The grass is finally beginning to fill in at Stonehurst, our new fine furniture showroom. The past few months have seen a flurry of activity while Bob Furlone and American Construction finished their last few projects. This week they will complete the installation of indoor and outdoor lighting and be nearly done with renovations.
But the rest of us will still have plenty of projects left, and one of them is exterior painting. So I have an opinion question for you. In the first photos of Stonehurst which were taken in 1869, the house looked much as it does in today’s photo above, except the entire building was painted white:
Sometime-probably in the 1940s the exterior was painted barn red, when Stonehurst was transformed by Elsie and Romey Racine into the Pine Top Ski Area.
My preference is to restore Stonehurst to its original white color, but I’m getting some push back from those who have grown really fond of the familiar red color.
So what do you think? Red? Or white? And remember I’m not talking about wine. Let me know in the comment section below or on our Facebook.
Neville, Martin and Kendall have been leading an extreme makeover effort for our fine furniture website over the last 6 months (actually it’s been in the works for a couple years, but we weren’t able to really get it off the ground until Neville got here last December). Although everyone on our staff has had an important hand in the project, it’s been the 3 geniuses in the IT/Website room that have powered the transformation.
Today we start migrating over to the new, improved website so there will be a few unavoidable outages. In exchange for your patience we can offer you many new features that I think you will love– like return customer rewards, more intuitive navigation, easy check-out, elegant design and straightforward pricing of furniture pieces with customized options. Plus we have new, improved fine furniture bedroom sets and dining sets that will always be on sale for 20% off.
But if you happen to drop by while we’re offline today, please feel free to browse through our blog or give us a call (888-390-5571). Liz, Sean or Douglas will fix you right up! We appreciate your patience and promise to have the site back up and running better than ever, as soon as possible.
Kendall’s been home from college during his Christmas vacation so we put him to work with Loryn and Neville re-designing the look of our fine furniture website. Actually this is a project he started a year ago during last year’s holiday break, but it proved to be a more complex task than we anticipated. So Kendall’s been working it on and off while at school, but in earnest these last few weeks. We’re hoping to have the final touches put on the new website design next week.
I think you’ll like it. Kendall has cleaned up the clutter and created more space for what our customers have said is most important: photographs of our furniture. He’s also expanded the section of our website devoted to our green mission (forest conservation). And we’ve tried to make it easier to navigate by placing the shopping navigation menus on the top of the screen (not on the left side anymore). We’ve also added social media buttons (Facebook, Pinterest, Share, etc.) to help you bookmark or share the furniture you like best.
The “new look” is just a first step in responding to your requests for a better online shopping experience. Neville and Loryn are hard at work upgrading other features of our fine furniture website, equipping it with even more photos and making it faster, easier and more intuitive to use. Check in often over the next couple months and let us know what you think of our online upgrades. We’ll look for your comments below or on our Facebook.
If you’re shopping for top quality bedroom furniture sets, I’m sure you’ve noticed they’re priced considerably higher than the run of the mill sets you’ll find at Jordan’s or Bernie and Phyls. But if you want timeless, real hardwood furniture you’ll have for a lifetime, (something you’ll never have to replace) then what you’re really interested in is getting the best value, not the lowest price, right? My suggestion: first find the best quality furniture you can afford (here’s a solid wood furniture buying guide to help with that) in the style and wood species you love.
American Made or Imported?
Second, check to see where it’s made. If it’s imported furniture, you probably want to keep shopping. Honestly, I rarely hear complaints about the quality of virtually any American made, solid hardwood furniture (and the more local you buy, the better chance you have of getting the craftsperson or manufacturer to stand behind the product over it’s lifetime). On the other hand, there are dozens of consumer review sites filled with complaints about the imported furniture products found at big box stores like Ikea, Ashley and Bob’s. Quality can be quite poor and there’s little chance of getting satisfactory customer service.
How to Get the Best Furniture Value
Once you’ve found your favorite top quality, American made bedroom furniture, crafted of real solid hardwood, then start to work with the craftsman or retailer to get their best discount price. Remember however that American furniture involves using real, legal, sustainably harvested wood and American craftsmanship. Furthermore, US furniture makers don’t typically “mark up to mark down” so you’re unlikely to find “discounts up to 80%”. But often there is room for some negotiation.
Buy Top Quality Furniture in Sets to Get a Volume Discount
At Vermont Woods Studios for instance, we have a standing discount of 20% on bedroom sets* plus we offer a discount on full service white glove shipping and delivery when customers are buying 3 or more pieces. Like many online retailers, we offer a coupon code (BEDROOMSET20) for customers who prefer to purchase fine furniture online (be sure to “update cart” to get the discount). Otherwise customers can give us a call or stop by our showroom to receive the discount.
So my advice, if you’re shopping for the best price on high quality, real solid wood beds, chests, dressers, armoires, night stands, mirrors, blanket boxes and such is to focus on quality and style first. Find the American made bedroom furniture you love that will last a lifetime and then negotiate on price afterwards. My sense is that in doing the research you’ll find most USA made fine furniture is honestly priced and retailers are looking to give both you and the craftsman a fair deal.
When expanding, small retail businesses in Vermont often consider historically significant spaces such as downtown buildings or old farmhouses. ADA compliance is a major factor in determining the feasibility of such a move. Entrepreneurs should seek the advice of an architect or other professional during the earliest stages of planning.
Because many small businesses in Vermont are starting to consider expansion these days, I thought I’d share some of our experience with ADA Compliance at Stonehurst, our future Fine Furniture Gallery. In working with Jeremy Coleman + Company Architects and Bob Furlone of American Construction we’ve explored several alternatives to accommodating customers with disabilities. At first I began to call Jeremy Coleman “Dr. No”. He nixed every idea I had on layout and flow, because they weren’t ADA compliant. The codes aren’t intuitively obvious for a newcomer, but eventually I caught on.
The main challenge we have is that our 200 year old farmhouse sits 2 feet lower than the adjacent horse barn. Our plan is to connect the two buildings and transform them into a furniture showroom. But how will a person in a wheelchair be able to go from one building to the next?
We thought about a ramp, but there’s not enough room (a ramp cannot have more than 1″ rise in height per foot of length so that’s 24′ of ramp). Then we considered a 2′ high elevator lift, but it took up too much floor space and added $30,000 to our cost. Finally our builder, Bob Furlone suggested lowering the floor in the horse barn. It’s going to involve some excavating but we all feel it’s the best way to go.
We’re excited that soon we’ll be better able to accommodate the customers who contact us looking for customized furniture designed for wheelchair access. We’ve modified our dining tables many times by increasing the table height so a wheelchair can fit under the apron. Now those customers can come see us in person and enjoy the view of Vermont’s Green Mountain Forest while shopping comfortably from their wheelchair.
Stonehurst is still in the planning stages, while we wait for our Act 250 and other permits to be approved by the state of Vermont. After that happens, we’ll have a ground breaking ceremony and start digging. Stay tuned for more progress reports or follow us on Facebook for updates.