Labor Day seems to be a good time to talk about American Made Furniture. At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture, we were excited this week to read that Maine’s struggling Moosehead Furniture company has been rescued from extinction and bankruptcy by Maine businesswoman, Louise M. Jonaitis. This 60 year old company, the largest privately owned furniture company in New England provided jobs for 250 workers in 2002 but was shut down in 2007 leaving the residents of Monson ME jobless and with little hope.
Moosehead is just one of the hundreds of small furniture makers across American that have been driven out of business by cheap furniture imports. Why care? I don’t think many customers realize this, but most of the furniture you see in the USA is made in China and other third world countries. Even furniture that’s specifically labeled, “Made in America” typically has only about 30% American parts in it.
So why has the US furniture industry collapsed over the last 30 years? It’s sad, but globalization has enabled the “lowest price” to trump all other facets of furniture shopping, particularly quality. Think about it. In China labor costs are about 20 cents/hour and there’s no health care cost added to that. And there’s no regulatory costs. So almost all the big companies that used to build American Made furniture (like Thomasville, Basset, Lane and even Ethan Allen) have moved their operations overseas. Because these companies save so much money in labor and they often obtain their lumber illegally, their main costs are shipping, warehousing and marketing. Cheap furniture–FAST is the way they’ve characterized “American Made” furniture.
At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve chosen a different path. We know there are plenty of people out there who still value quality and wish to buy furniture that will last a lifetime– something they can proudly hand down to their children and grandchildren. And the benefits of buying American made furniture go far beyond your own home and into the homes of American craftsmen: your decision to buy our USA made furniture means that local Vermont communities have sustainable economies and… the tradition of high quality American craftsmanship lives on. I think it’s a win-win for all involved. What’s your opinion?