Just a speculation, the baby boom is in the midst of downsizing. They have houses full of furniture collected over time. They are giving it away to move to retirement suites or apartments. I went to an auction recently and watched as lot after lot of dining and living room furniture went for $10. No one wanted it.
Pat - There are a few things that have happened - as usual, not just one cause.
The American Furniture industry moved offshore to the delight of shareholders and owners. Owners got the financial rewards for selling or offshoring, and did not have to work anymore. No more pesky employees, just marketing ever cheaper product. The public loved it.
The resulting products that came back into the US were 1/3 the cost of their predecessors. When I started in 1990, there were some Henredon Mahogany tables that sold for 12,000 to 14,000 (1990 dollars). Once they went offshore and came back, they were about 5,000. This destroyed the craft makers of furniture since the competition was so cheap. They had to move up to 'art', or sell 'American Made', or go to something else (I went to architectural).
As for Unfinished Furniture, it used to be a market segment. Bottom feeder for sure, but shops in Tenn. or Ga could crank the stuff out, and it was priced right. Ikea killed them. Why would you go to the trouble of finishing it yourself when you could get it from Ikea in any of 2-5-8 finishes, no mess, and still cheaper!
No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American People was proved over and over again. We export first our jobs, and now our materials, all so we can pay less than $29.00 for a side table.
I agree with Tom G. I cleaned out my Mom's house, and 10 months latter her assisted living apartment. Salvation Army was very picky about what they would take from her home. This time, they would not even accept furniture, they are full up. I know this is different that the discussion, but it has to mean something when you can't even give away furniture. Grandchildren didn't even want it! Only thing in demand was what I made her.
One other thing occurs to me is the Kijiji effect. We live in a time you can post an add for free that will be seen by tens of thousands. The stigma of buying used has been removed. I know this argument contradicts what I wrote earlier about no one wanting old furniture but for some sectors of the market Kijiji and Craigslist is their first stop. I see them as the former target of a unfinished furniture company. BTW we used to have three such outlets in Ottawa, I don't think there is one left.
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