Letter to the editor: 'A parallel universe'
May 17, 2017,
I agree with Jerry [Epperson] that the ’80s were a fun, vibrant, special time. However I experienced the furniture business in an almost parallel universe.
My company, Workspace, was one of a number of small manufacturers who served the emerging “lifestyle” retailers. At that time, Crate & Barrel and Room & Board had only one or two furniture stores. Workbench, The Door Store, Storehouse and others were importing Danish and Italian furniture to satisfy the tastes of the Baby Boomers. And regional independents with the same style sense, like Circle Furniture and Boston Interiors, began to grow and prosper by carrying wood products made mostly in New England.
Much of the North Carolina wood product at the time looked to me like “chocolate puddin’ furniture” as a friend in North Carolina described it. This is what got exported to China to manufacture and then shipped back to us at half the price.
I remember suggesting to a rep for one of the big North Carolina case goods companies that if they put 80 cents more cost into their drawer systems, the drawers might actually work well. He responded that it was all about the “face” that mattered. I can assure you that most of the furniture I manufactured 35 years ago is still working and in use. I’m not sure that the case goods with a lot of “face” are still standing.
Obviously not everyone can afford that “better” furniture. But I think younger people are realizing that it’s not a good thing to put a piece of furniture out on the curb after six or seven years. Maybe that’s the new “lifestyle”.
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