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: Market question  ( 1143 )
65Buick
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« : July 11, 2016, 01:20:27 PM »

Hi all,

I find good, solid furniture like chairs and re-upholster them using my own knowledge of design, fabric, etc. I judge what people might like, the same way businesses do when they mass-market.

My question is which was to go about finding my consumer. I want to pick a way and stick with it. The reason I don't upholster 'on commission' is because of time constraints that are beyond my control.

I've identified that I could email or contact several local and reputable decorator/designers and indicate that my finished work is for sale. I don't really know specifically what kind of pricing I would do, except that I put a few hundred into a piece, i.e. a chair, and would like to make that back plus some profit.

Other online venues such as craigslist, ebay, etsy, etc. I don't believe are good resources.

I did make a little online site that I could direct serious people to, but again, I'd prefer to use one method so that I make a little repertoire.

Thanks for the advice.
kodydog
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« #1 : July 11, 2016, 08:28:26 PM »

It sounds like your doing this part time as you find time. So spending countless hours to build an online presence would not be worth it. Creating a Google, Yahoo or Bing page would not be worth the time it takes not to mention all the other business pages like Houzz, Yelp, Yp or Square One.

I'm wondering why you are opposed to craigslist, ebay, etsy, etc. I understand the spam and scam pitfalls but there is plenty of info online how to avoid these.

My wife and I have bought many pieces from antique and thrift stores, fixed them up and resold them on craigeslist. Just gotta watch out for the scammers. Like the military guy getting ready to be deployed and wants to buy your furniture "sight unseen".

Good luck.

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html
sofadoc
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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.


« #2 : July 12, 2016, 09:37:04 AM »

Many "flippers" use a Facebook business page as their virtual storefront to display their items for sale. The trick is to get people to like your page so that they will get a notification every time you post a new item.

If you can post a daily blog that is interesting enough, viewers will keep checking in on a regular basis.

I don't really think that there is any single method that you can solely rely on. I think you need a combination of all the methods mentioned.

Flipping furniture is a hard hustle. Not for the faint of heart. I tried it many moons ago before Al Gore invented the internet. I had zero success. I expected customers to beat my door down and pay me top dollar. It didn't work out that way.

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
65Buick
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« #3 : July 12, 2016, 02:53:38 PM »

Thanks to sofadoc & kodydog.

I think what I'm hearing is that I should sell anyone who will pay, and forget the repertoire.

Also, I'm beginning to realize it won't be easy, I always seem to pick the hardest things do in life for the least money.

sofadoc
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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.


« #4 : July 12, 2016, 04:46:04 PM »

I'm not saying that it can't be done. Kodydog mentions that he's had some success. It's a different world now from when I tried it. With websites and social media, there are many more avenues available to make yourself and your products known.

This Facebook group has many flippers. You might get some better feedback as to how successful flipping is nowadays.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/344139459006836/

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
kodydog
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« #5 : July 12, 2016, 08:46:12 PM »

 Repertoire is nice, in fact its great, but it takes time and experience to build one. How much time depends on you and your ability to sell your product. When it comes to reselling furniture we learned the hard way, trial and error. What we have learned is some pieces, like wing chairs, just take too much labor to reupholster and resell. Especially to a market who is comparing your prices to store bought wing chairs. Antiques are unique in that you cannot buy an antique at a furniture store. But still, your just starting out and you will have a hard time selling a restored antique wing chair for more then $1000. Once you get your reputation out there you could ask much more then this. Another big factor is where are you located. An antique wing chair will sell much quicker in Charleston SC compared to Helen Ga.

It all boils down to how much ambition you have. My wife and I do it as a complement to our upholstery business. If we did it full time we would probably starve.

When we lived in Charleston SC there was a place called Pages Thieves Market. It was owned by a brother and sister and set up in an old barn type building. Every weekend the place was full of people buying old stuff. And every weekend they had new inventory to stock it. They hustled and built a profitable business.  


You will learn what sells and what doesn't. We have learned over the 25 years in business that you must buy cheap.  And you must scrutinize it closely to see how much work it will need. Does it need all new padding? How is the finish? How are the joints and springs? All these things take time to repair. And of course you have to consider your skill level. Can you reupholster a wing chair in say 3 days. Or will it take more like 2 weeks?

Here it a perfect example of a chair that was cheap and easy to upholster. We saw this retro chair at a yard sale. But we passed when we saw the price. Later, just by chance we drove by the same house. The yard sale was over and the chair was sitting out by the curb. My wife ran up to the house and asked if we could have it. They were glad to get rid of it. So, a chair like this is extremely easy to upholster. Just a deck and two cushions. We decided to keep it but I'm sure we could sell it for $200. We got the chair for free, 6 hours labor and we used a leftover remanent to cover it.



Another thing to consider is your location. Antiques were hot in Charleston. When we lived near the ocean we sold some wicker pieces. Now were in a collage town. We have this 3 piece sectional with hide-a-bed by Norwalk we will put on craigs list in August when the new semester starts. Asking $595. Sounds cheap and it is. We got it dirt cheap. It didn't need any new padding, frame work or spring work. No welts on the entire piece. Simply take the old cover off and replace with a remanent. We're not making a killing here but daddy and mommy will be more then happy to buy this for their angels new apartment.


 

« : July 12, 2016, 08:57:15 PM kodydog »

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html
gene
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« #6 : July 13, 2016, 07:07:28 AM »

My two cents regarding "flippers".

There is too much cheap furniture that looks good out there. I don't think a flipper can compete with this part of the market on price. The initial cost, labor, materials, time invested in buying and selling, cannot compete with the cheap furniture on price.

If flipping was easy and profitable every upholsterer would be doing it. Upholsterers would never have any down time.

Selling to interior designers is difficult in that you want to add your mark up and the ID adds their mark up and you are now close or over the cost of new furniture and the ID can make more money selling new furniture than your flipped furniture.

I sat down with an ID a few years ago to look at flipping furniture. The numbers did not look very good.

I did have two IDs who were buying second hand furniture that I was reupholstering. This ended with the last bed bug fear mongering by our news media several years ago.

Finding a market niche may be the only feasible approach. KodyD seems to have found one with selling to college students. That, by the way, is a great idea.

You also have the problem/cost with warehousing items that do not sell immediately.

I wish you the best! There are so many great furniture frames out there that make their way to the land fill.

gene





QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!
sofadoc
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All types of upholstery.....except cars and boats.


« #7 : July 13, 2016, 07:49:06 AM »

You also have the problem/cost with warehousing items that do not sell immediately.
The problem with trying to sell flip pieces, is that you must offer the customer a wide selection. They're less likely to choose one if you only have one or two choose from. Just like a furniture store has dozens or more to choose from.

And then you run into the problem that Gene mentions.......where to store the pieces that don't sell. The temptation to sell at below cost will arise.

The problem with flipping through ID's..........they expect you to do all the work for about a 10% profit while they make a 90% profit for literally doing nothing. 

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
kodydog
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« #8 : July 14, 2016, 09:57:18 AM »

I'm not real happy with my facebook business page lately. Facebook changed their format so when you post something on your page it does not get to all your followers. Facebook wants you to pay to"boost" your post and they often remind me of this feature through ads. Even though I'm still active it seems like lately if I get any responses at all its usually from my mom or my sister. Its only $5 to boost a post and they promise at least 300 post reach. I use to be able to get 100 or more post reach all on my own and my all time high was nearly 400 post reach. That was back in February. But now when I look at my stats it shows 17 post reach. Whats the deal with that.

I've been doing my best to keep all my online advertising at no cost. And most of the business pages offer this option including Bing and Google and of course they all try to get you to upgrade for a fee but I just ignore those. The way I look at it is the upgrade or boost will send advertising all over the US or even the world. This doesn't make since seeing my business area is about a 50 mile radius.

I can see a day when all these business pages charge a fee or give you a very limited reach.
« : July 14, 2016, 10:13:05 AM kodydog »

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html
SteveA
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« #9 : July 14, 2016, 03:17:04 PM »

Restoring furniture is both satisfying and educational for the craftsman so keep on.  The reason for doing it can go beyond financial gain. Doing it in your spare time makes perfect sense -  ...... Using remnants and padding that were throw aways even better. 
After you have 10 pieces or so ready for sale advertise in one of the on line Estate Sale sites for a Friday + Saturday sale - cash only.   Here in NY the crowds wait on line 2 hours before a sale opens their doors.  Some give out numbers.  Also people will see what you do and you'll give cards away.
The idea of finding someone who appears to be working under the radar is highly appealing to many even when they are paying the market price.
Good Luck,
SA
MinUph
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Mainly furniture. Tarpon Springs Fl.


« #10 : July 14, 2016, 03:23:46 PM »

I'm not real happy with my facebook business page lately. Facebook changed their format so when you post something on your page it does not get to all your followers. Facebook wants you to pay to"boost" your post and they often remind me of this feature through ads. Even though I'm still active it seems like lately if I get any responses at all its usually from my mom or my sister. Its only $5 to boost a post and they promise at least 300 post reach. I use to be able to get 100 or more post reach all on my own and my all time high was nearly 400 post reach. That was back in February. But now when I look at my stats it shows 17 post reach. Whats the deal with that.

I've been doing my best to keep all my online advertising at no cost. And most of the business pages offer this option including Bing and Google and of course they all try to get you to upgrade for a fee but I just ignore those. The way I look at it is the upgrade or boost will send advertising all over the US or even the world. This doesn't make since seeing my business area is about a 50 mile radius.

I can see a day when all these business pages charge a fee or give you a very limited reach.

Kody,
  Facebook has an option to boost to your local area only. So your 50 mile radius would work.  You gotta realize these sites FB, Google, Bing, all rely on advertizing and without it there would be no sites. I also try to keep my advertising budget at $0.00 but have tried FBs local one once just last week. It reached many many people I don't know if any called. And I only allowed a dollar a day for like 15 days. Just to try it out. I will try it again and ask people when they call where they got our name from to be better informed.

Paul
Minichillo's Upholstery
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gene
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« #11 : July 15, 2016, 06:57:47 AM »

A great idea that I had, which by the way, seems to be the nature of all my ideas, is this:

I find a unique piece of furniture.
Take pictures of the furniture as is.
Take pictures showing the steps in stripping the furniture down to the wood frame.
Take pictures showing the steps in rebuilding: 8 way hand tied springs, new cotton/padding, new foam, new everything.
Cover the piece with muslin.
Show pics on a web site.
Show price of labor to reupholster plus "X" number of yards of fabric needed.

I haven't found a piece yet that I can get cheap that will allow me to charge enough to make it worth my time and effort. At this point in time I would email to existing customers. I do not yet have a web site nor am I on facebook.

And again, there is always the problem with not selling an item. What would I do, reduce the price to just get rid of it so I don't have to warehouse it, or hang on to it???

gene
« : July 15, 2016, 06:59:26 AM gene »

QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!
baileyuph
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« #12 : July 15, 2016, 07:19:16 AM »

Markets change and for several reasons.  Restoration work on about anything is in the pull back mode.  Old cars (interior/tops/etc.) were going strong some years ago, people were taking loans on home equity to get into the loop (they actually thought restoring an old car was a way to $$$$.  Many have been burned, etc.  Now, we have a younger market and their attitudes are not the same.

A shop today would be better off to do small jobs or whatever and get the money this week
or when it is picked up by the owner.

There is more money in catering to what the market wants, new this cheap and new that cheap or professional services for their pets, etc.  You get the drift.

Doyle

65Buick
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« #13 : July 15, 2016, 03:27:07 PM »

Thanks to everyone for their input..

I see a long and difficult road ahead. Ask I can really hope is that some people start to see value in hand-crafted local goods.

I personally buy US made tools whenever possible. I know there are folks who appreciate quality, not imported junk.

But yes, I have already had my fair share of 'I can buy that new for cheaper!'
kodydog
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« #14 : July 16, 2016, 09:03:40 AM »

A great idea that I had, which by the way, seems to be the nature of all my ideas, is this:
gene

The problem with ideas is you never know if their great or not until you try it. The difference between a sucessfull businessman and a unsuccessful one is a successful one has failed many times.

Here is another idea to add to your list; pay $200 to attend an antique show. Load all your stuff into your van and a trailer. Drive 90 miles, unload and set up your booth, spend all day talking to possible customers. Either spend the night in a hotel or drive home, get up the next morning and spend another day talking to potential customers. Load everything back into the van and drive home. We have done this twice. And although we didn't achieve our first goal, to sell a lot of furniture, in fact we barley broke even but we handed out cards to anyone who showed the slightest interest and picked up some new customers.



This picture was taken in 2011. Of all the furniture shown all we have left is the gray chair to the left and the green chair to the right back. Once again we're not making a killing on this stuff but I do it in my spare time or when were going through a slow time. This way when we sell a piece it is a nice little bonus.
 
 
« : July 16, 2016, 09:16:49 AM kodydog »

There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html
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