THE FURNITURE BUYING PROCESS
Purchasing furniture can be a daunting experience. Allow Reeds to have our team of experienced sales professionals assist you in your purchasing decisions. It is helpful to have an experienced furniture salesperson assist you as all furniture is not made equal although it may look the same. There are specific attributes that make one piece of furniture more expensive than another and last longer than another.
WHAT MAKES ONE PIECE OF FURNITURE COST MORE THAN ANOTHER?
The price of furniture is typically based on several factors. Some important factors which determine the price of a piece of furniture include the inputs, most important being material and labor. The second important factor is how much markup is on the piece. This includes whether the manufacturer is selling directly to the retailer or not or whether the manufacturer sells to a marketing company who then sells to the retailer. The third important factor is the freight to the final destination.
Inputs of Material and Labor Determine the Price
The most important factor is material and labor determining the price of furniture. The more a material costs, and the more labor a piece of furniture requires, the more expensive it will be. Thus, all furniture is not created equal and exterior appearances can be deceiving. There are technical reasons why a piece of furniture is more expensive than another. In summary, the more detail a piece of furniture has, the longer it takes to manufacturer, the more expensive it will be.
Complexity of the Finish
The complexity of the finish on a piece of furniture will make it comparatively more expensive than one with a less complex finish. For example, some furniture is finished with a 10 step gesso finish such as the linen finish from the Paula Deen line of furniture sold at Reeds. In the Paula Deen collection, 10 steps are applied to the furniture to make the finish have highlighting and glazing. In order to get the glazing and gesso effect in the finish, the furniture must be taken off the finishing lines to allow the different steps of the finish to dry. Not many manufacturers have the freedom to take a piece of furniture off the finishing line for 3 hours at a time to let the finish dry like the Laquercraft factory does where the Paula Deen furniture is made. This is not allowed in most factories because it stops the production line, wasting valuable manufacturing time. Because Laquercraft owns their own production lines, they dictate the production time of their furniture. Therefore, they have the luxury of producing such high end finishes as the one of the Paula Deen collection without the added cost most manufacturers would charge the end user for this premium result. This beautiful and unique finish makes this collection one of our favorites at Reeds. A finish is one important reason that makes one piece more valuable than another in furniture.
Complexity of Shaping and Carving
The complexity of the shaping and carving of a piece of furniture makes it more expensive than another. A piece of furniture that is built with straight lines like a box will take less time to manufacturer and subsequently will be less expensive. Therefore, the more shaping and carving a piece of furniture has, the longer it takes to manufacturer, the more value it has in the furniture world.
Strength and Detail
The more strength and detail that is put into making furniture, the more expensive it will be to manufacture. For example, a dresser that has dust proofed drawers (i.e., drawers that have wood under each drawer to prevent clothes from getting jammed behind the drawers) takes longer to make and requires more material than one that does not. Same is true for a dresser that is corner blocked, screwed and glued versus one that is has mere staples on the drawers to hold it together. English and french dovetailing, which holds a drawer front together, is going to be sturdier when opening and closing a drawer for many years than a drawer front that is merely stapled. You may pull the drawer front off a stapled drawer if you are not careful, so you, the end user need to be mindful and informed when you are buying furniture.
Make Sure You Are Informed About Your Furniture Purchase. Don't be Fooled by Fancy Displays
The features and benefits of traditional craftsman construction are meant to make your furniture purchase last and furniture without these features and benefits may not last as long as you might think. In todays furniture market, much furniture is manufactured to be disposable. Therefore, you should be informed about what you are purchasing. You should be the one to decide whether you want disposable furniture or not. Many stores sell lesser quality furniture and dress it up in store displays to look like a million dollars. In the furniture world this is called "merchandising". You get it home and then a year later you wonder why it does not look like the showroom display. It is because the way it was manufactured was meant to look good for a short time period, not built to last. You should know this before your purchase is made.
Reeds Does Not Disguise Quality Differences with Fancy Displays
At Reeds we are a large warehouse showroom. We do not intend to hide quality differences with fancy displays. In contrast we display our furniture in a warehouse setting where you can examine the backs of furniture to see how it is made. There are no disguises of fancy displays, just tons of selection and fantastic prices. You can see the differences of quality and prices in our store. We carry a little for everyone, from the budget minded to the quality minded. The choice is yours. If you are budget minded, please recognize there are differences in quality which relate to the inputs of material and labor. Please do not expect a complete bedroom set for the selling price of $1000 to $1500 to last as long as one that costs $3000 to $5000. There is a reason for the price difference, primarily material, labor, sourcing and freight.
Reeds Has Furniture for All Budgets and Tastes
With the influx of imports in todays market, make sure a qualified furniture sales professional from Reeds helps you make an informed buying decision. Reeds has furniture to suit all levels of taste and budget. If you want a short term set, we recommend Coaster or Homelegance. If you want a set to last a long time, we recommend Stanley or Universal. We understand todays difficult economic environment and understand different people have different furniture appetites. Reeds experience totals over 200 years among our professional and seasoned salespeople. We have all prices ranges and quality to choose from and are sensitive to your unique needs. The decision of choice is yours at Reeds, so let us help you make it an informed one.
In the above paragraphs I have generally spoken about finishes on wood products. What about upholstered products? This is probably the most confusing part of the industry as you cannot really tell what you are buying at face value. Upholstered furniture today can be made of everything from cardboard to hard wood frames. Of course wood arms are going to last longer than those made with cardboard. You would be surprised at how much furniture is sold today made out of cardboard which is why it only lasts a few years. A sofa with padded plywood arms, backs, and sides is a mark of a high quality piece of upholstered furniture. Cushions that can flip so that you can use both sides adds to the wearability and thus longevity of the piece. Casings that can be removed and replaced are also a marker of a well made product as these casings around the pillows can be replaced if needed and can be cleaned when needed to maintain the item.
Choose From Hundreds of Fabrics for Upholstery Made in the USA
Rowe Furniture, made in the USA, is a manufacturer that has hundreds of fashion forward beautiful fabrics you can choose from. They have all shapes and styles of sofas, love seats, chairs and sectionals to choose from. They make furniture the old fashioned way, with traditional eight way hand tied coil construction on most frames. Other manufacturers that allow you to design your own sofa with your choice of fabrics are Robert Michael, New Dimensions, Lane, EJ Lauren, Fairmont Seating, and Pacer.
The Interior Construction of a Sofa is Analogous to the Suspension in a Car
I like analogize the interior construction of a sofa to that of the suspension in a car. The more detailed the suspension, the better the ride. Some of the best sofas ride so nice because of the chassie construction. Logically, the inside support of the sofa determines the sit. The inside of the sofa where you sit is made of a form of a support system, sometimes a sinuous coil where wires are zig-zagged across the back and bottom of the sofa and attached to wood members to support the cushions. Other sofas are made of eight way hand tied springs all tied together to create a more flowing ride. The more support, or the closer the metal or springs are on the upholstered piece, typically means the more durable the construction. Therefore, the gold standard in upholstery construction is eight way hand tied as this is the way it was made in the golden era, the day when things were built to last.
Fabrics Dictate a Large Portion of the Input Price in Upholstery
The price of a sofa is once again determined by the inputs of material and labor. Fabric is one of the key input components of manufacturing a sofa, thus the more expensive the fabric, the more expensive the sofa. The fabrics of an upholstered piece can range from inexpensive mass milled fabrics to vintage fabrics custom milled. The inputs of material and labor of an upholstered product will determine the price as they do on a case piece of furniture.
Just Because a Fabric is More Expensive Does Not Mean it is More Durable
Just because a fabric is more expensive does not mean that it is better made or is more durable. It only means that it costs more from the mill. Some of the most durable fabrics in todays market are micro fiber fabrics and are the most inexpensive fabrics available because they are mass produced. They are also some of the most durable and can be cleaned with soap and water. In this case mass production is a good thing.
An extremely popular microfiber in todays market looks more like a velvet, however, than a microfiber. It is called viva, is reminiscent of a microfiber wide wale cord, and is available in tons of colors. Curling up in the Rocky Mountain sectional by Robert Michael made up in viva is like curling up in your favorite terry cloth robe. Its dreamy, down cushions and all. We stock it everyday in tons of colors and configurations. Come to Reeds to lay in it. I guarantee you will fall in love with it and may want to take one home that day. My friend just bought two he loved it so much!
Robert Michael is One of Our Favorite Upholstery Manufacturers
One of our favorite upholstery companies is Robert Michael. They specialize in family room sectionals and are a local California upholstery company with very little overhead. The owners work closely with the reps and factory workers to control the quality and value of their product. As such they make what we find to be the most comfortable seating in California for the money. Their sectionals are truly awesome in comfort. They are fabous for the pitch or seat of their sofa as they have perfected it.
Robert Michael has over 400 fabrics to choose from and you can purchase a very nice large scale sectional with a chaise in down in the mid $2000 range. Robert Micheal upholstery has kiln dried hardwood frames, they are corner glued, screwed and doweled, have sinuous spring construction, and have the most popular down cushion in the industry. This cushion even has a lifetime warranty which is better than most in our business. The freight is local as it comes from Los Angeles, and the lead time is approximately 4 to 6 weeks for a custom upholstered sectional, sofa, chaise, chair or ottoman in your choice of over 400 fabrics. Robert Michael stands behind their products and we are proud to be a close partner with them.
Disposable Sofas (Modern Product Obsolescence as Applied to Furniture)
In contrast to our favorite Robert Michael sofas which last a long time in relation to how inexpensive they are, many inexpensive sofas are typically very stylish and are meant to be disposable (meaning they will last you a few years but not longer, product obsolescence in the best form I suppose.) Of course a sofa made out of hardwood frames is going to cost more than one with cardboard arms. A sofa that has fabric on all sides of a cushion so that you can turn the cushions for more wear or stain protection is going to cost more than one where the cushions cannot be flipped and are single sided. The traditional saying that you get what you pay for is true. However, there are certain manufacturers that cost slightly more money but are worth the extra because of the significant increase in quality. Robert Michael is one of our favorites upholstery manufacturers because you get a very nice well made product for the money.
Markup as it Relates to "Marketing Companies" or "Jobbers"
This leads to my next topic of conversation, how much markup is on a piece of furniture? When I say markup I not only mean markup from the retailer to the end user, but how many times the product is being sold before it makes it to the end user and how much overhead is affiliated with each company selling the product. The less overhead the company selling the product has, the less markup is needed for that company to recover the cost of an item. Therefore, I would advise you buy from companies that sell directly to the retailer instead of what we call "marketing companies" or "jobbers". Additionally, when you buy from a retailer with fancy displays, know you are paying for that display is it is not free.
On our buying trips around the world we have seen a huge difference in the price of a manufacturer that sells directly to Reeds (such as Universal Furniture, Fairmont Designs, Schnadig Furniture, Diamond Mattress, Robert Michael) compared to a company that is what we call a "marketing company" that does not own their own factories but rather designs and markets their products, buys those designed products from a manufacturer, and then sells it to a retailer. The difference is that the marketing company mentioned has to make money to pay their overhead after buying the product from the manufacturer, then resells it to us the retailer, and then we resell it to you. The markup is three times or more depending on how many people are reselling the product versus two.
Just Because Furniture is More Expensive Does not Mean it is Better
Do you see how this can add up? It really does make a difference in the selling price of furniture. Thus, we conclude that just because a piece of furniture is more expensive, this does not mean it is a better piece of furniture. It only means that it is more expensive. So for those of you that think Ethan Allen and Thomasville is better than Universal or Schnadig, think again. Did you know that Universal and Marcor (the parent company of Schnadig) actually manufacture the furniture for Ethan Allen and Thomasville? Now you know.
The Best Value in Furniture is to Buy as Close to the Manufacturer as You Can - Universal Furniture and Legacy Classics, both owned by Laquercraft, are our favorites!
The best quality and value in furniture is when the manufacturer sells directly to the retailer. If the retailer can buy in bulk and pass the savings onto you, you, the customer wins. One very important thing to consider is that as much as we hate to admit it because of our current economic situation in the US, most furniture manufacturing is currently done in China. There are really only a few reputable factories in China, and most furniture manufactured you see in the marketplace is coming from a few factories (three or four big ones believe it or not).
At Reeds we source our furniture from these few factories, providing a tremendous value to our customers. Universal Furniture and Legacy Furniture made in the Laquercraft Facility is amazing quality furniture at unbelievably low prices. We buy containers direct from these companies and sell direct to you with very little markup. Most retailers are buying the furniture from these factories at the price we are selling it to you at, our Southern California customers. Take advantage of these values. The rest of the country will be jealous until we can figure out how to ship these products out of state. My apologies to everyone who does not live in Southern California as we do not currently ship out of state!
Freight Determines Important Input in Price
Another important factor in the inputs of the price of furniture is the freight to get the furniture from the manufacturer to the retailer. California is the largest deep water port closest to China. This is a huge advantage if you are importing furniture directly from China to California instead of from China to North Carolina and then to California as was done in the recent past. If you can find furniture manufactured in China and brought in large container shipments directly to the retailer like we do at Reeds, from the right manufacturers, you will get a better made product at a lower price. You not only get the benefit of bulk buying directly from the manufacturer but also direct container shipping rates from China. Believe it or not it cost less to ship a container from China than it does to ship a truckload from North Carolina. Go figure!
Beware of Proprietary Stores Lacking Competition
The final point I would like to mention to watch out for on this educational furniture buying lesson are proprietary stores where the brand is distributed only to their brand stores. This means there is not much competition on the brand. This not only is contrary to good old fashioned American capitalism but encourages price fixing among its proprietary stores to protect profit margin. Also beware of furniture that is not widely distributed in a trading area. This may be because the retailer selling the product in the trading area has a strict distribution policy which discourages competition, thus allowing that retailer to hold high margins on the product and charge more for the furniture without the clarity of competition in the marketplace. Either one of these situations is not good for you, the end furniture user watching your money, so beware.
Experience our 55 Years of Experience Making Beautiful Furniture Affordable
To conclude, there are alot of things to consider when buying furniture. Quality cannot be determined by price, and price cannot determine quality. Come to Reeds Furniture and speak with an experienced sales professional to help guide you thru the furniture buying process. Reeds stocks 55,000 feet of furniture from all over the world. We import furniture directly from the most reputable companies at all price ranges to save you money on quality furniture. Let us help take the confusion and mystery out of furniture shopping. Reeds makes beautiful furniture affordable. Come see experience our 51 years of experience!
Visit our huge showroom and allow our our knowledgable sales staff help you choose the right furniture for all of your furniture needs!