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: An upholstery sales idea - for professionals only. Do not try this at home.  ( 2961 )
gene
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« : March 22, 2011, 05:55:12 PM »

I had an interior designer who would occasionally find an awesome upholstered piece of furniture at a thrift store, sell it to a home owner with new fabric. She would have me do the upholstery.

She stopped doing this last year when the main stream news media decided to use bed bugs for their latest fear mongering.

Anyway, I keep thinking about all those awesome pieces of furniture at thrift stores: hard wood frames, ornate wood designs on some of them, etc.

So, my idea is this: I buy one of these for $30.00 I take a picture of it as it is. I then strip it and take a picture of the frame only. I put it on my web site with details about the frame, what types of materials I will use to reupholster it, and my price plus fabric.

The worst case scenario is that I will loose $30.00, loose my time and labor to strip it, and I will have a frame hanging on my wall.

Maybe I would go up to 4 or 5 frames at the most until something sells.

Has anyone done this, doing this, or what are your thoughts about doing this?

Thank you for your replies,

gene

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sofadoc
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« #1 : March 22, 2011, 06:08:34 PM »

I have decorators who raid the thrift stores for pieces like that. I never thought about having a stripped-down frame advertised as "ready to upholster". People try to give me old frames all the time. If it's a nice piece, I let them unload it. I have a large store room where I can let customers browse the old pieces. When they ask "How much?", I tell them "If you pay me to re-cover it, I'll give you the piece free"
The only drawback I can see about your plan is:
Most people have NO imagination. They can't picture what it will look like.
But if your website shows the possibilities, it COULD work! Good luck.

"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban
MinUph
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« #2 : March 22, 2011, 08:19:07 PM »

sofadoc has a very good point. Without fabric on most consumers would look at it and say it's a wood frame! It would take a designer, or a good decorator to be able to see it in their minds eye.
  Maybe if you did it up in muslin it might help. I wouldn't do it in fabric because then you limit the idea to someone who likes the piece AND the fabric.
  Not meant to stifle the idea. So if you do it and it works let us know so we can copy  :P

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« #3 : March 22, 2011, 08:29:01 PM »

Sooner or later someone will make a program so the customer can virtually take the frame from bare bones to completion with just a few clicks.
This won't work with most furniture upholsterers though.
 Shouldn't we have flying cars by now?
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« #4 : March 22, 2011, 08:47:03 PM »


The only drawback I can see about your plan is:
Most people have NO imagination. They can't picture what it will look like.
.

Agreed. I worked in a furniture store for years.  100's of fabric samples and lees then a handful of people can really see what the end product would look like.

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JuneC
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« #5 : March 22, 2011, 09:51:36 PM »

Have you given any thought to an Etsy account?  Go to www.etsy.com and do a search for "furniture upholstered" and see what people have done.  Some of the products are very nice, and I have to believe, done by professionals such as yourself who have a "vision" when given a frame.  The quality does NOT look like DIY upholstery (but then, I do boat canvas).  Have a look and see for yourself if it might be a good marketing opportunity for the one-off stuff you come across.    Having said that, there are some awful pieces in there that DIYers have really made a mess of - especially diamond tufting gone wrong..... seriously wrong.

June
« : March 22, 2011, 10:13:23 PM JuneC »

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gene
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« #6 : March 23, 2011, 08:58:33 AM »

Thanks for your replies. It's always encouraging NOT to get a lot of "Been there, done that, don't waste your time". Although, if that's the case, I would still appreciate knowing it.

Taking a picture of the item before I strip it down was to help give the customer an idea of what it looks like upholstered. Taking a picture of the frame would show the customer that all the nasty fabric and stuffing is gone.

I will keep you informed.

I wish I lived in England so I could call the frame a 'carcass'. But then, folks might think I do taxidermy and I'd show up at my shop some day and a guy would be waiting for me with a dead moose. I'd ask him if he wanted me to put a faux alligator leather on it???

gene

QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!
Saddleman
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« #7 : March 23, 2011, 10:36:57 AM »

Gene,

I think it is a good idea.  My thoughts are take photos of the piece and then "photo shop" the photos to a few neutral colors.  Offer the item up for sell in a few selected fabrics to cover different color options.  Then stuff the piece in the store room without stripping or putting anymore work or dollars into it.    By offering preselected fabrics you are able to control the cost/profit of the job.

I have basically done the same thing with motorbike seats and it is working.

Loren


Loren
mike802
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« #8 : March 23, 2011, 11:19:21 AM »

I tried something similar to that years ago. I would get an old recliner, or sofa and reupholster it and then offer it for sale.  Most people thought of it as "used furniture" and I could not turn a profit.  In a few cases, I had to give it away to get rid of it.  People tend to reupholster on an emotional bases, they are attached to the furniture in some way and anything else is just used furniture.  Times are different today and in a different area it might work, but can you compete with your local furniture store?

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
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bobbin
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« #9 : March 23, 2011, 02:22:55 PM »

I like the idea, too.  But rather than thinking of yourself as being in competition with local furniture stores I think you ought to market your pieces to a more "artsy" crowd.  There are lots of people out there who don't want the manufactured stuff you find in furniture stores (I'm one of them!) and who would expect to pay a higher end price for something more interesting than the latest round of Henredon "Barbara Barry" (yawn).  I think working in concert with local interior designers could work well in this situation, and you'll know which ones would be receptive to this.  Maybe you let the designer sell the fabric and you get your dough by delivering a top notch upholstery job?  (this works for me with alteration work.  I don't try to compete with the local dry cleaners... I have forgotten more about tailoring than the people doing "fittings" there probably know.  I charge by the hour and if they don't like the price... b-bye). 

I know what you mean about "lack of imagination".  We don't value imagination and the loss of art and "shop" in school curricula only reinforces the lack of it.  Maybe developing a "resource library" of photographs of similar pieces would be one way to help a hesitant customer along.  You know how much you can tweak/massage a given piece into one "look" or another, but oftentimes a basic picture and then some added explanation is more than enough to get a customer thinking more creatively.  You need to figure out the easiest way to "hold their hand" and still keep them focussed on a result that you know you'll be able to "deliver" with minimal aggravation, thus greater profit. 
Darren Henry
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« #10 : March 23, 2011, 06:08:21 PM »

Check with your suppliers and see if any have this function on their web page.J.Ennis fabrics (they do have one U.S location---Indianapolis if I remember) let you drape fabric on a piece of furniture to see what it would look like. Pick a fabric and it shows you the details. Click on Drape this fabric on furniture and choose the frame style,; Poof,magic.

http://www.jennisfabrics.com/JEnnisFabrics/searchProduct.jef?MarketGroup=CO%2CHO%2CIN%2CMA%2CRE%2CTR&ABRASION=select&dropselect1=select&CONSTRUCTION=select&dropselect2=select&CONTENT=select&dropselect3=select&ECOFRIENDLY=select&dropselect4=select&FIRE+RETARDANCY=select&dropselect5=select&RAILROADED=select&dropselect6=select&STYLE=select&dropselect7=select&ULTRAVIOLET=select&dropselect8=select&USES=select&dropselect9=select&totalDrop=9&productName=&collectionList=--+Select+Collections+--&colorHide1=null&colorHide2=null&colorHide3=null&colorHide4=null&colorHide5=null&index=&colorSearchEvent=colorSrDone#

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