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Lock Yourself in the Kitchen

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DOES SALES TRAINING MATTER?

 

Lock Yourself in the Kitchen


Ideas by way of Jagger and Richards for Furniture World readers to either consider or dismiss.

I have a number of favorite expressions. These include “No good deed goes unpunished.” Love it. Also, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” For the past couple of years, we’ve all had to hike up our britches and deal with supply chain issues, so right now, my favorite expression is “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

That’s why I’ve chosen to advocate in this article for unconventional approaches to keeping furniture flowing onto smaller retailers’ sales floors. Throughout the pandemic, the Top-100 have leveraged their buying clout. Even if they can’t get exactly what they want, they can get all the goods they need. That has left some smaller retailers in tough situations.

One benefit that small footprint entrepreneurial businesses have is flexibility when faced with challenges. This reminds me of a story

One benefit that small footprint entrepreneurial businesses have is flexibility when faced with challenges. It reminds me of a story that seemingly has very little to do with the furniture business.

The manager of the Rolling Stones, Andrew Loog Oldham, was said to have locked Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in a kitchen to force them to write a sad song. “I want a song with brick walls all around it, high windows and no sex,” he said. The working title, according to Wikipedia, was initially “As Time Goes By,” the same as the song Dooley Wilson sang in the film Casablanca (see https://bit.ly/3HMIGZf). It was Oldham who replaced the word “Time” with “Tears.”

They came up with the song Marianne Faithfull released in 1964 to great acclaim (see https://bit.ly/3HzIwEd).

It sometimes becomes necessary to “lock ourselves in the kitchen,” to focus on an important task. That’s especially true in this extraordinarily bizarre time.

I’m sure that Jagger and Richards came up with some interesting as well as dead-end ideas before settling on their final version. That’s how I came up with the following list of ideas for Furniture World readers to either consider or dismiss. Even if you are a retailer that has your supply chain issues under control by now, some “kitchen” time might lead you to recipes that will add interest to your marketing and incremental dollars to your bottom line once business gets back to normal.

Pre-Loved Furniture Sales or Consignment

Cars aren’t the only items in the “used” category to become more popular and pricier lately. Vintage furniture, especially mid-century items from legacy manufacturers like Dixie, Heritage Henredon and Bassett are wildly popular. Watch any television commercial geared toward the 25-45 age group and I guarantee you’ll see a Lane switchboard cocktail table or an Eames chair. If you have a repair shop (you should) you can recondition these pieces. Look on websites such as 1stdibs.com or ebay.com, and you’ll quickly see what’s selling. Check out kaiyo.com, which promotes real finds on pre-loved furniture made to last. It’s a pitch that also appeals to consumers who are looking to save the planet by keeping furniture out of landfills.

Trigger: Visiting an area on a website.

Younger people have recently become attracted to vintage furniture. But not just any vintage furniture: it must be chic. In a recent installment of Furniture World’s Design & Designer series, Michelle Lamb observed that “Minimalist forms and patterns have been around for so long that it’s time for decorative looks to come back. That’s happening in a trend called grandmillennial. This style incorporates furnishings that look like they came from your grandmother’s attic, accented with forms that are cleaner and less detailed. These more contemporary accents often lean toward mid-century modern, a millennial favorite for so long that it is now considered a home furnishings basic.

“The grandmillennial trend is all about furnishings that look like or are vintage, but with a twist. For example, an upholstered chair that your grandmother loved in tapestry might be recovered for a 21st-century consumer in an updated color of velvet or an oversized repeat, transforming it into something unique. Or vintage-look furnishings may appear in a room with oversized floral wallpaper. It’s an eclectic look and part of a return to a tradition that we’ve been tracking for more than three years.”

Look on websites such as 1stdibs.com or ebay.com, and you’ll quickly see what’s selling. Check out kaiyo.com which promotes real finds on pre-loved furniture made to last.

“Vintage furniture has been out of fashion for long enough that it now feels fresh. Chairish has published some astonishing numbers about how many people have purchased vintage products at www.chairish.com.

Thrift Stores: You might think I’m reaching here, but thrift stores can be a good place to find this kind of gold. At a thrift store in Virginia Beach, I once found a Hickory Chair silver chest and a Lane cocktail table for $65 and resold them for $500. Habitat for Humanity has a strong furniture presence in this category and often has pieces on their floor in very good condition with plenty of margin left at retail. I bought a Maitland-Smith marble top chest for $79 in like-new condition. Even Craigslist has a ton of great furniture available. If you search by the legacy names, you’ll find it.

Other Ideas

Welding shops: Welders can make amazing things. If you can dream up a design, they can make it a reality. And, selling locally made metal bookcases and tables can give you an interesting story to tell on your next TikTok video.

Cabinet shops: What’s the difference between furniture and cabinetry? Nothing! Cabinet shops (like mine) can create all sorts of designs for you, right in your neighborhood, and you can control the color, woods, finish, and design. Cabinet shops traditionally focus on boxes, but they can turn posts, build frames, plank tops together, and join wood any way you like.

With a little time in the kitchen, a bit of luck and ingenuity, you may be able to augment your offerings and expand your business!

Upholstery shops: Anyone who can re-upholster can also upholster. If you drift around Market, you’ll see hundreds of iterations of the basic sofa. All that’s required is a frame and someone who knows what they’re doing.

Marble shops: From time to time, I run across a cabinet that is begging for a new top. That’s when I reach out to my marble guy here in town. Marble shops have lots of odd cuts sitting out in the yard, and they’ll cut them down for you for only a few bucks. I once got a marble slab cut down to my spec for $50. I made a kitchen island with it and sold the piece for $1,000.

If you place two unfinished kitchen base cabinets back-to-back, place two wall cabinets of the same height at either end, then add a slab and wheels, you’ve got a kitchen island.

Final Comments

You might not want to change your business model with any of the ideas listed above, but with a little time in the kitchen, a bit of luck and ingenuity, you may be able to augment your offerings and expand your business!


 

Peter Schlosser is a backend furniture consultant based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His focus is repair, quality control, exceptional customer service, and all things operational.  He is a contributing editor to Furniture World. To see all his articles Click Here.  Questions on any aspect of this article or furniture repair can be directed to Peter Schlossser at pschlosser@furninfo.com.