Furniture markets have expanded from regional exhibitions to global centers of trade.

To borrow a line from Cole Porter, furniture has been an industry “since the Puritans got a shock when they landed on Plymouth Rock.” But it wasn’t until the late 18th century that the industry looked to reverse the trend of drummers selling their goods to stores, consumers, and buyers, and attempted to bring buyers to the goods.

The first furniture markets were little more than informal exhibitions. But in March 1891, The Grand Rapids Furniture Record reported that “a little band of far-seeing and progressive” men met to discuss a more formal exposition to give Eastern furniture manufacturers “adequate representation in the furniture market as a whole.” In July, the first exhibition of the American Furniture Manufacturers’ Exposition Association was held in New York at the American Institute, featuring 112 exhibitors and 1,132 registered buyers.

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