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Why the Market for High Quality Furniture Isn’t Going to Disappear

July 17, 2014

wooden outdoor furnitureA recent article for the Wall Street Journal states that many people are finding it difficult to sell old furniture — even pieces considered to be valuable family heirlooms — when they want to downsize their homes and reduce clutter. This article, which likens selling old furniture to “junk removal” processes, states that the market for valuable secondhand items is so tense that people are even finding it difficult to donate their furniture. Furnishings that have a “dated” feel are often overlooked by customers in favor of more modern styles, sold at cheaper prices, from big-box stores. The furniture market, the article states, is simply changing so quickly that customers would rather take advantage of newer items rather than invest in older items.

On the surface, this argument makes sense. Anyone who has ever bought a piece of furniture and tried to assemble it themselves is only too familiar with the struggle of putting together approximately 48392 parts. And even though these furnishings are substantially cheaper in price, they’re also cheaper in quality. The chair breaks when you sit down on it. The outdoor furniture covers work except for any time it rains, snows, or becomes too windy. The wooden outdoor furniture is actually plastic, which has been painted to look like wood, which you would know if you read the tiny disclaimer underneath the product description.

What the WSJ article doesn’t consider is that the market for newer and cheaper furnishings is still fairly new. Customers often think that cheaper is better, until they buy a cheap product and it breaks. And they buy a replacement, which also breaks. And maybe that’s enough to change a few minds, but sometimes it takes several broken replacements for customers to decide that cheaper isn’t necessarily better.

But you know what? American consumers are smart. So here’s a new proposition for anyone thinking about buying furniture: pay attention to quality, and don’t be scared to made an investment even when you’re the only one doing so.

Take Amish furniture, for example. Consumers got really interested in these products in the 1920s, but Amish crafters had been making quality furnishings for decades before that. Consumers discovered that these furnishings are often made completely by hand (i.e., without electricity), that many products are made with 100% natural wood, and that Amish woodcrafters are more than willing to work with customers to create custom pieces for their homes. Storage shed? Not a problem. An entire set of wooden outdoor furniture? Easy. Personalized bunny hatch? Already have a model you can look at.

That sort of quality furniture doesn’t disappear. It may not conform to the latest trends touted in home-design magazines, but it’s not going to leave the market any time soon. Quality furnishings, like the products of so many Amish crafters, have been around for centuries — and there’s no reason to doubt that they will be around for centuries to come. Don’t let the new world of cheap furnishings convince you that good quality furniture is a thing of the past.