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Journeys of Discovery: Reinventing High Point, North Carolina

12 year-old Tu Sen arrived in America from a Thailand refugee camp in 1986, clutching her treasured possessions wrapped in a cardboard box. Eventually settling in High Point, North Carolina, Tu worked in her family’s restaurant for 19 years before opening her own eatery, 98 Asian Bistro, five years ago. Correspondent Tom Wilmer visits with Tu Sen and meets with Patrick Chapin, CEO of High Point Chamber of Commerce, about the reinvention of downtown High Point.

At one time, 60% of all furniture made in America was produced within a 150-mile-radius of High Point. Even though most manufacturers are now based overseas, the town remains an international center, where designers from around the globe come together for the twice-annual High Point Furniture Market. According to the Chamber, more than 75,000 visitors attend the market events, with an economic impact of $6 billion per year.

High-end designers have purchased virtually all of the buildings in the heart of downtown for use as designer showcase venues. Even the old post office has been converted to a showroom. The downside of the designers’ presence is that High Point’s downtown buildings are shuttered for eleven-and-a-half-months of the year. But High Point does remain very much as the Furniture Capital of America with more than 50 showrooms, anchored by Furniture Land South--with 1.3 million Square-feet of showroom space open to the public.  

This show was originally broadcast September 23, 2019 and is reproduced as a Best-of-the-best" in celebration of Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer's 30th anniversary of creating on-air and podcast travel shows featured on NPR affiliate KCBX and NPR ONE.

You are invited to subscribe to the Lowell Thomas Award-winning travel show podcast, Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer, featured on the NPR Podcast DirectoryApple PodcastiHeartRadio, the NPR One App & Twitter: TomCWilmer. Instagram: Thomas.Wilmer. Member of the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Underwriting support provided by the Society of St. Vincent De Paul.


Tom Wilmer produces on-air content for Issues & Ideas airing over KCBX and is producer and host of the six-time Lowell Thomas award-winning NPR podcast Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer. Recorded live on-location across America and around the world, the podcasts feature the arts, culture, music, nature, history, science, wine & spirits, brewpubs, and the culinary arts--everything from baseball to exploring South Pacific atolls to interviewing the real Santa Claus in the Arctic.
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