About half the time when I tell people that I’m from High Point, North Carolina, they will remark, “That’s the Furniture Capital of the World.” Yes, it’s true that my hometown has enjoyed that nickname for almost 100 years and has helped the otherwise unassuming city make a name for itself.
Following World War II, an estimated 60 percent of all furniture made in America was produced within a 150-mile radius of High Point. The weeklong semi-annual international wholesale furniture markets that have come to High Point my entire life has always meant extra income for many I know in the way of home rentals and part-time jobs created by the market. Because my dad worked security during the market, he frequently got first dibs on purchasing showroom samples at far below cost. These perks meant a steady parade of new dining room suites, bedroom suites and living room furniture made its way through our middle class home every few years. One of the biggest surprises of my adult life was realizing that most people live for decades with the same furniture! Trust me, it is simply because High Point is the Furniture Capital of the World that our family enjoyed the frequent switching out for newer styles.
High Point, a mid-sized city with a population of around 114,000 people, is part of a region in North Carolina known as the Triad. Greensboro and Winston Salem are the larger metropolitan cities in the three-city area, which collectively brings the Triad’s population to 1.5 million. Residents frequently travel between the cities for shopping, restaurants, work and entertainment. In recent years, the Triad has become a highly sought after location for both corporations and homeowners because of its central location. Charlotte is 1 ½ hours to the west and Raleigh, the state capital, is 1 ½ hours to the east. I can drive to Carolina Beach in 3½ hours and I can be in Asheville in 2½ hours.
As a high school graduate, I chose to go to college close to home, so I attended High Point College, a small United Methodist college of about 1000 students. Today, High Point University has more than 5600 students and is ranked No. 1 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Regional College in the South and No.1 for Most Innovative Regional College in the South. HPU has boosted the city’s economy and turned a sleepy local college into a vibrant presence in the Triad.
If you find yourself in High Point, first, I hope you’ll visit me. We have a family farm with a few cows, a giant garden and a pond for fishing. I guarantee we will find something fun to do!
For some non-farm fun, here are my favorites:
If you love pottery, Seagrove, with the nation’s largest concentration of working potters, is 30 minutes away. Within a 20-mile radius, there are 50 potters.
Nearby in Asheboro, is the North Carolina Zoo, the world’s largest natural habitat zoo with more than 1800 animals on 2600 acres. (Members of the Nashville Zoo can receive a 50% discount on the cost of admission by showing your member card as this is a reciprocal zoo partner.)
When the weather is nice, I enjoy kayaking at Oak Hollow Lake, located a few miles from my house. The 810-acre lake is part of a 1500-acre park that has campsites and two golf courses.
The area also has scores of parks, walking trails, theaters, art galleries and museums, including, of course, the Bernice Bienestock Furniture Library, that houses the world’s largest collection of books on the history of furniture and interior design.
If you’re going to enjoy only one meal in High Point, you have to go to Kepley’s for barbecue. It’s a Triad institution since the late 1940s, seats about 35, and you can still buy lunch or dinner for less than $10. I recommend the chopped BBQ sandwich, hush puppies and sweet tea. Then, if it’s after lunch, drive about five minutes to the Sweet Shoppe Bakery. Even if you don’t want dessert, just go to window shop and enjoy the heavenly aroma of fresh-baked sugary confections!
For years, I fretted that High Point wasn’t exciting enough, wasn’t cosmopolitan enough, wasn’t interesting enough. But now that I’ve returned, I appreciate all that High Point and the Triad offers, with the main part being that it’s home.
All images featured are courtesy of Crystal Caviness.