Grumbles from the shop #7: Another gallery done gone

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 06-14-2009 11:15 PM 4796 reads 0 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: The world is her litterbox Part 7 of Grumbles from the shop series Part 8: Hanging it up »

Tomorrow I set out to pick up my furniture from another store that has closed up. In the ten years I’ve been building furniture I’ve had my furniture in four different galleries. All of which have shut their doors. One of them more than once. This one lasted a year. The hard part is knowing how much heart the owners of these stores have invested. Let alone money and time. I see this and I know the American dream has died. What is the average? One out of ten small businesses survive? How old is that statistic? I think of all the construction companies I’ve worked for that have gone belly up. One out of ten would be generous. What I find interesting is every time this subject comes up it is assumed something was wrong with the business owners. Not with the system. These where good hard working Americans. “let them sell prefab crap at Target” Is that what we have become? I’ve been working on a large medical building with around 300+ cabinets in it. They who charge $10,000.00 a day, opted for the $1.50 non brand hinges from Taiwan as opposed to the $3.00 known brand. A savings of $450.00. I expect the hinges to fail within five years. Did I say the hinge plates got back ordered and the only place they have them is Taiwan. Capitalism based on low bid will fail. The American dream is already just that…only a dream.

23 comments so far

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#1 posted 06-14-2009 11:30 PM

I would say that you are lucky if you got your pieces back from the gallery.

I know plenty of artists that had galleries close on them and their artwork ended up in the gallery owner’s mcmansion after the store closed. The gallery owners never let the artists know they were closing and their pieces were never recovered.

I know and personally share the same frustrations as you do when it comes to construction budgets and the cheap decisions that are made. I have done a lot of repairs and upgrades on commercial cabinets exactly on the items that you mention; hinges and drawer glides.

Right now I am really excited to have an abundance of work and I will focus on making hay while the sun shines.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#2 posted 06-14-2009 11:33 PM

Dennis: I’m glad you can recover your projects. And I hope that the work contuinues. Give them your business card when they want to repair the cabinets.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#3 posted 06-14-2009 11:46 PM

I hope that one of the changes in our society, that will come from this economic stress, is that people will learn to buy quality and for endurance rather than the quick fix and replaceable.

Just like the “100 mile diet” and eating organic has taken a strong hold on our society, perhaps, with a little education people will again start buying for permanence. Now.. how do we create this educational trend?

(and I too am glad that you got your work back from the gallery)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4074 days

#4 posted 06-14-2009 11:53 PM

Dennis, I am a small one man shop. I will ususally get a couple big jobs during a year. I do this part time so I do have something to fall back on, but I put a bid in a couple weeks ago for 30’ of upper and lower cabinets and a serving bar that was 28’ long. I was alittle higher on my bid, but was going to get the job, then a cabinet dealer ( premade stuff) dropped his bid $2,500 dollars. So no doubt he got the job.This also has me scratching my head. How can he aford to drop his price that much and still make money. I know that he is not saleing custom cabinets, but still $2,500.00 dollars is a lot to be able to give up. How much was he going to make before he dropped his price? I know that I could not do it.

-- F.Little

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14173 posts in 4005 days

#5 posted 06-15-2009 12:34 AM

A few years ago I worked at the largest air conditioning plant in the world. With nearly 2 million in mfg space it had 16 assembly lines. In its hay day it employed thousands of people. As a supplier quality manager I remember an incident that has stuck with me. A buyer found a better price on sheet metal screws in China. The price difference in volume was was only .004 cheaper per screw,with a very high usage the annual savings was 52 thousand bucks.

A couple years later the factory was moved to Mexico and closed. The average hourly rate in the US plant was probably 15 bucks an hour. The workers in Mexico made about 3 bucks or so. An Mexican engineer made around a thousand a month. Plant managers in Mexico made about 40k a year.

Change… a little off topic … but another grumble

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3698 days

#6 posted 06-15-2009 12:53 AM

It all started in the 80s with bust the union and the good paying jobs going away. In the 90s totally free trade took more. We are the only country in teh world with wide open borders. They benefit the large corps who are killing their own market. It is finally catching up with them. Today the economy based on credit is failing. Too bad it will have to get worse before the process starts it’s cycle all over again.

Glad to hear you didn’t loose your work to a dishonest gallery owner.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 3464 days

#7 posted 06-15-2009 01:01 AM

Hey Dennis, if all the companies you worked for are closed and all the galleries you supply are closed, maybe it,s you. You,re a jinx!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#8 posted 06-15-2009 01:08 AM

Hey Dennis
I’m sorry about the gallery but glad about you getting your furniture back. I have only made about 10% of what I made last year at this time. I’m grateful to have that much it’s better than ZIP.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4337 days

#9 posted 06-15-2009 01:40 AM

Yep kiwi…I know I’m a jinx. The furniture work I do is VERY non marketable.

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3897 days

#10 posted 06-15-2009 03:26 AM

Dennis – I just bid a kitchen in a 6000 square foot custom home – 79 linear feet of hickory cabinets. Only two bids were submitted for the kitchen, mine and stock cabinets from a lumber yard. The lumber yard bid was less than half my bid. Oops!

I always wonder why, with the word “custom” in the name of my business, people think I might have better prices than companies who build thousands of identical cabinets out of junk materials.

People’s comments about not getting furniture back from galleries makes me want to suggest that you get an acceptance document from the gallery for each piece, stating that they accept responsibility for the piece and it will be returned to you or you will receive a payment of $XX.

Hang in there Dennis. You do beautiful work. I know people who know your work. Have you thought about an online gallery/cooperative like Northwest Fine Woodworking? I don’t know if they are accepting members, but there are sure to be others – or maybe you (we) could get a group together to start a similar cooperative …

-- -- --

View larrysch's profile


9 posts in 3305 days

#11 posted 06-15-2009 03:40 AM

Dennis – Sorry that your sources are closing down – I am afraid that is going to happen more often than not. Its seems that we have become a throw away society – buy it – use it – and then throw it away. Very sad indeed. For our area – I see that the Dairy Industry is also going belly up around here. The paper stated that almost 80% of the dairy herds are going to be destroyed – that mean that most of the Hispanic work force will be out of work, all the folks that depend on the dairy industry will be hurting and that mean – it is going to effect all of us. I sure hope you find some more sources for the sales of your furniture and your projects.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#12 posted 06-15-2009 04:01 AM

Who is John Galt????

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3916 days

#13 posted 06-15-2009 04:30 AM

it can only get worse before it gets better

which in the end

gets better

hang in there dude!!!!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4322 days

#14 posted 06-15-2009 02:42 PM

Your dilemma reminds me of something I read quite a few years ago.

This shoe manufacturer was bragging about how much money he was going to make,

because of getting his shoes made in China. He had closed all of his factories in the USA.

Someone asked him who was going to buy his shoes if nobody was working in the USA.

I think the people in the USA have had just about all they can take.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4269 days

#15 posted 06-15-2009 03:12 PM

I’m sorry Dennis, you do make beautiful and unique furniture. I guess selling stuff on etsy and working for the man are your only options for the time being or coming up with a better mousetrap. You still have valuable talent I think you are going to find a way to make it. Just like guys like Mark D. You guys have too many personal skills to fold up and quit. I’m behind you all the way.m

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

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