Back in January we got a phone call from a journalist, Nina Patel who was writing an article about American made furniture for USA Today’s Home magazine. Nina had come across our website while researching USA made furniture and home decor. She become interested in our green mission as well as our promotion of American made products through the Christmas Shopping Challenge we’ve been sponsoring the last couple years. We chatted back and forth for a week or so and Nina gathered lots of information about Vermont Woods Studios. I wasn’t sure which aspects would fit into her article, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting it’s publication to see what she found most newsworthy.
We were excited to see a preview of Nina’s “American Made” story in yesterday’s USA Today Weekend edition of their national newspaper. The full length article is in the Spring 2013 edition of USA Today Home Magazine which you can find at your news stand or online.
It turns out that Nina did highlight information about our sustainable forestry mission as well as our efforts to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from. We are grateful to her for discussing the value of American made, high quality, sustainable furniture in such a high visibility venue. The movement is catching on!
Top 3 Reasons To Buy Hardwood Furniture
High quality, real solid hardwood furniture is expensive, no doubt about it. It’s not for everyone. College students are more likely to find suitable furniture at IKEA- that’s for sure. But if you landed on this blog post, you’re probably a homeowner looking to feather your nest for the long term, right? Well we talk to people like you everyday and so we’ve learned a few things about why our customers are looking to buy hardwood furniture.
First – It’s Beautiful
Check out our cherry and walnut hardwood bedroom furniture set. You just don’t get this kind of smooth, refined patina on pine, spruce or other soft wood furniture. When hardwoods are sanded properly and finished with a clear, non-toxic lacquer or hand-rubbed natural oil, you can run your hands over the wood and it almost feels like skin. No softwood, metal or plastic furniture can give the same tactile sensation that high quality, handmade hardwood furniture does.
Second – It’s Durable and Lasts a Lifetime
Hardwoods like cherry, walnut, maple and oak wood are from deciduous trees that grow slower than coniferous softwood trees like pine, spruce, larch and fir. Thus hardwoods are typically more dense, heavy, durable and, well… hard. They also are fairly non – resinous and close grained so they don’t leak sap and split like pine does. If you take care of your hardwood furniture it will hold up beautifully for many years, even many generations. We are confident enough in our hardwood furniture to back it with a lifetime guarantee.
Third – It’s a Natural, Organic Part of a Healthy Home
Many people, especially those with young children are looking for natural, organic furniture to be a part of their healthy homes. They often talk to us about where their furniture comes from too. Hardwood furniture that’s made in America is typically built with wood that’s sustainably harvested from well-managed American forests. Families enjoy breaking bread over a dinner table that’s made in harmony with nature.
Bonus Reason! It’s Economical in the Long Run
OK, I said Top 3 Reasons, but here’s a fourth that I just can’t walk away from. In the long run, high quality hardwood furniture is cheaper to buy than other types of furniture– even IKEA’s. Consider how many times you’ll have to buy a bedroom set or dining furniture over your lifetime if you’re always buying something cheap. We’ve had lots of customers who tell us they’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the floor for a few years while they save up to buy a high quality hardwood bed. I can relate to that.
What are your reasons for searching for hardwood furniture? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook!
In the furniture world, High Point, North Carolina is the place to be in October. All the big, multi-national furniture wholesalers are there at the Annual Furniture Market selling to retailers from across America.
For the past 30-40 years these companies have been manufacturing their furniture in China, Vietnam and other third world countries. They moved there from places like North Carolina and Virginia in the 70s and 80s to take advantage of cheap labor, illegally harvested wood and lax safety and health regulations.
Well, now that wages and safety are both on the rise in China, the furniture companies are moving back to the USA. This year they are pushing two new over-arching sales themes at the High Point Market: American Made Furniture and Eco-Friendly, Green Furniture.
Hmmm. That sounds familiar, doesn't it? In Vermont our furniture makers have embodied these themes throughout our history. Vermont furniture has always been true to its American heritage, American quality and American jobs. And our states' furniture craftspeople have consistently used eco-friendly, sustainably harvested wood and non-toxic finishes for their work.
From the small custom shops that make one of a kind studio furniture to our medium and large scale furniture makers like Lyndon Furniture, Copeland Furniture, Pompanoosuc Mills, New England Woodcraft, Vermont Furniture Designs and Maple Corner Woodworks, Vermont craftsmen have been authentically American and eco-friendly throughout our history. It's not just a passing fad in Vermont and you can rest assured that we will be providing heirloom quality, natural, handmade furniture for generations to come.
We've been working hard to promote American Made products lately, in support of American workers who need jobs. All of our furniture is 100% American Made (100% Vermont made actually– well OK, I think we have a few chairs that are made in Massachusetts) but we wanted to do more. Dennis started our "Made in America" Holiday Gift Challenge event last month asking people to purchase "American Made" holiday gifts. We've got about 46 takers so far and you can add your name to the list if you're on Facebook.
Well, more and more with each passing day, it seems that buying American isn't just a patriotic thing to do– it's an economically smart strategy. In his Harvard Business Review column, Harold Sirkin sees a resurgence of USA manufacturing coming in response to changing economics. Chinese workers are starting to fight for higher wages at the same time that the cost of fuel and shipping from China to the US are also on the rise. Companies like Volkswagen are noticing– they recently opened a new $1Billion factory in Tennessee.
Now what will the big so-called "American" furniture companies do… like Furniture Brands International, the huge multi-national company that's bought out many of our iconic American furniture companies (Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, etc.) over the last 30 years? Well they anticipated this years ago and have moved many of their overseas operations from China to Viet Nam where wages are still deplorably low and regulations are even more non-existent than in China. But that's for another day and another discussion.
The good news is that there is still plenty of American made furniture being built in the USA and the best of it is right up here in Vermont!
It seems unbelievable to me but we have almost 2000 items in our Vermont Made Furniture Store now.
We're always trying to improve the navigation to make it easy to find what you like. Recently a number of customers have suggested that we showcase our Best Sellers so they can learn from existing customer experience.
So Rebecca worked with our craftspeople to come up with a category and a discount this week for our Top 20 Best Selling Furniture items.
Manjula just posted the Best Seller Sale. You can save 10% off any single best seller and 15% if you buy 2 or more. Kendall also added a $50 Facebook coupon: like us on Facebook and you save an additional $50.
The sale starts now and ends at midnight on July 26. Check it out!
Last week I blogged about Diane Sawyer's Made in America Series on ABC News. As I was going through ABC's website I noticed that they have a great little map of the USA that shows where American made products are being produced. The only problem was that Vermont Woods Studios Furniture was not on that map.
So I contacted ABC and requested that we be included. Low and behold… a few days later I got a call from Zach at ABC wanting to know what our company was all about. I assured him that all of our furniture is made right here in Vermont by Vermont furniture makers using wood that is sustainably harvested in America, preferably locally– in Vermont and New England.
Now we've been featured along with the many other awesome American companies on ABC's website. Check us out!
This week ABC News with Diane Sawyer is running a Made in America series in an effort to get people to think about American jobs whenever they buy something. The series takes a look at a family of four in Texas. It turns out they own hardly a thing that's made in the USA. So ABC news clears their house out of everything imported (basically only a flower vase is left) and re-fills it with American made furniture, appliances, clothing, toys and such. It's interesting and a great reminder to buy American.
At Vermont Woods Studios all of our furniture is 100% made in America but we realize that's not enough. Like any other American company that's going to be successful selling to consumers in the USA, we have to also have the best quality, best prices, best service and best social and environmental policies. We're always working on that and welcome your feedback and advice.
Labor Day seems to be a good time to talk about American Made Furniture. At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture, we were excited this week to read that Maine’s struggling Moosehead Furniture company has been rescued from extinction and bankruptcy by Maine businesswoman, Louise M. Jonaitis. This 60 year old company, the largest privately owned furniture company in New England provided jobs for 250 workers in 2002 but was shut down in 2007 leaving the residents of Monson ME jobless and with little hope.
Moosehead is just one of the hundreds of small furniture makers across American that have been driven out of business by cheap furniture imports. Why care? I don’t think many customers realize this, but most of the furniture you see in the USA is made in China and other third world countries. Even furniture that’s specifically labeled, “Made in America” typically has only about 30% American parts in it.
So why has the US furniture industry collapsed over the last 30 years? It’s sad, but globalization has enabled the “lowest price” to trump all other facets of furniture shopping, particularly quality. Think about it. In China labor costs are about 20 cents/hour and there’s no health care cost added to that. And there’s no regulatory costs. So almost all the big companies that used to build American Made furniture (like Thomasville, Basset, Lane and even Ethan Allen) have moved their operations overseas. Because these companies save so much money in labor and they often obtain their lumber illegally, their main costs are shipping, warehousing and marketing. Cheap furniture–FAST is the way they’ve characterized “American Made” furniture.
At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve chosen a different path. We know there are plenty of people out there who still value quality and wish to buy furniture that will last a lifetime– something they can proudly hand down to their children and grandchildren. And the benefits of buying American made furniture go far beyond your own home and into the homes of American craftsmen: your decision to buy our USA made furniture means that local Vermont communities have sustainable economies and… the tradition of high quality American craftsmanship lives on. I think it’s a win-win for all involved. What’s your opinion?
At Vermont Woods Studios we have the privilege of working with some of the best fine furniture makers in the world, so the crafting part of our business is always pretty trouble-free. It's the shipping end of things that presents the biggest challenge.
Our shipper is an award-winning antique furniture specialist. They are the shipper of choice for Sotheby's and Christie's too. Occasionally however, we get a phone call that something has gone awry. That happened last month when Jessica L phoned. There had been a mis-communication between Jessica and our shipper and as a result, this Vermont Made Shaker Buffet was delivered when she was not at home.
Normally the shipper would contact Jessica and return another day, however Jessica's neighbor volunteered to receive the delivery on her behalf– a solution that didn't work out for Jessica. Our job, when something isn't quite right like this is to fix the problem and make sure our customer is happy with the result. Rebecca is our ace problem solver and here's how Jessica described her damage control efforts:
I wanted to write you to thank you for the excellent customer service I received from
I initially wrote to complain that a delivery of a dresser had been
made without notice or my confirmation – since I was not home, the
dresser ended up at my neighbor's. Rebecca immediately emailed me back, and called, with apologies. I had not expected or thought that anything could be done, but Rebecca
arranged for the delivery men to return and move the dresser from my
neighbor's to my apartment. I was so impressed by the attention she gave
the matter, as well as her ability to redress the situation. The
dresser was moved yesterday, without a hitch. Also, the piece I ordered
is absolutely beautiful. I look forward to ordering from Vermont Woods Studio in the future, and my neighbor – who housed the dresser for a
week – also asked for your website info, as he loved the piece.
I don't usually write letters like this, but I don't usually receive
such great service. The true mark of a company is revealed, I think, not
by flawless service, but how problems are addressed. This situation was
addressed with the utmost care, respect, and competency. I truly thank
Rebecca for that.
Thanks Rebecca for all you do for our customers and our business. You are awesome! And thanks Jessica for taking the time out of your busy day to write such a nice note.
Where is the handmade wood furniture capitol of the USA? Would you be surprised if I told you it was Vermont? Many people are: they think of North Carolina as being the center of American made furniture and thirty years ago it was. But times have changed.
Over the past three decades, North Carolina companies have outsourced the vast majority of their furniture making to China and other third world countries. Big name furniture makers that we associate with the American made brand like Thomasville, Drexel Heritage and Broyhill are no longer making much furniture in the USA.
Vermont, with an unofficial count of some 2000 furniture makers has stepped in to become the fine handmade wood furniture capitol of America. Take a tour through Vermont's country roads and you'll find small workshops dotted throughout the countryside with old-world proprietors ready to welcome you into our world of traditional handmade furniture making.
Fine handmade wood furniture is an investment you will always be able to enjoy and pass down to your family for many generations. Check out Vermont Woods Studios to see a sampling of Vermont's fine furniture makers and give us a call to arrange a tour of woodworking shops in our state that offer the type of high quality fine furniture you've been longing for.