Most people outside the Piedmont, North Carolina, will not see the deserved and evocative profile of Mayor of Main Street Charles Simmons. Written by friend and former colleague Joe Carroll, publisher of Furniture|Today, the Simmons profile captures the cheerleading and joyful demeanor of a fine person.
Unfortunately, the profile is not online, so I have
presented most of it below, without intending to violate the copyrights of the
News & Record, which published the profile in the HomeLife Section D on
February 25. That’s where Joe Carroll’s Furniture Marketplace column usually
More than most High Pointers, Charles Simmons is
well-informed. He’s a voracious reader and, as Joe rightly declares, SeeMore is
a self-appointed ambassador to his beloved High Point. He’s never met a stranger.
Too many people might view SeeMore as just a
gadfly. Don’t dismiss him. He is a storehouse of insight and knowledge that
more people should adopt and honor.
Call him, he’ll be glad to speak with you,
Meanwhile, savor the excellent profile that Joe
At home, in Vegas or overseas, he watches out for High Point
High Point has its own self-proclaimed fan and goodwill ambassador.
Charles Simmons celebrated his 76th birthday last
month during the market inLas Vegas
because, like Everest, "it was there."
In truth, he went to Vegas because he wanted to see
for him-self what competition his beloved High Point is going to face.
I ran into him last week at
String & Splinter, a private club inHigh point, so named because its original
member-ship was largely made up of textile and furniture executives.
When not at the club, Simmons is often seen walking
up and downMain Street
Ever since he was "down-sized," as he
calls it, from United Merchants 26 years ago, the former fabric sales-man has
bought and rented property in downtown High Point, becoming a highly visible and permanent
fixture of the city.
It had been 14 years since Simmons last visited
Europe to attend the furniture and fabric shows in Cologne, Frankfurt and elsewhere.
A recent widower, he felt this was a good time to
see how business overseas has changed and just how exhibitors at these shows
felt about High Point.
First stop: Paris. Simmons saw very few American buyers and found the furniture too "continental" and "dressy."
He noticed exhibitors from countries he had never
seen in High Point, such as Tunisia, and
wondered if there was some way we could attract them.
At the textile show in
Frankfurt, he was impressed by how U.S.
and European fabric mills have been replaced with new players from India, Pakistan,
Last stop: Cologne, Germany,
where Simmons saw a lot of contemporary furniture.
The market hasn't changed that much in styles, but
the buyer mix is different. Cologne used to be the world's largest furniture market before High Point
It attracted buyers from every major country,
including the United States.
Now, those buyers prefer to shop at shows in Dubai and Shanghai.
The exhibitors in Cologne now look to the Russians to expand
One exhibitor told me the Russian buyers come with "suitcases full of cash, looking for a deal," and will pay on the spot.
Simmons sees High Point's size as both a strength and weakness.
The downtown market area has 10 big buildings and
250 small ones — more than 11 million square feet. These showrooms are not bankable
assets, however, particularly if the market were to move away.
Our exhibitors need more traffic and access to
Simmons suggests we work
to attract more manufacturers, both foreign and domestic, to build warehouses
in the Triad.
We are located in an ideal part of the country to
serve the entire eastern United
One person in Cologne told Simmons that if the best of the 5,000
furniture reps who come to High Point
would bring just one buyer to market, we would have a quantum leap in attendance.
I told Simmons that when I came to High
Point almost 30 years ago, I never dreamed it would surpass Cologne and Milan
to become the largest furniture market in the world.
He thought for a moment and said, "You never know when Mickey Mouse is going to become Disneyworld."