American Made Furniture vs Imports
While we’ve watched the price of most home decor items skyrocket over the last 30 years, have you noticed that the price of furniture has actually tumbled? It’s true. For a couple centuries we Americans prided ourselves on making high quality, natural wood furniture that was coveted around the world. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont and other New England states were leaders in the fine furniture industry.
But in the 1960′s and 70′s many of America’s big furniture makers (like Ethan Allen, Broyhill, Thomasville and Lane) started to move their operations overseas and superior quality became a thing of the past (along with hundreds of thousands of American jobs). Prices fell dramatically. Instead of preserving our grandparents heirloom quality wooden furniture for our homes, we began buying cheap, trendy furniture imports and replacing them frequently as breakage occured.
Natural Furniture for the Healthy Home
Fast forward to 2013 when home owners are getting tired of cheap imported furniture that ends up on the curbside in 5 years. And they’re worried about the health effects of toxic flame retardants and formaldehyde that come standard with imports. Especially in households with children, it is simply not worth the risk.
Families are coming back to American made natural wood furniture with non-toxic finishes. Yes the furniture is more expensive up front, primarily because the American worker is paid a livable wage (as compared to wages that often amount to just a few dollars/day in Asia). But the high quality and environmental integrity of American made furniture is winning customers over. In fact, many brands are offered with a lifetime guarantee, indicative of the superior value of American made furniture over time.
What kind of furniture is in your home? Where was it made? Is it time to rediscover the real thing? Learn more about American made, natural wood furniture on the sustainability section of our website.
Back in January we got a phone call from a journalist, Nina Patel who was writing an article about American made furniture for USA Today’s Home magazine. Nina had come across our website while researching USA made furniture and home decor. She become interested in our green mission as well as our promotion of American made products through the Christmas Shopping Challenge we’ve been sponsoring the last couple years. We chatted back and forth for a week or so and Nina gathered lots of information about Vermont Woods Studios. I wasn’t sure which aspects would fit into her article, so we’ve been eagerly awaiting it’s publication to see what she found most newsworthy.
We were excited to see a preview of Nina’s “American Made” story in yesterday’s USA Today Weekend edition of their national newspaper. The full length article is in the Spring 2013 edition of USA Today Home Magazine which you can find at your news stand or online.
It turns out that Nina did highlight information about our sustainable forestry mission as well as our efforts to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from. We are grateful to her for discussing the value of American made, high quality, sustainable furniture in such a high visibility venue. The movement is catching on!
American Made Bedroom Furniture
Our American made bedroom furniture sale wraps up at midnight this Thursday, April 18th with up to 20% savings on real, handcrafted wooden furniture made right here in Vermont. I know you’re used to seeing bedroom furniture sales that advertise 40 or 60 or 80% off when you’re shopping at the big box stores but those companies have to mark up everyday prices in order to mark down for sales. We don’t like that kind of gimmick.
Value is About More Than Price
At Vermont Woods Studios we work very hard to price our furniture accurately and make sure that everyone involved in the purchase has a win: the customer, the craftsman, the forester and logger who sustainably harvest the wood and of course, the environment. We realize that in the age of the Internet, price comparison often rules above all else. So we have a competitive pricing policy to ensure you get the best price available for the quality, shipping and service we offer. And we guarantee our 100% American made furniture for a lifetime of service to you and your family.
When you place a piece of our Vermont made furniture in your home we want you to feel good knowing that you have paid a fair price and obtained a great value. You can see customer comments about price and value as well as customer photos of our furniture on Facebook or in our testimonials page. Want to join the conversation? Comment below, on our Facebook or call Sean (who is– according to Liz–our Customer Feedback Czar) and weigh in with your two cents!
Just a quick reminder that our store wide furniture sale ends in a couple days– April 4th. What we have is our Create Your Own Furniture Set Sale. Buy 3 or more pieces of any kind and you’ll save 20% plus free shipping. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Choose from the largest selection of Vermont made solid wood furniture you’ll find anywhere in the world. Mix and match! With this sale, you can get furniture pieces for every room in the house: Dining Furniture, Bedroom Furniture, Home Office Furniture or Living Room Furniture.
Browse our online gallery or stop by our small showroom for the 100% American made solid hardwood furniture you’ve been looking for. It’s all backed by a lifetime guarantee. And each piece is built to order just for you, so it can be customized in your favorite wood: natural Cherry, Maple, Oak or Walnut.
Tips for Buying Fine Quality Wooden Furniture
If you’re shopping for top quality bedroom furniture sets, I’m sure you’ve noticed they’re priced considerably higher than the run of the mill sets you’ll find at Jordan’s or Bernie and Phyls. But if you want timeless, real hardwood furniture you’ll have for a lifetime, (something you’ll never have to replace) then what you’re really interested in is getting the best value, not the lowest price, right? My suggestion: first find the best quality furniture you can afford (here’s a solid wood furniture buying guide to help with that) in the style and wood species you love.
American Made or Imported?
Second, check to see where it’s made. If it’s imported furniture, you probably want to keep shopping. Honestly, I rarely hear complaints about the quality of virtually any American made, solid hardwood furniture (and the more local you buy, the better chance you have of getting the craftsperson or manufacturer to stand behind the product over it’s lifetime). On the other hand, there are dozens of consumer review sites filled with complaints about the imported furniture products found at big box stores like Ikea, Ashley and Bob’s. Quality can be quite poor and there’s little chance of getting satisfactory customer service.
How to Get the Best Furniture Value
Once you’ve found your favorite top quality, American made bedroom furniture, crafted of real solid hardwood, then start to work with the craftsman or retailer to get their best discount price. Remember however that American furniture involves using real, legal, sustainably harvested wood and American craftsmanship. Furthermore, US furniture makers don’t typically “mark up to mark down” so you’re unlikely to find “discounts up to 80%”. But often there is room for some negotiation.
Buy Top Quality Furniture in Sets to Get a Volume Discount
At Vermont Woods Studios for instance, we have a standing discount of 20% on bedroom sets* plus we offer a discount on full service white glove shipping and delivery when customers are buying 3 or more pieces. Like many online retailers, we offer a coupon code (BEDROOMSET20) for customers who prefer to purchase fine furniture online (be sure to “update cart” to get the discount). Otherwise customers can give us a call or stop by our showroom to receive the discount.
So my advice, if you’re shopping for the best price on high quality, real solid wood beds, chests, dressers, armoires, night stands, mirrors, blanket boxes and such is to focus on quality and style first. Find the American made bedroom furniture you love that will last a lifetime and then negotiate on price afterwards. My sense is that in doing the research you’ll find most USA made fine furniture is honestly priced and retailers are looking to give both you and the craftsman a fair deal.
A number of customers have phoned and emailed us recently asking what happened to Copeland Furniture in our online shopping store. Not to worry, it’s still here. We apologize. We’ve had a couple issues with the Copeland section of our website and we’re working as fast as we can to get them corrected. If you’re looking to shop online for Vermont made furniture and can’t find what you need on our website, please give us a call.
Thanks for your continued support of our work at Vermont Woods Studios.
Who Writes Vermont’s Green Furniture Blog?
There’s a lot of creative energy at Vermont Woods Studios these days and happily we have a number of talented writers who are willing to share our daily goings on through this green furniture blog. Pictured above are Heather Barrett (left) of Brattleboro VT and Loryn Dion (right) of Northfield MA who work long and hard on many aspects of our Vermont furniture store, including keeping you up to date on the latest office shenanigans.
Holiday Hot Topic: Made in America Christmas Shopping Challenge
The photo above was taken Friday at our “Made in America” Secret Santa party where each of us gave and received American made Christmas gifts. It’s part of our Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge (we figure with Americans spending about $586 Billion this holiday season, if all of those gifts were made in America it could generate 5.8 million jobs. OK we know that not every gift can or should be made in America, but still shopping “American made” can create a lot of jobs).
Not Just Red, White and Blue– Green Too!
Anyway, if you want to follow these two creative writers you’ll find their contributions right here every week. Besides keeping us up to date on American made Christmas gift ideas, Heather tends to blog about green furniture, Vermont Travel and all things adventurous and exciting in the Green Mountain state. Loryn’s been keeping her focus on Green decor and interior design but you never know what kind of provocative topics she might wander off into.
To stay in touch with Heather and Loryn, subscribe to this blog on the top right or join their conversations on Facebook. And keep a look out for insider secrets from their newly recruited accomplice, Liz Francese who’ll be taking you on occasional trips behind the veil at Vermont Woods Studios Sales and Customer Service. More about Liz coming soon!
Last minute shopping is inevitable, especially during the holiday season. The last few months of the year seem to fly by. One day you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner with your family, and the next day you wake up and it’s Christmas Eve. How did that happen?! Don’t panic, I have compiled a list of five last minute gift ideas or “go to” gift ideas for when your timing is a little too close for comfort.
Whether time has slipped away, a friend invited you to their holiday party last minute, or you need a gift for a co-worker you don’t know well, there is something on this list that will work for any person in a pinch.
Wine is the perfect go-to gift during the holiday season. Hosts love when you bring a gift that they can share with their guests during the party. It’s something that is useful, and won’t end up collecting dust on a shelf. Not only do most people enjoy a good bottle of wine, it only takes a few minutes to pick it up at the store. If you want to make the wine more meaningful, try to remember if you have heard them talk about their favorite type. If not, pick out your favorite kind and introduce it to them! Try to buy from a local winery whenever possible (this is, afterall, a Made in America Holiday Shopping Challenge). Wine from Vermont’s Putney Mountain Winery and Shelburne Vineyard would make great holiday gifts.
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate is a great last minute gift idea for everyone! Many chocolate companies have already helped you out by festively decorating their packages, so you won’t even have to wrap the gift. Take a look at Lake Champlain Chocolates‘ seasonal assortments. This Vermont based company makes their delicious chocolates without preservatives, and you can taste the freshness! Also, go to your local food co-op to see what your area has to offer. You may be surprised to find you have a hidden chocolate gem in your state too!
The winter season is a popular time to have candles lit around your home. Many people like having scented candles this time of year to get into the holiday spirit. The extra light on a dark winter evening also gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling. To avoid making your candle look a little generic and like a last minute gift, buy it locally. People like knowing the source of their gifts, and knowing that it was made close to home is an added bonus. Many local artisans create candles that can be personalized, or come with American made accessories to jazz up the gift. If you’re looking for a Vermont based company, Carved Solutions ships their candles out within 48 hours. Vermont Soap & Candle and Way Out Wax have a variety of scents and candle styles to choose from as well.
An ornament is a great gift for the holidays. Ornaments are easy to find (check the label for made in USA) and they are something that people will keep for years. They come in a large variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. This gift is great for someone you know really well, because you can get something based on an interest or hobby. Or, it can be good for someone you don’ t know well because you can get something a little more seasonally related, like a snowflake, that will be an addition to their decorations annually. Ornaments are also versatile-not only are they hung on Christmas trees, but they can be hung on an office cubicle wall or placed in windows! Danforth Pewter, a Vermont based company, handcrafts beautiful holiday ornaments that would make a special gift.
5. Gift Certificates
A gift certificate to a local business is an excellent gift; last minute or not. No one will think any less of your creativity because going to a free movie, or getting a free meal is welcomed by everyone. You can get a gift certificate to the person’s favorite local store, a bookstore, a coffee shop they frequent daily, a nice restaurant, the movie theater, a museum, a fitness class…the options are endless! When we purchase a gift certificate we are supporting local business, and helping the local economy.
Now that you have five last minute gift ideas, get off the computer and get to a store– you’re running out of time! Let us know in the comments if you have any last minute gift ideas, or share them on our Facebook.
Tips for a Green Christmas
Bing Crosby had it all wrong when he sang “White Christmas”. I’d like to think that your days will be much merrier and brighter if all of your Christmases are GREEN! Sustainably green, that is. Enjoy your holiday and give back to nature and to our economy by celebrating a “Green Christmas”.
Your Green Christmas Tree!
Ditch the artificial tree this year and opt for a natural evergreen tree. Many artificial trees are made in China, contain harmful chemicals and once they lose their shape or luster, it’s off to the landfill they go. Buying a cut tree brings a festive aroma into your home, looks better than any fake tree could ever look and acts as a natural bird feeder after the holidays are over that you can place outside. Better yet, try starting a new tradition this year and buy a potted evergreen that you can plant in your yard after Christmas!
Get out of those Walmart lines and support your local business! Or make your friends and family something rather than buying it. Recycled and reused gifts can also be nice ways of sharing vintage presents. You could also give a gift of membership- try a gym membership, guitar lessons, theater tickets or spa day certificates at local venues. A gift of membership saves wrapping paper and reduces driving! Any way you decide to give, just think about your gifts impact on the environment and how you can make small changes to give greener. If you’re thinking of buying American-made to support your local economy, check out our American-made Holiday Shopping Challenge.
Reuse Wrapping and Packaging Materials!
As tempting as the pretty wrapping papers at the department store may be, think about how many resources are waste by just wrapping paper and packaging materials alone. Try using old newspaper comics, fun cereal boxes or real popcorn instead of packing peanuts. Get creative!
Your green Christmas tree deserves some green Christmas ornaments. I found this great resource on everythingetsy filled with tutorials on making your own ornaments. Also, check out her green gift buying guide. It will certainly inspire some greener ideas for your decor and your gifts.
Let me know what your green Christmas ideas are here in the comments or on our Facebook page! And may all your Christmases be GREEN!
Getting Organized with Custom Bookcases
Custom bookcases might not be on the top of your Christmas list, but think about it. Whether you have a home office or you’re trying to tidy up and organize your books and media, custom bookcases could make your life easier and more efficient in 2013. Not to mention more beautiful.
At Vermont Woods Studios our biggest month for crafting bookcases and other organizers is January. Could it have to do with New Year’s resolutions? Must be, but we’re getting inquiries almost every day lately. I think customers are realizing that there is a 1-3 month lead time for ordering custom bookcases. So if you’re one of those people I thought I’d offer up some tips and advice about how to choose the right set of bookshelves for your home or office.
Glass Doors, Wooden Doors or No Doors
Are you really going to use those books or movies or vases? Or will they just sit in the bookcase and collect dust? Are they beautiful? Part of your decor? Or just obligatory (someone gave them to you and you can’t seem to throw them away) and you don’t necessarily want to see them? Do you put things back neatly? Or are you always in a hurry? These are the kinds of weighty issues you’ll need to unravel before you decide whether or not to add doors to your custom bookcases. Oh… and should the doors be glass to show off your chotskies or wooden to hide the mess?
One Big Bookshelf or a Couple Small Ones?
Once you’ve decided what kind of doors are best for your bookshelves, you’ll want to measure your space and get the cabinets to fit perfectly into it. Some people love the integrated design of one big bookcase unit like the Modern Shaker Home Office Center Cabinet above (make sure you can fit something this big up the stairs and into your room!). Other people like the versatility of combining several small bookcases in different ways. One thing we always mention to customers is: if you’re getting a series of bookcases that you may want to place flush up next to each other, be sure you specify “no overhang”. That means any molding along the top will be eliminated either on one or both sides, depending on how you want to configure the bookcases.
Measure Twice and Cut Once
We try to make it easy to customize your bookcase online, but it really is a good idea to give us a call or stop by the showroom to order custom bookcases, especially if they’re over-sized or designed to sit flush against each other. We’ll help you get all the measurements right for your space so they’ll be no surprises when your furniture arrives.