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100 Years Ago In Furniture World

Furniture World Magazine


By the summer of 1918, in the midst of World War 1 the U.S. government put increasing pressure on furniture manufacturers to "curtail" production to free up resources for the war effort. A downbeat, tired, retail mood was reflected in the pages of Furniture World Magazine.

Furniture Manufacturers Asked To Curtail Production

The members of the trade attended (the conference) with a view to learning something of the attitude of the War Industries Board, and the War Industries Board, in turn, wished to know from the furniture men just what they could do to help win the war. It was really a meeting called to seek out the best means of cooperation to enable the country to win the war as soon as possible. Everybody is aware of the objections against furniture at a time like the present. The two big objections, from a governmental point of view, is that furniture consumes considerable space in transportation and also a considerable amount of fuel to manufacture.

“The meeting showed that the war industries board has no intention of asking furniture manufacturers to take any more steps at curtailment than are absolutely necessary. How far it will be necessary to go this winter is a problem. The curtailment of the industry will depend on the general conditions regarding transportation and fuel. If the winter is mild, and there should be no severe shortage of cars or fuel, it is probable that the furniture industry will not feel the hand of restriction to any great extent. On the other hand, a winter as bad as last winter might see a general shut-down for a while.

The most startling statement of the conference was that we must promulgate the doctrine of less business.

New Technology Advance: Photo Furniture Catalogs

The James Bayne Co. is having success artistically, and in a business way as well, with its comparatively new process of photogravure work for the furniture trade… Photo-engraving is the art of preparing by means of the chemical action of light on certain bodies of an engraved plate for printing. The art has been highly developed by some workmen, especially in France, being comparable only to the finest work by hand… and seems peculiarly fitted to meet the needs of bedroom and dining room stuff.


Furniture Transport: Motor Trucks Are Coming!

The accompanying illustrations give some idea of the evolution that is going on in furniture trucking in the manufacturing circles of this city. In very early days the furniture wagons in use were of a nondescript, miscellaneous sort and then there has gradually evolved the type shown in the first picture, a big, wide wagon on platform springs, the ample floor body being enclosed around with removable upright standards. These wagons were admirably adapted for handling crated goods of the bulky kind and are still in general use. The swift and tireless motor truck (also pictured above) however is coming in and will eventually displace the horse-drawn wagons entirely.

After the war, and possibly sooner than that, the local furniture manufacturers’ association will build a central assembling warehouse for carload shipments... and it is expected in time that most if not all of the furniture originating in Grand Rapids will be transported to this central warehouse by a fleet of motor trucks for shipment to all parts of the world.


Advice For Retailers! Don’t Laugh at Women

"If you wish to attract men, make your store a good place for women to trade, as they are the best advertisers, also the greatest 'knockers'* in the world,"is the advice of a successful Philadelphia retailer. It has been estimated that over 75 percent of all merchandise sold is either bought by a woman or that a woman controls the purchase. These figures are sufficient evidence of the need of catering to women buyers in all lines.

If your goods are satisfactory, the service you render above the average and other points in keeping, you will find each of your women customers eager and anxious to trade with you and spread the news broadcast that your store is a good place in which to trade. On the other hand, if your store is not well-kept, clerks not alert and goods not up to standard, every woman in your vicinity will know it and irreparable damage will be done.

The list of goods women buy in lines outside household goods, apparel and furniture is almost endless, so do not make the fatal mistake of thinking, “What’s the use? Women do not buy my line.” In these days, when women are fast taking hold of the buying of most all commodities, it will be well to give this subject consideration. For example, a cigar dealer in West Philadelphia has made a special play for women’s trade. He has fitted up a counter with pipes, cigars and smoker’s articles so a quick selection can be made.

The goods bought are, of course, sent away to men in service. This dealer quickly discovered that if he made it easy for women to buy tobacco at his store he would have a “bulge” on other dealers.
Thus you will find almost any hour of the day or evening, one or two women buying goods that women seldom buy.

Of late, a large maker of paint for household use has advertised how easily a woman can do over her bedroom furniture. A dealer in paints and supplies has tied up the loose ends of this publicity by placing a card in his window, reading, “Ladies, it is very easy for you to make that furniture look like new. Come in and we will mix the paint and help you select proper brushes, also give advice free of charge.”

If you attempt to attract women to your store, do not laugh at them, but give each caller every assistance possible. A well-known magazine recently printed an article showing how easily a handy woman could renovate chairs by use of a patented chair seat. The ad was a good one and not a few women called at the dealer’s to inquire for the material. Here they were told: “Yes, we carry the seats, but it’s a man’s job to attach; you could never do it.” Thus the result of many dollars’ worth of publicity was lost because this dealer did not understand that a woman needs a little help and encouragement when she goes out of the beaten path to purchase.

*A "knocker" was a common term for a sales representative.


Debt Forgiveness Before Finance Companies (Poem)

Last evening I was talking With a merchant aged and gray, When he told me of a dream he had— I think ’twas Christmas Day.

While snoozing in his office, This vision came to view;
For he saw an angel enter, Dressed in garments white and new,

Said the angel: “I’m from heaven; The Lord just sent me down
To bring you up to glory And put on your golden crown.

“You’ve been a friend to every one, And worked hard night and day; You’ve supported many thousands And from few received your pay.

“S0 we want you up in glory, For you have labored hard, And the good Lord is preparing Your eternal, just reward.”

Then the angel and the merchant Started up towards glory’s gate, But when passing close to Hades, The angel murmured: “Wait!—

“I’ve a place I wish to show you; It’s the hottest place in Hell, Where the ones who never paid you In torment forever dwell.”

And behold the merchant saw there His old patrons by the score, And grabbing up a chair and fan, He wished for nothing more.

He desired to sit and watch them as they’d sizzle, singe and burn; And his eyes would rest on debtors, Whichever way they’d turn.

Said the angel: “Come on, merchant! There are pearly gates to see.” But the merchant only muttered, “This is Heaven enough for me."


Cohen Furniture Brothers Arrested For Egg Larceny

Dave Cohen, brother of Harry J. Cohen who planned and executed a fraudulent (furniture store) failure, was arrested in this city (Gettysburg, Pa) last week accused of the larceny of a consignment of eggs valued at $570 and belonging to Albert Hollinger of Adams county, Pa. He was also charged with false pretense concerning the disposal of the eggs. Jacob Cohen, another brother, who was also connected with the Cohen failure, was arrested at the same time on the same charge.

Both Dave and Jacob Cohen were held under $800 bail each, in the City Hall Police court for a hearing.


Furniture Store Get Kids To Collect Tin For War Effort

A THRIFT STAMP FREE to encourage a lesson in Thrift. Every child that brings in a pound of tinfoil to our store before August 15 will receive a Thrift Stamp free. The tinfoil is to be turned over to the Red Cross (the greatest Mother on earth helping our boys in this great fight for democracy).


Century Furniture's 1918. Grand Rapids Intros.

New furniture in unusual variety, improved in quality and fully up to past seasons in quantity as well, -- this is the story in a nut shell of what the Century furniture Co. will show at the factory during the coming (Grand Rapids) exposition. The Century line will not have a dull, uninteresting pattern, nor one that is commonplace and like what others are making… Originality without vulgarity and refinement without mediocrity – this may offer some suggestion of the happy course taken between the perils on either hand by this company.


Store Liquidator Nets "Over 100 Cents On The Dollar!"

Advertisement: PROFITABLE SERVICE rendered to Retail Merchants. Sixteen years conducting Trade Building, Stock Reduction and complete Closing Out. Advertising, Special Sale Campaigns, with a record of having sold stocks, netting more than 100 cents on the dollar.

The Berdan Furniture Company of Passaic, N. J., carrying a stock of $50,000.00 was highly pleased with results obtained through Harper’s Service, as also were the James Furniture Company, Aurora, Illinois, for whom we sold $8,500.00 in ten days; size of stock $30,000.00, and Smith & Son, Muskegon, Mich., for whom we sold $3,902.00 in two weeks’ sale last March, size of stock $7,000. Also Webbs House Furnishing House , Oshkosh, WIS., who employed the Harper Service twice. Harper’s Service IS endorsed by banks, trade journals and many hundreds of merchants throughout the United States. Are you interested? For particulars mention size of stock and object of sale. Auction sales upon request only. - C. N. HARPER & CO., Inc., Chicago, Illinois


War Trophies at Paine’s

An interesting collection of war trophies attracted much attention to the large corner window of the Paine Furniture Co. store at Arlington street and St. James avenue. The trophies were loaned to the Paine company by D. W. Griffith, of “Hearts of the World,” now showing at the Majestic theatre.The exhibit comprises rifles and equipment, as well as clothing taken from dead Germans...

Note: More history from Furniture World Magazine 125,100, 75 & 50 years ago in upcoming issues.

Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at editor@furninfo.com.