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‘Made in America' furniture becoming a popular category

Manufacturers say there's increased demand
HIGH POINT — Domestic wood resources are finding greater interest in their products in part due to an increased demand from consumers seeking U.S.-made furniture.
 Linwood Furniture Haymarket bedThis shapely panel bed is part of The Haymarket collection by Linwood Furniture. It is shown in a linen finish.

Some of those resources showing at the High Point Market this week are touting the U.S.-made nature of their lines with hangtags or other signage that identifies them as an American producer.

Vaughan-Bassett has signs throughout its High Point showroom that declare, "Made in the USA Gallery — America's Largest Maker of Wooden Bedrooms."

"Made in America is now a category," said Doug Bassett, chief operating officer. "It is a category that smart stores cover."

One such retailer is Flemington's Department Store in Flemington, N.J., which has a gallery area devoted to U.S.-made goods, said Rob Bunting, a buyer for the store.

While Vaughan-Bassett doesn't officially have its own gallery program, officials said that some stores that carry several of its bedroom groups will often place it alongside other U.S.-made product. The Vaughan-Bassett product usually is displayed with the Made in the USA signage.

"The Made in America story gives them a story to tell the consumer," said company President and CEO Wyatt Bassett. "More and more retailers are telling us that it helps business. It's not a tidal wave, but it is noticeable.... We are priced competitively with comparable import product, so what it means to the consumer is that they don't have to pay a premium for U.S. product."

This market, Vaughan-Bassett is showing a new Trends collection of bedrooms in combinations of oak, cherry and walnut veneers over cherry and ash solids, with three finish options. Two styles of beds retail at $499. Retailer response to the groups has been strong, the Bassetts said.

Legends Furniture has labels clearly identifying U.S.-made entertainment consoles and occasional items placed prominently at the front of its showroom. This market, it is showing about 14 new consoles and occasional groups coming out of its Arizona plant, including 56-inch solid and veneered console units retailing at $499.

"It has gotten more interest than in the past," said Tim Donk, marketing director. "Customers are asking for it."

He said the company added a Saturday shift during the first quarter in response to demand for domestic goods.

"In the first quarter, our domestic business was up 20% from last year and we had a great year last year," he said. He said domestic sales represent about Legends' business, up from 40% in 2007.

One of the appealing aspects of domestic product is its availability and relatively quick turnaround compared with some imports.

"If we are out of something that we import, we may be out of it for a while," Donk said. "If we are out of it on the domestic side, we are out of it for just a couple of days."

Officials at Linwood Furniture said dealers aren't coming into the company's showroom just because it's a U.S. wood producer. However, they are responding well to what the company says it can do as a U.S. manufacturer, including the ability to offer some 500 color options and ship a custom order in 30 days.

During the first two days of market, it saw more than double the number of accounts it saw last April. More than half the people it saw were new accounts, said Jeff Schwall, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

The traffic was due partly to a marketing effort that involved young local theater group members dressed like newsboys from the 1920s handing out fliers downtown that tout Linwood's North Carolina-based manufacturing model. Response also has been strong for its two new collections, including The Haymarket, which includes solid wood beds retailing from $1,500 to $2,500 and dining tables retailing from $1,299 to $1,999.

A number of other domestic wood resources are showing at market as well. Among them are Country Expressions, Harden Furniture, British Traditions, Century Furniture, Kincaid, Habersham, Standard and Simply Amish.

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