Meet Vermont’s Furniture Makers at The Premiere Forest to Table Event of the Year
Buy furniture at a big box store and what do you really know about it? Other than the country it was made in, the price, the materials…not much. Buy something made by one of Vermont’s furniture makers–like this wood and steel barnwood bench by Dan Mosheim — and you can find out practically everything about it including it’s inspiration, it’s personal significance, the meaning behind the shapes, the colors, the choice of materials, and so much more.
If the idea of getting to know your furniture and the people behind it appeals to you, then join us at the 11th annual Vermont Fine Furniture, Woodworking, and Forest Festival. This premiere forest to table event celebrates Vermont’s furniture makers and other influential members of the Vermont furniture industry. Attendees get the chance to see an exhibition of beautiful, handcrafted wood furniture and shake the hands of the people who make and sell it. Dozens of crafters from across the state will be bringing their best work to show the public!
One of the keys to the Vermont Woods Studios’ success, said Fletcher, has been personal customer service.
Everyone who works at Vermont Woods Studios is listed on the website with their full name, a photo, short bio, and amusing title (Fletcher is “office wizard,” Farabaugh is “founder and believer”) so customers know to whom they are talking. “We know purchasing furniture is a process, not just a transaction,” he said. Ann Thigpen of Canal Point, Florida, learned this shortly after she discovered Vermont Woods Studios while shopping for new bedroom furniture. She had searched for furniture made in America, and Vermont Woods Studios’ website jumped out at her. She liked the clean, informative design and was even more pleased once she called the company to enquire about a nightstand. She had never purchased furniture online and feared she was “buying a pig in a poke” (sight unseen). After the nightstand arrived via what’s called white-glove delivery (heavily padded and shipped by a company specializing in furniture delivery), Thigpen was so pleased that she decided to finish decorating her bedroom with furniture from Vermont Woods Studios. Each time, she called the company with questions, which the customer service staff patiently answered. “I think I’ve spoken with everyone who works there, even Farabaugh,” she said, laughing. When the bed arrived and wasn’t exactly what she hoped for, Vermont Woods Studios offered to replace the bed. “They’re that accommodating,” she said, still astounded.
Other customers are similarly impressed with the excellent customer service.
“It is not just about a sale,” commented Tina Buehler, a Vernon attorney who purchased a cherry computer desk and end table from Vermont Woods Studios. “They really want you to be thrilled with the product you purchase.” As for Farabaugh’s mission of selling eco-friendly furniture, it’s become a bonus. Most people now find Vermont Woods Studios because they are looking for a particular style of fine furniture. Like Clare Reid, who searched the Internet for contemporary hardwood furniture, then was pleased to learn that the furniture she found on VermontWoodsStudios.com is made from sustainable wood. But again, it was good customer service that sealed the deal. Her questions regarding different products, their construction, and delivery times were answered thoroughly, and when Reid’s builder fell behind on her new home, Vermont Woods Studios agreed to store the furniture. Brian Bell, a vice president at Lyndon Furniture, calls Farabaugh a pioneer in successfully marketing and selling furniture online. Despite its availability nationwide, Lyndon had struggled to connect with customers who want American-made furniture. Vermont Woods Studios is now one of Lyndon’s largest accounts, and Ball applauds the company for its customer service commitment.
Selling Vermont-made furniture from sustainable wood is Peggy Farabaugh’s mission. But customers have found far more at Vermont Woods Studios.
“There’s a warmth to fine hardwood furniture and a unique texture too. The rippled linear grain of oak, the icy smooth polish of maple, the warm silky feel of cherry, the slippery sheen of dark walnut, it beckons to be touched — table tops rubbed, chairs sat upon, cabinet doors opened and closed, smoothly and effortlessly. Which is why Peggy Farabaugh’s idea of selling Vermont-made hardwood furniture online did not seem like the best business concept when she came up with it in 2005.
“It’s ridiculous to think that you could sell fine furniture on the Internet because people have to see it and have to feel it,” said Farabaugh, who smiles and laughs easily.
More surprising, Farabaugh knew very little about either furniture or running a business.
But she had a mission. She wanted to start a business that would help save the rainforest by selling furniture made from sustainable wood grown in the U.S. (and preferably Vermont) and to bolster Vermont’s 200+-year-old furniture-making tradition.
So she started Vermont Woods Studios. From a spare bedroom in her Vernon home, she began selling unique Vermont-made furniture, such as Chad Woodruff’s quarter-sawn white oak tables, David Holzapfel’s ultra-modern yet primitive coat racks made of maple saplings and blackened cherry burls, and her husband Ken’s own maple inlaid side tables. Surprising even to Farabaugh, and through trial and error, she found a niche.
Now in its ninth year, Vermont Woods Studios has grown 35 percent in the past two years, and business doubled in the two previous years. The company now employs over a dozen people, and this past fall, they opened Stonehurst, a renovated 18th-century farmhouse and barn that serve as company headquarters and showroom. It’s finally a place where customers can see — and touch — the cherry, maple, oak, and walnut fine home furnishings that they have found on the web.
But the reasons customers have flocked to Vermont Woods Studios may surprise Farabaugh.”
We wish to express our deep gratitude to Peggy for all the time and talent she put into telling our story! And if you love part 1 as much as we do, stay tuned, we’ll be posting part 2 of our story on the blog early next week. Part 2 will include some spectacular customer stories and more insight on why we’re “more than just sustainable wood.”
“Tiny House Nation” is a television program that features innovative Tiny Homes from across the United States. Renovation experts and hosts, John Weisbarth and Zack Giffin travel across America to explore creative small spaces and the imaginative folks who occupy them. They also help new families design and construct their own dream tiny homes! Houses can be no larger than 500 square feet, and include anything from micro-NYC apartments to caboose cars turned mini-roadtripping home. This series celebrates the Tiny House movement and its explosive growth in the United States!
We’re excited to announce that we have provided some POLYWOOD® outdoor dining furniture to the tiny home! Sustainable Living is a major part of our company, so when we saw that there was going to be an episode shot in Vermont we knew we had to get involved. Douglas and Dennis made the trip up to Montpelier to hand deliver the furniture and meet the crew. We had been waiting in anticipation to see the show on air, and we were thrilled to see the Vermont tiny home in action last night on the FYI Television network!
What do you think, could you survive life in a home less than 500 square feet?
We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Vermont Life Magazine staff for including us in their fall issue! The article features several beautiful photos of our showroom, craftsmen, and furniture–as well as a compelling story that fits wonderfully with the rest of the magazine. We’re grateful to Jim Westphalen and Mary Hegarty Nowlan for their support of our green mission at Stonehurst, and we’re honored that they feel it fits into Vermont Life’s mission which “celebrates the unique heritage, countryside, traditions and people of Vermont and explores issues of contemporary interest to Vermonters and visitors to the state.”
We are excited to share our story with the world, and we hope you’re excited too! For information on subscriptions or information on how to pickup a copy of your own, visit www.vermontlife.com. If you’re local, feel free to stop by to take a look at our copy!