When talking to people in the furniture business, they will often tell you the capital of furniture in the United States is North Carolina. Some cities have attempted to lay claim to this title, based on wood or leather furniture production, but in terms of sheer volume, the number of businesses operating in the industry, and numerous other factors, no other state comes close to what North Carolina produces. So how did this all come to pass, and what is the furniture capital of North Carolina? Here is everything you need to know about the topic.
How North Carolina Became the Furniture Capital of the United States
During the early portion of the 20th century, the United States had fallen back into The Great Depression. During this time new furniture was not a necessity. Only the wealthy purchased new furniture, so heavy production was not needed. This trend continued into the late 1930s.
At the turn of the decade, the United States found itself in the middle of World War II. Nearly all heavy manufacturing plants transitioned into producing goods for the war effort. In the North and Midwest, automotive manufacturing plants produced tanks, jeeps, and other vehicles of war. Plants in other locations produced uniforms, medical supplies, ration packs, and other goods.
By 1945, the war had come to a close and members of the military were coming back in flocks. The country was out of the Great Depression and millions of people were now looking to buy new homes. With the purchase of new homes, people also needed furniture to go into these new homes. However, there weren’t many locations that could handle the production required to quickly produce quality furniture for the American household.
Manufacturing plants in Michigan and Ohio returned to producing cars. Pennsylvania started to produce steel for industrial work. Indiana, New York state and other industrial locations began focusing on the return to normalcy as well. However, there was an opening for production in the Southern states. Cotton and other textiles had long been a natural resource throughout the South and Southeast. Clothing production was a major industry in the region due to this. However, North Carolina proved to be a desirable location for furniture production thanks to not only its proximity to textiles but to trees and cattle ranches. So, in 1945, the furniture manufacturing industry in North Carolina started to take off, and within the next 15 years, the state quickly became the furniture producing capital of the country.
Another factor that helped with its manufacturing was its geographical location. Centrally located on the East Coast, North Carolina could ship to New York City or Miami easily. It wasn’t far to transit goods to Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago, Kansas City, and other major metro areas. Plus, with the ever-expanding Interstate system, sending goods across the country had never been easier or more affordable.
The Furniture Capital of North Carolina
If you’re from outside the state of North Carolina you probably haven’t heard of the town of High Point. When looking over the map it just looks like any other drive-through city that you might not think twice about when driving south to Florida or on any other road trip. However, for those in the furniture business, or those in North Carolina, they know that High Point is the true capital of furniture not only in the state but in the country.
High Point isn’t exactly super tiny. It does have a general metro area of about 100,000 people. There are some schools and medical facilities, which you’d expect from a region of its size. However, High Point has thrived in the furniture industry for decades now, and it has become the major industry in the city. The region brings in about $140 million in furniture revenue and the associated industries that support it (including some dining and hotels that house visitors who spend a few days shopping for furniture). That lump sum is sizable for a city of its size.
High Point, North Carolina
The city of High Point didn’t just come out of nowhere. While it exploded onto the scene post World War II, it had been a furniture destination, in some shape and form, for years. The very first furniture production facility in the city started up in the 17th century, thanks to all the forestland surrounding the region. New English settlers who came over and wanted to continue their craft often moved to this region to do so. Other cities in the Northeast were expanding too quickly and did not have the same kind of access to readily available forests.
Before the Civil War, the Southern Railway made it easy to produce wood chairs and other furniture for shipment to the North. However, this fell through during the war (the Union army took full command of the northern railway stations and the national government mandated all train schedules, while the individual stations ran the Southern Railway, which caused all kinds of shipment problems as the schedules were not well regulated).
Eventually, things settled down post Civil War and High Point continued as a major furniture producing city up until the market crash of 1929. It then started producing massive amounts of furniture again following WWII.
Your New Furniture Awaits In North Carolina
If you’re considering new furniture, the place to be in North Carolina. With more volume, stores, and options than any other state per capita, you’re not going to find this kind of local selection anywhere else. And now that you know the answer to what is the furniture capital of North Carolina, you’ll be able to take the drive up, or even spend a weekend shopping for furniture. Whatever you decide to do, if you need assistance with trends, tips, and styles, make sure to check out North Carolina Furniture. Here you’ll find a wide selection of furniture displays and designs that will surely fit your individual needs.