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Could re-upholstery be making a comeback?

Started by Rich, July 08, 2013, 12:11:41 pm

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Rich

Check out this article that focuses on the re-use of products rather the replacement of them. You know, like it used to be.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-circular-economy-20130630,0,515157.story

Maybe what goes around comes around, only in a slightly different way? I think it's encouraging for upholstery shops.
Rich
Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!

Mojo

Thinking back, in the 60's and 70's and even into the 80's there was alot of good constructed furniture around that could be recovered. I used to see pieces at garage sales all the time. But it seems today that all that one could find is cheap Chinese furniture not worth recovering or rebuilding.

Not being in the furniture sector myself my question would be to those of you who are is there still well made furniture out there that can be easily found and is worth re-upholstering ?

Chris

baileyuph

The question was raised "is it worth reupholstering"?  Apply this question also "is it worth buying"?

Then, ask yourself "why do consumers in large numbers buy something not worth buying"?

The furniture today sold to the masses is not worth buying, it only works for small people who do not sit and use it all the time.  Today, so much furniture is used in a home by more than one family and used around the clock because many of these people are living off unemployment and do not want a job.  This style of life often leads to obesity and we all know what that can do to furniture, especially low quality constructed furnitue.

There are furniture manufacturers who can and do build good quality but it is in lower volume because of more than one reason:  (1)  Consumer prioritories (2) Consumer values (electronics is a higher value commodity these days) and (3)  Consumer ignorance (low understanding about what quality is).

Big screens and anything with a phone and a keyboard hooked to it are the values in consumerism.

Doyle

mike802

QuoteNot being in the furniture sector myself my question would be to those of you who are is there still well made furniture out there that can be easily found and is worth re-upholstering ?


It's out there Chris, but I don't think I would say it is easy to find.  Thrift shops and happen stance on the side of the road are the best bet in my area.  I have picked up several antique Rocco and Eastlake pieces on the side of the road for free over the past several years.  My guess is they got an estimate on reupholstery and decided to ditch it for a new "top of the line" plywood recliner. 

We just lost a local furniture store, still have two major ones left and a couple of furniture rental chains hanging on, for how long I cant say.  People in my area are not buying furniture, or having much reupholstered either.  I have enough work to last until summers end at this point, but after that?  Custom built furniture and accessories are dead also.  On the positive side I might have a whole lot more time to devote to the bus project!  Thank goodness my wife has a good job.
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln
http://www.mjamsdenfurniture.com

sofadoc

July 08, 2013, 04:26:06 pm #4 Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 05:56:39 pm by sofadoc
Unless we re-train America to buy quality furniture, the reupholstery market will continue to have a shrinking client base. It only stands to reason. There is only a limited number of well-built pieces in Grandma's attic left in the world.

Only the strong are surviving right now. My business is better than ever, only because the competition around me continues to fold. I found an old 1960 Greenville YP's phone book. There were 8 upholstery shops.
Now, there's just me and an older man with a heart condition. He does very little.

There was a time when it was nothing to have 2 or 3 fabric/supply salesmen in my shop at the same time.
Now, I consider myself fortunate to still have one monthly delivery truck calling on me.

I hate to be a "Negative Neddy" here........but IMO.......NO......furniture reupholstery is not making a comeback.

Cars, boats, and other needle related trades may be a different story.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

jojo

I confess to being one of those small people (both me and my partner) who buys furniture at Ikea. It's cheap and it looks good, and being adults with grown children out of the house, it doesn't get any abuse.

I have to agree with Sofadoc, reupholstery is not making a comeback. The problem is that consumers cannot see what is under the foam and upholstery...they don't care about hardwood frame vs. particle board, etc.
The low hanging fruit is the good looking, affordable stuff.

But I'm starting to hear from my marine customers that it's getting cheaper to buy a set of back to back seats (just one example) rather than have them reupholstered.
I've been on ebay and have seen them selling for $600, but suspect that the very low quality vinyl they use will need to be replaced within a couple of years anyway.

scarab29

Back to back , funny you mention this !! Had a guy call me from a marina asking me to fix a seat seam on his boat. Showed up with a back to back. Didn't like my price . Told him to buy the whole seat new . Just too much time involved.

duct tape is like the force . it has a light side , a dark side , and holds the universe together.

gene

I would say 'no' also.

I think people do buy what they perceive as worth buying. And cheap furniture is what they perceive as worth buying. Furniture has become a part of the 'disposable' society we live in.

There are still folks who enjoy and can afford quality furniture, but I don't think they are growing in number.

On the other side, look at how many people buy a $4.25 cup of coffee at Starbucks. Is that worth buying? It is to those who buy it.

These are important topics to talk about. It is our future.

gene



QUALITY DOES NOT COST, IT PAYS!

Rich

The day to day customer is not showing much promise of any change to this throwaway society we live in, but I wonder if the building dissatisfaction with the way we've been messing up our earth will filter down to our industry in time. Landfills are over capacity and replacing furniture as often as Americans do may become something to be frowned on as it is in some circles to drive a big, gas guzzling vehicle or to not recycle.
As they say, it's not sustainable.
Rich
Everything's getting so expensive these days, doesn't anything ever stay at the same price? Well the price for reupholstery hasn't changed much in years!

baileyuph

Good point Rich, one would think that what we are doing to the environment will have to be factored into what ever reupholstering evolves into.

Maybe the issue or the subject of the thread could be broken down into two parts?

One part:  Is reupholstering old furniture making a come back?

Another part:  If the trend of buying new furniture every few years continues will there ever be a recyling value to old furniture?

Wood could be recycled, if not already.

Steel is already an item that is recycled.

Then, that basically leaves old foam and cloth, could it ever have value to cause it to be a candidate for recycling?  For the most part, both items are derivative of oil.

Goot thread and points made,

Doyle


Mojo

A county landfill by us has a small power plant attached to it. They sort the trash according to what will burn and what wont. While we have no recycling program the landfill will burn old furniture, scrap wood and a host of other things.

In one area they have a collection area that is all metal items. In another area is all old appliances. Another has electronics and another has waste oil collection barrels. Several times a year they have an open house where people can bring in hazardous chemicals, old medications, paints, anti freeze, etc. No questions asked. We are allowed 2,000 lbs of trash a year per household. Yard waste is mulched or burnt.

One of my former clients from my corporate days has owned a private landfill in Michigan for years. Starting out small they have a massive operation now. He has a power plant as well and burns methane gas tapped from the landfill. They also do alot of recycling.

I was at the landfill last year dropping off some motor oil and just had to shake my head at all the cheap chinese furniture piled up inside these massive dumpsters heading for the power plant. By the style of it all none seemed to be more then 10 years old. :(

Chris

DDandJ

Do customers who purchase higher-end furniture tend to have those pieces reupholstered rather than buying a new piece?  Or do you guys see more Ashley pieces coming into your shops?

I always wonder why someone wants something recovered.  Is is because the piece is sentimental or because they think reupholstery is less expensive?  Or, is it because they paid a lot of money for the piece and want to keep it?

I don't have customers like you guys.  Just curious about what goes on the in real world of reupholstery.

sofadoc

Quote from: DDandJ on July 12, 2013, 07:59:39 pm
Do customers who purchase higher-end furniture tend to have those pieces reupholstered rather than buying a new piece?  Or do you guys see more Ashley pieces coming into your shops?

I always wonder why someone wants something recovered.  Is is because the piece is sentimental or because they think reupholstery is less expensive?  Or, is it because they paid a lot of money for the piece and want to keep it?

I don't have customers like you guys.  Just curious about what goes on the in real world of reupholstery.
Most of the furniture I recover is low to mid-grade. Like we recently discussed on another topic, there just isn't enough quality furniture being manufactured these days. Purely from a dollars & cents standpoint, most of it isn't worth recovering. Most of my customers opt to reupholster for the purpose of customizing. All the furniture in the big box dept. stores are very "cookie cutter". Very few style/fabric choices. People choose to recover as a form of expression. It's a way to make their home stand apart. They aren't as worried about the "bottom line".

I often tell people who are just trying to decide whether it would be cheaper to recover, or buy new "If price is your only concern, you're better off buying new".   
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

kodydog

Good points Sofa. Also I try to stress that reupholstery is a one stop venture. A customer can spend days or weeks going from store to store searching for that perfect piece of furniture. Or come to my shop, pick a fabric, and we'll do the rest.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html

MinUph

I've been reading this thread and not saying anything. I felt the same when I was in Upstate NY and it is a big reason why I closed my shop up there. I didn't want to lessen the quality to compete. I may have said that before here but oh well Age allows for such things as repeating yourself :)
  Anyway. I am working for someone down here and we keep very busy with high end people. Some of the furniture is good some is cheap but they have no problem reupholstering it. They mostly use design firms. We do the labor. And many of the designers will use our fabrics at a discount of course. But it works out for all concerned. Also about 40-50% of our work is our own customers. Repeat and new. So I see this a bit differently now.
  I remember 12 or so years ago thinking the business would die soon. Now I wonder. The average customer will always be looking for the cheapest way out but there are still many above average ones that like a piece and want to keep it. So I think it all depends on where you are and the clientele you have will make you feel one way or the other about the business.
  The only real problem I see is no-one seems to interested in learning the trade. The youngest Upholsterer we have had is in his 50s. The lack of "learning trades" in the school systems has played a big part in this. Not that I ever saw an Upholstery class if school but learning a trade also teaches quality workmanship. And that follows to anything you see or need in life.
  Well I've rambled on enough. I'm no longer a cynic and am enjoying doing Upholstery again.
Paul
Minichillo's Upholstery
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