An Insider's View

Epperson

After the storm: Finding the silver lining and other good thoughts

September 11, 2017

We share everyone’s concern about our friends in eastern Texas with Hurricane Harvey. I cannot fully relate to their experience, but seeing the visuals on television is frightening. Our prayers go out to our friends at Gallery Furniture, Mattress Firm, Star Furniture, Dickson Furniture Manufacturers, Largo Furniture, Ladco Design Center, Chair King and many others.

Houston has always been an interesting furniture city to me. It is like eight different smaller cities that offer different socio-demographic opportunities blended in one huge media market.

Natural disasters are not pleasant to discuss, but the business side might deserve some mention. Decades ago, visiting with a top executive at Heilig-Meyers, we were lamenting the weak summer sales. He commented, “Jerry, we need a good hurricane.” He meant it in jest, but some do benefit from these events.

Hurricanes and floods are impossible to avoid when they occur, and the damage is vast and usually encompasses many residences. Some homes can be repaired, but often the soft furnishings, upholstery and mattresses must be replaced, and the remaining furniture must be carefully evaluated, especially if it floated off somewhere.

Furniture retailers tell me that after a major hurricane and flood, there is an echo effect when it comes to home furnishings. Immediately following the disaster, there is a need for something to eat on, sleep on and sit on, so they buy things that might be more disposable. Months later, after the repairs to the residence, they will buy furnishings that are more long term in nature and stylish to go with the home.

No one likes to profit from another person’s misfortune, but there is an economic benefit to replacing major appliances, apparel, floor coverings and all the components of a house. Hopefully, insurance and government programs can minimize the financial loss, but nothing can make up for the human misery and loss of family and friends.

As I write this, the remnants of this horrific event are headed Northeast, still packing a lot of rain, so I will give my best wishes to our friends at Ivan Smith Furniture, Olinde’s Furniture and others. Please be safe.

One last thought, when my wife and I purchased our condo last year, our homeowners’ insurance representative asked if we wanted flood insurance. Being cheap, I said no. Living on the 8th floor, I seriously hope I never need it.