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New furniture shopping

Started by sofadoc, September 01, 2014, 02:46:08 pm

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sofadoc

September 01, 2014, 02:46:08 pm Last Edit: September 01, 2014, 05:30:31 pm by sofadoc
Some friends of ours asked me and my wife to go with them to shop for new living room furniture. Mainly, they wanted my "expert" opinion about sofas and such.

I don't have to tell you guys that taking an upholsterer with you to shop for a couch is a bad idea. Especially when you're shopping at all the usual budget places.

But I promised myself that I would be as objective as possible. I took into account that this couple is over 40, their combined weights are under 350 lbs, and they aren't the kind of people that abuse furniture.

I set the bar very low on my criteria. I never absolutely ruled out any piece that they had their eye on. I only pointed out possible shortcomings on various pieces so they could make a more informed decision.

In the end, they picked out a living room set that they felt good about, and that's really all that matters.

As we walked around the stores, one thing I kept noticing was how poorly padded the top arms are. On most pieces, you could feel the hard edge on the front of the arms.

I overheard a salesman telling customers what the hottest fabrics/colors are right now. As I looked around, I'm thinking "Well of course they're hot..........that's all there is to choose from". There are basically only 3 or 4 colors and textures in the whole store.

And you know that video at the top of this page where the guy can't keep that nail gun straight? Well he must've done all the nailheads in one of the showrooms that we went in. Not only were they crooked, they were sunk at different depths. Some of them you could pry out with your fingernail.

All things considered, I'm glad I went with them. If you're ever feeling like the business might be passing you by, just go to a new store for a boost of confidence.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

byhammerandhand

I understand.   We don't buy much furniture (make most of it), but my wife says I'm difficult to shop for furniture with.
Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison

MinUph

That was nice of you to go with them to help. I'm surprised they ended up with something. My wife and have gone furniture shopping a few times and have never come back with anything. New stuff is so bad to our eyes as upholsterers. I know exactly what your mentioning about padding on arms. The wood is there for the feeling. You would think the manufacturers would at least ad a little more on arms.
  Kind of unrelated.. I can't stand some sales people that think they know furniture or whatever else they are selling. I remember buying a water bed once a long time ago and he was saying how well built it was. But joined plywood. Whatever.
  Nice of you to help...
Paul
Minichillo's Upholstery
Website

SteveA

I think with the internet many consumers are educated but most time the underlying factor is cost.  My Son bought a huge 2 piece leather section sofa in Bob's for $ 400.00 - although I told him the springs, wood, and leather are all poor quality - the price was right.  Sofadoc - I was thinking the end of the story would be the manager telling you - we appreciate if you don't come back sir ! 
SA

chrisberry12

there is some really nice furniture out there, ie Harden, Stickley, Lee but I would rather buy a new van or car for the prices they get

chrisberry12

I have a customer that bought a simple "studio couch", no arms, attached seat and back cushion. She paid $10,000.00 thats right ten thousand dollars and the down is working through the ticking. I am going to replace the ticking cover for her in the seat cushion. You would think for this price they would only use top quality products. The price is ridiculous!!!

sofadoc

Quote from: chrisberry12 on September 02, 2014, 02:53:22 pm
You would think for this price they would only use top quality products. The price is ridiculous!!!
We were all brought up to believe that "you get what you pay for".

But it isn't always true anymore. Just because you pay for quality, it doesn't necessarily mean that you will get it. That reason alone contributes mightily to America's "cheap" mentality. Why pay top dollar for something that doesn't live up to it's price? At least when a cheap couch breaks down, you can't be too terribly disappointed about something that you had low expectations for in the first place.

I think we upholsterers can be somewhat hypocritical at times. We scorn the people that buy cheap furniture, and then we run out to places like Harbor Freight for our tools.
"Perfection is the greatest enemy of profitability" - Mark Cuban

Mojo

Not being a furniture guy I have two questions for you experts.

1.) Is there any furniture being made in the USA anymore ?

2.) What name brand is the highest quality furniture on the market ?

Chris

byhammerandhand

September 02, 2014, 03:57:59 pm #8 Last Edit: September 02, 2014, 04:26:50 pm by byhammerandhand
There are very few big names still made in USA or Canada.   Even if I see something made in USA in the last year doesn't mean it currently is.  And just because one piece is made in USA does not  mean a manufacturer's whole line is.   Or it could be "assembed" from imported parts.   I used to assemble a lot of dining chairs, end tables, and such that needed parts bolted together from flat box shipping.

As far as I know, Harden, Stickley, Hancock & Moore still are.   Even some of the top brand names like Henredon now seem to be all import.  I did work for the local Henredon store before they closed and don't remember any domestic stuff.  Likewise, I worked for Norwalk store before they closed and while upholstered in Ohio, I think the frames  were all imported.  Norwalk (about 1/2 hour from where I sit now) went through a lot of struggles in 2008 when their credit lines got called in.  They couldn't get credit to get materials and when they couldn't get materials, they couldn't produce anything to sell, so they had no income.  Last I heard they got saved by white knights.


As  far as getting what you pay for, I remember working on several $10K leather sofas that squeaked.   Underneath the springs was a series of perforated metal strips.  They were secured around the edges with roofing nails.  Fully half the nails were pulling out.

http://www.marketplace.org/topics/economy/what-exactly-does-made-usa-mean

Quote from: Mojo on September 02, 2014, 03:24:28 pm
Not being a furniture guy I have two questions for you experts.

1.) Is there any furniture being made in the USA anymore ?

2.) What name brand is the highest quality furniture on the market ?

Chris
Keith

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas A. Edison

mike802

QuoteI have a customer that bought a simple "studio couch", no arms, attached seat and back cushion. She paid $10,000.00 thats right ten thousand dollars and the down is working through the ticking. I am going to replace the ticking cover for her in the seat cushion. You would think for this price they would only use top quality products. The price is ridiculous!!!


I build an extremely high quality sofa that retails for 5,995.00.  This sofa is built using 5/4" thick maple frame using pegged mortise and tenon joinery and is custom made with the exposed wood being the spices of the customers choice.  It has a true 8 way hand tied coil spring system, is padded with horsehair and cotton with down and feather cushions.  In my opinion a better sofa cannot be built, different yes, but not better, it will last for many generations. 

This is of course not a mass produced product, but if a fancy design center in NY NY wanted to purchas said sofa for retail and I were to wholesale this sofa, I would have to sell it to them at my retail price.  This means they would easily want to get around ten grand for it.  Which also means I would have to set my retail price to match theirs if I were to continue selling retail.  So is the price for my sofa at ten grand ridiculous? absolutely not!  Of course I cant compare my sofa to the "studio couch" because I don't know how it is built, it could be that 10 grand for the studio couch is ridiculous, but not for the one I produce.

Once upon a time all furniture was built by people like me, it was expensive and upholstered furniture was considered a luxury, but people usually were able to have a few nice pieces.  It just goes to show you how Americans have been impoverished since about 1913 and they don't even really know it.
"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

Mojo

Mike:

If I could write a check tomorrow for new furniture you would be getting a call from me.

Your furniture is beyond high quality and you are the one furniture maker I call a true master craftsman.

I wished I had the time to help you market your pieces. I would love to be able to
help show off your stuff to the rich and famous. You can be very proud of the work you do.

I was just telling Catalina Rick about you the other day on the phone. He was talking about building furniture from scratch.

You are the man Mike. :)

Chris

mike802

Thanks Chris:  Always nice to hear, I am gearing up for a show the last weekend in Sept.  Decided to try something really artsy.  I am videoing it and will post it as soon as I have it finished.  Thanks for the pep talk, you dont know how little things like that help when sales are really slooooow.
"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

kodydog

About 10 years ago we met my mom and pop in North Carolina. The mission was to buy a new living room set for them. We stayed in Ashville and drove down to The Hickory Furniture Mart. If you've never been this place is cool. Its like a large mall with 4 levels of outlet priced stores.

It was funny because after the 3rd store I started getting a feel for what my mom was looking for. But every time we walked into a new store she would gravitate toward furniture I new she would never buy in a million years. I had to keep steering her in the right direction.

At the end of the day we ended up at the first store where we started. She bought a Broyhill recliner sofa and two wing chairs.

I was listening to Clark Howard a few weeks earlier and he said be very careful when buying furniture. Because so many furniture stores were going out of business you should pay with credit card only. I relayed this info to mom but the store did not take credit cards so she payed with a check. They shipped the furniture and everything turned out all right but I was a little nervous about it.

A few months later the tax man showed up at my dads door and said he owed money for the furniture he bought in NC. he told the guy some story about how his son lives in NC and he bought the furniture for him. A complete fabrication but the guy left and never came back.
There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.
http://northfloridachair.com/index.html