Hickory Furniture Mart Is a Destination Rich in HeritageHickory Furniture MartYou could spend several days shopping at Hickory Furniture Mart, where there are 100 different showrooms, outlets, factory direct outlets and private galleriesLocated at roughly the midpoint between the bustling metros of Charlotte and Asheville is Hickory, a city that has grown in recent years as both a tourist destination and desirable place to relocate. And it has managed to grow in appeal while maintaining much of the city’s charm and rich heritage, which many across the country know as an area that’s been home to iconic furniture makers and brands for more than a century.More than half a million people visit Hickory Furniture Mart each year alone, thanks to its reputation as a shopping destination where you could spend several hours or several days. There is a lot to explore across the four levels of indoor and outdoor furnishings, lighting, rugs, accessories, and thousands of fabrics to custom design any piece of furniture, bedding ensemble or window treatment you desire. The 1,000-plus manufacturers represented here are spread across 100 different showrooms, outlets, factory direct outlets and private galleries.You will find the full furniture spectrum from country to contemporary styles and a combination of high-end custom showrooms along with high-end factory outlets not found anywhere else. Browse through displays of deeply discounted samples, floor models and clearance items, or customize that perfect piece. With so many deals under one roof, you may need to spend more time inside each showroom than you had originally planned.photo credit: Hickory Furniture MartShowrooms have experienced sales staff and interior designers to assist youPrior to arriving at Hickory Furniture Mart, scour the showrooms and outlets’ websites, all of which are linked from the Mart’s website. Many list current inventory – which changes often – special events and services.Experienced shoppers will tell you that it is wise to bring photos, measurements and a floor plan of the rooms you will be decorating. This information will ensure your selections fit, and prove to be helpful to the showroom designers and sales staff that assist you. If your project is larger in scale, consider investing in some one-on-one time with a seasoned professional interior designer. Designing Women has been working with visitors inside the Mart for more than 20 years and has designed some of the finest homes around the world.Do not give up on a piece that is close, but not exact. It is amazing how far showrooms are able to go in order to customize pieces in your favorite wood, stain, finish, upholstery, trim, color or even build a piece to match your specific dimensions from the ground up. Resource Design, a fabric, drapery and hardware workroom, is also able to customize pillows, window treatments, and bedding ensembles from thousands of available fabrics on-site. The service also partners with local upholstery experts to reupholster your favorite piece of furniture that has withstood the test of time, but needs a fresh look.photo credit: Hickory Furniture MartGet furniture customized in your favorite wood, stain, finish, upholstery, trim or colorOnce you have crossed everything off your shopping list, showrooms will consolidate your purchases and ship them to your home or other destination. Floor items may be taken home the same day.Stop by for a quick treat at Taste Full Beans coffeehouse, or sit down and enjoy a leisurely lunch at The Wooden Spool Café. Both are located inside the Mart.Hickory Furniture Mart is open Mondays through Saturdays, and on select Sundays during sale events. And whether you need more than one day to explore the Mart, or you want to make this shopping destination part of a multi-day getaway, you should consider one of the Shop & Stay Packages. Choose from special rates at eight participating hotels, including two that offer discount cards for further furniture savings. While most are nearby, the Holiday Inn Express is on-site at Hickory Furniture Mart. A restful night is also the perfect start for discovering more of the city’s culture.Out On the TownSeveral great dining options await you within a few minutes’ drive from the Mart or your hotel.For fine dining, Youssef 242 is a longtime local favorite, where the menu is highlighted by fresh seafood and steak dishes, prepared with local ingredients, and paired with an award-winning wine list. The eatery also entertains with live music on Saturday evenings. Or delve further into the farm-to-fork experience to discover why Highland Avenue was named one of “The South’s Best Restaurants 2015” by Southern Living. And it is located at Hollar Mill, a restored former cotton mill that hosts special events such as a biweekly concert series.photo credit: VisitNC.comDowntown Hickory offers local shops, boutiques and restaurants, and hosts popular events throughout the yearTake a stroll through historic downtown Hickory for a quaint and charming experience. Here you will find Olde Hickory Station – housed in a former train station – that is both a restaurant and market that sells goods made in North Carolina, among other local shops. There is also the Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory Community Theatre and Catawba Science Center. Plus, downtown is full of seasonal activities, including the farmers market that’s open select days, April through November; and annual celebrations such as A Hickory Holiday in December, and the twice-a-year art crawl in the spring and fall.In nearby Conover, Rock Barn Golf & Spa offers a great his-and-her experience (or a fun outing for you and your best friends). Treat yourself to a full spa package, a couples massage, or simply a mani/pedi. And golf enthusiasts will look forward to booking a tee time at one of Rock Barn’s two courses, including one designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., which has hosted PGA Champions Tour events.Written by Pete M. Anderson for VisitNC.com, in partnership with Hickory Furniture Mart.