendance of 77,036 is still strong, Conley said in a news release last week. It's nearly 1 percent higher than in 2014, he said.

The spring market held in April was marked by a social-media campaign urging a boycott after North Carolina lawmakers in March voided a Charlotte anti-discrimination ordinance and imposed the new rules statewide. Some of the roughly 20,000 retail and interior-design companies that usually attend the five-day event stayed away.

Buyers for Williams-Sonoma Inc. retail outlets, including Pottery Barn and West Elm, were among those boycotting in April; company spokeswomen did not respond to messages asking whether buyers attended last month's market.

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  • Don Fleming Nov 29, 8:26 a.m.
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    OK WRAL, where is your proof that the lower attendance is due to the "bathroom law"???? If you are reporting the facts let's really see them or is this an opinion article??? Did you interview the people who did not attend this year's market to "know" that that is in fact the reason they did not attend??? Maybe some of the people who didn't attend are still trying to repair their homes destroyed by the flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Maybe some of those that did not attend this year are the one's out protesting the election of Donald Trump. Maybe some of those that did not attend this year did not need any more furniture.
    It appears to me that an assumption was made as to why the attendance was down. Mr. Conley was wise not to respond to a question that can only be answered with speculation, assumption, and opinion.
    Please report the facts. Stop "spinning" sticky webs of deceit.