Looking to buy top quality, American Made furniture? Our customers, searching for USA made furniture, often mention how hard it is to find out where a piece of furniture is made. That’s because there's been a deliberate campaign to make terminology and labeling deceptive.
Similar to "American made cars"... it's nearly impossible to find a definition of American made furniture. Most furniture manufacturers and companies we think of as quintessentially American often make their furniture overseas (for example Bassett, Broyhill, Lane, Lazy Boy, Kincaid, Ethan Allan, Thomasville, Pennsylvania House, Drexel, Heritage, American Drew, Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn etc). Rather than be up front about it, a common strategy is to complete the last manufacturing step (for example applying the finish) in the USA and then stamp "Made in America" on the label. Furniture giants lobby against any sort of definitions for the American made label because it does not suit their interest.
In truth, much of the wood furniture you see in American furniture stores today is manufactured overseas, and frequently the wood was harvested illegally from one of the world's rapidly disappearing rainforests. A recent article by EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Furniture & Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers, highlights the environmental damage being done to the world's rainforests by the global timber industry.
It's not just the environment and the fact that American made furniture is superior in terms of quality that our customers are concerned with. Another part of this equation is that Americans want to support sustainable communities and help provide American jobs. Over the last 40 years, tens of thousands of jobs for highly skilled furniture makers have been moved overseas, as so called "American furniture companies" have moved their manufacturing operations to China, Vietnam, Honduras and other third world countries.
Globalization has enabled the "lowest price" to trump all other facets of furniture shopping, including quality. Think about it. In China labor costs are about 20 cents/hour and there's little or no health care cost added to that. There's little or no safety or environmental regulatory costs. Companies save in labor costs and often obtain their lumber illegally from large tracts of rainforests that poor countries can’t afford to safeguard or monitor. Their main costs of imported furniture are shipping, warehousing and marketing-- nothing to do with craftsmanship or quality. Cheap furniture--FAST is the way they've characterized so called "American Made" furniture.
During the globalization process, many skilled workers (and their families) in North Carolina, Maine, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Vermont have suffered job loss and their once-vibrant communities have turned into ghost towns.
At Vermont Woods Studios Furniture we're working to restore those high quality jobs and help maintain the tradition of fine handcrafted furniture that's 100% made in America. We know there are plenty of people out there who still value quality craftsmanship and wish to buy bedroom, dining and living room furniture that will last a lifetime-- something they can proudly hand down to their children and grandchildren.
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.
And just so you know, Vermont has become the hub of American furniture making over the last three decades, as North Carolina companies have mostly gone overseas. At Vermont Woods Studios, our furniture really is 100% made in the USA. Actually it’s almost all made in Vermont although we do have a few craftspeople in neighboring New England states.
You can help preserve the tradition of American furniture making by becoming a Vermont Woods Studios fan on facebook or following us on Twitter. There you'll see updates of our "Made in America" Holiday Shopping Challenge too, and you can take the Pledge to buy only American made holiday gifts this year.
Thanks for reading and for using your purchasing power to build sustainable communities and create American jobs.
You can learn more our our efforts to promote American made furniture on our blog.