Lock Yourself in the Kitchen
Ideas by way of
Jagger and Richards for Furniture World readers to either consider or
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
. Questions on any aspect of this article or furniture repair can be directed to Peter Schlossser at