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I noticed a local furniture store that sold unfinished furniture closed recently, they had been at that location for 50 years.
A furniture manufacturer closed about 6 months ago. At their peak they did about 40 million a year. They made traditional bedroom furniture.
I notice the tract jobs are using slab doors that are white or wood melamine or shaker doors that are so opaque that you can't even tell the doors are wood. All the counters are quartz.
Do some/most of these failures come from a style change?
If offshoring was the reason it would have happened a long time ago.
The only thing constant is change. Adapt or die...
If the unfinished furniture store had transitioned into Ikea style RTA products, they might have survived.
For the last year, most of my shop's output has been finished in black, white, or various shades of gray. Five years ago those finishes would have been less than 10% of our total.
15 years ago, I had 2-3 guys working exclusively producing a product line that I couldn't even give away now. The machinery used for that just collects dust now...
Thanks, call me anachronism, what does that mean for Tim?
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.
If offshoring were the reason these stores and manufacturers would have been gone a long time ago.
What makes sense to me is what Duster says.
Some of the Boomers are downsizing but it seems to me that styles/values/tastes have changed rendering the furniture less valuable.
I guess Tim is not talking to me anymore? I would like to hear his take on this.
Boomer kids are finally upsizing, buying homes, expanding homes and families, millennial's are saving more money than their parents and spending differently.
Maybe the store closed because they couldn't find a buyer and someone retired.
Maybe the furniture factory wasn't make much money and decided to sell.
Colors from a few tracts reflect the move to neutral colors that are easy to design around or focal colors or maybe the vendor they chose has 4-6 colors.
None of these anecdotal items are enough information to determine a trend, cause or reason without more research.
Yeah maybe, neither company shut down because of retirement. The color/style thing is based off of a large sampling in So Cal.
Your last point is because there has been a surge in millennials who have reached the home buying age, nothing else.
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.
That alludes to styles/taste has changed.
Which is my thesis.
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.
The Furniture Wars: How America Lost a 50 Billion Dollar Industry by Michael Dugan
Is the informative read on the offshoring and loss of an American industry. Beyond the anecdotes.
What is the thesis of this book Dave?
I just see this as an extension of trade.
In reality it boils down to something called comparative advantage which means you just focus on what you make the most money on and you get somebody else to do the stuff that makes you less profit.
It literally is what drives the world economy.
Oh look. It's 1 of the same old 5 discussions, between the same few guys, just in a different forum...