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!
Happy Veterans Day to all of America’s veterans and their families. The staff at Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture extends our sincere thanks to you for your courage, integrity and sacrifice.
As Veteran’s Day approaches I thought readers might be interested in some of the many interesting volunteer opportunities listed on the Veteran’s Administration website. You can honor veterans by attending Welcome Home events, helping homeless Vets, donating to Wounded Warriors or contributing to any number of activities listed on the VA website.
We are running a special 15% off storewide Veterans Day furniture sale in honor of America’s active military and vets, starting tomorrow November 10 and running through Tuesday, November 13. We will donate $20 from every sale during this period to the Adopt A Soldier Program. Check back on Sunday, Veterans Day to read more about this important non-profit organization. Once again, thanks to all our military personnel for your service!
Interior design is not a new concept. For decades, people have been making a living by creating works of art with furniture and accessories as their palette and empty rooms as their canvas. It is probably not a surprise that fashioning the perfect design for the inside of your home is crucial to how you feel and react in your environment. Interior design is all about aesthetics. It’s about taking items that are visually appealing and combining them with your personality to create something unique and personal to you.
With consumers becoming more conscious about their impacts on our environment, it is no shock that people are starting to ask for green, eco-friendly furniture and building materials for their homes. Interior designers are capitalizing on this trend by offering environmentally friendly alternatives when creating a design for a client’s home. Now this begs the question, what exactly does sustainable interior design mean?
Basically, the difference between interior design and sustainable interior design is the difference between beauty and beliefs and how much they mean to you. Sustainable (or green) interior design can probably be broken down into 4 major components:
- *Air Quality
- *Energy Efficiency
- *Building Materials and the Three R’s (Recycling, Re-purposing, Reusing)
- *Economic Impact
Air quality is very important to interior design. The biggest decision a designer has to make is choosing pieces that are free of chemicals that can make people sick or pollute our environment. This usually means watching out for volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) that can be found in paints, primers, glues, ink and cleaning products. Luckily, you can now buy furniture that uses glues and finishes that contain little or no VOC’s.
The area of energy saving interior design techniques is very broad. It can mean anything from choosing light bulbs that use less energy (like LED) to choosing products that are produced in America to reduce the energy it takes to ship them.
We’ve all heard some form of “The Three R’s”. Now-a-days it feels like there are many “r” words related to conservation. When it comes to green interior design, it is important to remember to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Choose materials that have been recycled, like furniture made from recycled plastic. Remember that there are many products that are made by re-purposing old materials, like Reclaimed Barnwood Furniture. And always keep in mind things that can be used again before you toss them out.
When you purchase items without checking where they are sourced from, you risk supporting imported goods, rather than supporting the local American worker. Always research where your furniture and building materials come from and support American jobs and our local economy by buying American-made.
Creating a sustainable interior design concept doesn’t mean that you have to be 100% green, but you can make smart choices that will benefit the environment in the long run. You also don’t have to overhaul your entire home to start a green interior design. Make small changes around your home, like opting for new cleaning products or donating that department store furniture piece and trade it in for one made in America that has little to no VOC’s. These little changes will someday make a big difference.
If you are an interior designer, check out the discounts we can offer on our Vermont-made fine furniture.
Explore The World of Real Wood Furniture
Columbus Day is a favorite time to shop for home decor as everyone’s beginning to realize that the holidays are right around the corner. If you’ll be entertaining family and friends for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or another holiday you may be shopping for furniture today. No doubt, like Columbus, you’re looking for America’s best. So set your sails for Vermont.
In the Green Mountain State you’ll find the best real wood furniture anywhere in the USA. Vermont is home to some 2000 small custom furniture makers located throughout our state as well as several mid-size, high end furniture manufacturers like Copeland Furniture and Lyndon Furniture.
Vermont style furniture is known for organic solid wood, clear natural finishes and fine craftsmanship. The favorite hardwood among craftspeople and customers alike seems to be American Black Cherry as shown in the handmade Shaker dining table above, although you’ll also find a variety of other North American woods including walnut, oak and maple.
With so many American furniture brands now making their furniture overseas, Vermont has quietly become the Real Wood Furniture Capital of the USA. I know of only one Vermont furniture company that moved its operations overseas back when the Asian exodus was taking place and that was Ethan Allen. The other Vermont furniture businesses have continued to operate successfully in the USA, remaining true to their communities, their employees and their quality.
You can arrange a tour to visit the best of our Vermont furniture makers and see the difference that real wood and authentic American craftsmanship make. Columbus Day is a great time to make the trip! Start here with this Map of Vermont Master Furniture Makers and maybe swing by our Vermont Woods Studios Furniture Showroom in Vernon VT on your route. Then let us know if you too, see Vermont as America’s best place to shop for the real thing in USA made furniture.
Two weeks ago we finally got our first snow of the year. It melted quickly and this past week the weather's been in the 50s and 60s. It's been a crazy year weather-wise in Southeastern Vermont. But on the upside, an early Spring is always a welcome anomaly at Vermont Woods Studios.
Other people must be thinking about Spring too because our best seller this week has been Polywood Outdoor Euro Furniture. You can picture yourself relaxing by the pool at this colorful, modern dining set… right?
Polywood beach and patio furniture is made in the USA out of recycled drink containers. The Euro set is one of many different Polywood designs including Adirondack chairs, patio dining furniture, luxury deep seating mission style outdoor furniture, garden benches and even children's outdoor furniture. You can customize it online in 12 different colors (blue, teak, tangerine, red, sand, mahogany, lime, lemon, green, black, aruba or white) and 3 different powder-coated aluminum frame colors (black, white or silver).
If you're thinking of buying new beach, pool or patio furniture this year, check out the Top 10 Reasons to Buy our all weather, recycled plastic Polywood furniture. None the least of which– it's the only outdoor furniture I've ever seen that carries a lifetime guarantee.
Polywood: colorful, eco-rfiendly, recycled outdoor furniture that's maintenance free!
I have to share some of these beautiful photos of our New Copeland Furniture Collection as we're adding them to our online furniture store.
Tim Copeland started his company over 30 years ago, and has built a reputation for world class, handmade, high end furniture in a variety of styles and designs. His modern mid-century Astrid, Catalina and SoHo collections are entirely different from anything we’ve ever carried before. We've already seen interest in these sophisticated, retro designs especially from customers in urban, metropolitan areas who are looking for dramatic flair for their lofts and luxury apartment homes.
In addition to having a fabulous sense of style, the Copeland family is committed to making quality American made furniture by skilled American craftsmen. And they're serious about environmental conservation and stewardship. No greenwashing here.
I'll be highlighting more of their collections as we work on getting pieces up on our website. We plan to have our online store ready to roll by the end of the month, but in the meantime if you need additional information just give us a call. Full color catalogs and prices lists are posted on the Copeland Furniture section of our website.
This week Vermont's Best Shaker Style Furniture is on sale. Find traditionally inspired, real hardwood, 100% American made Shaker Furniture for every room in your home. Our entire Shaker line is skillfully handcrafted in Vermont and is available in natural cherry, maple, and walnut woods. Solidly built to last for generations of enjoyment and use. You'll receive 10% off one piece or save 15% when you buy 2 or more pieces (plus Free Delivery).
Browse and shop our online gallery for your new Shaker bedroom, dining room, living room, or home office furniture. Or feel free to contact us at 888-390-5571 to order by phone or discuss your questions about our Vermont made, solid wood Shaker furniture. Hurry! This Sale ends at midnight on Nov 15th.
Reprinted with permission from a letter by Rita Settle to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel
My friend Deana clipped this letter out of the Orlando Sentinel and sent it to me after reading about our American Made Holiday Gift Challenge. We thank Rita Settle for her creative holiday gift suggestions.
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods — merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!
It's time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?
- Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?
- Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
- Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
- Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
- There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn't about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
- How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?
- Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.
- My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
- OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.
- Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre? Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
- Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine. THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.
We've been working hard to promote American Made products lately, in support of American workers who need jobs. All of our furniture is 100% American Made (100% Vermont made actually– well OK, I think we have a few chairs that are made in Massachusetts) but we wanted to do more. Dennis started our "Made in America" Holiday Gift Challenge event last month asking people to purchase "American Made" holiday gifts. We've got about 46 takers so far and you can add your name to the list if you're on Facebook.
Well, more and more with each passing day, it seems that buying American isn't just a patriotic thing to do– it's an economically smart strategy. In his Harvard Business Review column, Harold Sirkin sees a resurgence of USA manufacturing coming in response to changing economics. Chinese workers are starting to fight for higher wages at the same time that the cost of fuel and shipping from China to the US are also on the rise. Companies like Volkswagen are noticing– they recently opened a new $1Billion factory in Tennessee.
Now what will the big so-called "American" furniture companies do… like Furniture Brands International, the huge multi-national company that's bought out many of our iconic American furniture companies (Broyhill, Lane, Thomasville, etc.) over the last 30 years? Well they anticipated this years ago and have moved many of their overseas operations from China to Viet Nam where wages are still deplorably low and regulations are even more non-existent than in China. But that's for another day and another discussion.
The good news is that there is still plenty of American made furniture being built in the USA and the best of it is right up here in Vermont!
By Dennis Shanoff
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, we have always (and only) sold 100% USA made wood furniture. Vermont made furniture to be more precise. And the reasons this matters are many and compelling. Let’s start with superb, lasting quality and built from a natural and sustainable material. Well that’s good for your wallet and very good for the planet. And when you factor in the US jobs it creates and the local economies it helps support, well to me that’s when it becomes very compelling. Our product and service choices really do matter and can make a difference.
This past year ABC news ran some Made in America feature stories. You may have seen all or part of these week long series specials on the nightly news. They did a great job of raising awareness of how little we have in our homes that was produced in this country. And the obvious “reason this matters” drawn from these segments was how it has impacted the US economy and our jobs market.
So it did get me thinking that maybe I could shift at least some of my buying to US made goods (as challenging as that sounds). I would do my part plus I certainly have been experiencing some quality issues with my offshore made products, especially tools. Why is my father’s power drill from the 1950’s still working while I am on at least my 5th one!
And my next thought was that I couldn’t be alone in this thinking and that sooner or later a “Buy American” movement would begin. If ABC news couldn’t push this movement, no one can! Well the whole ABC coverage did inspire and encourage me to think more about this and ponder what a small movement with “spreading potential” could do? When could we make a really big difference? How about the time of year when we really ramp up our spending? What would be an easy to adopt theme? And then it hit me, holiday shopping is right around the corner. How many Secret Santa office parties will there be? How many school children will be partaking in a holiday gift exchange? And how many families and friends will be having an old fashion Yankee Swap! So why not an American Made theme holiday gift party this year? And that’s just what we are going to do here in our Vermont Woods Studios office and that’s what I am going to do when it comes to my family and friend gift buying.
In the coming weeks I will be posting on this blog the results of my findings and ideas. So if you are curious as to what I find or if you want to share your thoughts or findings please come back and post your comments here (or even better– on our Facebook page).
Now imagine if a million holiday gatherings follow this Buy American theme this season… well that will really matter! Join us and pledge to Buy American this holiday season.