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Forum topic by nate22 posted 761 days ago 1489 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nate22

420 posts in 1471 days


761 days ago

I have been tring to sell my furniture for 4 years now. My wife and I have had a idea of opening up our own store with the furniture I make and some other things. Would that be a idea to look into or forget the whole thing. It seems in my area a lot of people will go to furniture stores to buy there furniture than go to people like me that make it. And if my wife and I do this what would be some other things that we could put in the store that would atrack more people. I live in norther indiana and one of the biggest flea market is in my area so a lot of people come between may thru october. Any ideas would be helpfull.

-- K & N Furniture Middlebury, In.


17 replies so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

11052 posts in 1701 days


#1 posted 761 days ago

Hi Nate. You live hear Amish country and they have a lot of furniture stores with plenty of items. Competition would be tough unless you had something to sell THAT THEY DON’T.
There a lot of things to consider when opening a store. You have to add up the overhead (electric, heat, water, rent ,taxes and upkeep and see if you can estimate enough sales to cover that and still make a profit. Also, to fill the store and to keep up with orders, you have to be the one doing it unless you have help in your shop or others making furniture for your store.

I guess I would try to sell in someone else’s store to prove the market first. Lot of new businesses fail because they don’t plan enough ahead of time.

I hate to say all this in the wake of your plans but it is something to consider…..........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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Tennessee

1447 posts in 1110 days


#2 posted 761 days ago

I agree totally with Jim. If you can get a cosignment deal with an already existing dealer who would be willing to carry your inventory, (space is a BIG deal in furniture stores), then you can find out how you measure up to other brands, having people walk by your stuff on a daily basis, determine your demographics and pricing, all without having the up front expense. You just need a few pieces of furniture to display and sell.
The last thing I would ever do is to open a storefront with an unproven product. Once it will stand on its own, then you can think about opening.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View DaveFFMedic's profile

DaveFFMedic

67 posts in 763 days


#3 posted 761 days ago

Nate,
If you’re considering starting your own business, then you really need a business plan. Woodworking as a hobby is fun. Generally, it doesn’t matter how much time or money you pour into your hobby. As a business, you really need to watch how much you spend. It can become a money pit very quickly!

A detailed business plan should include a list of all anticipated expenses. Expenses such as rent, utilities, raw materials, machinery maintenance and repair, insurance, and salaries (this includes the salary you intend to pay yourself). Almost every business loses money the first year and that’s okay. Your business plan should outline expected sales and anticipated profits based on the local market and previous sales. The plan should show when you expect the business to turn a profit. It should also include a dissolution plan in the event the business does not turn a profit. It should specify how much debt is acceptable and at what point you will close the business if the debt continues to grow. Also make sure you have in writing what happens to all of the business assets at that point and how you plan to settle all of your debts.

Before you open your doors, you should also have enough money secured to operate the business at least through the first year. I would caution you about borrowing money to start your business. I am not a financial expert, nor a legal expert. You should educate yourself about the various loans available and the local laws regarding liability. You don’t want to lose your home, car, or retirement savings if the business doesn’t succeed.

I hope you are able to successfully launch your store and wish you the best of luck!

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

180 posts in 970 days


#4 posted 761 days ago

I visited a store the other day that was dedicated to handcrafted items such as woodworking, jewelry, blankets, bags etc. The people that run it charged local people so much per item, per month, to have it displayed in their store. It was a store reserved specifically for local artist and craftsman.

If you are in a good location for lots of traffic maybe you could open up something similar. This would help you sell your own furniture and with charging people for selling theirs that may help with overhead and revenue.

I will tell you my wife was going to try and sell her jewelry there but they wanted way to much per month. They were charging a monthly fee for it being in the store plus a percentage of the sale. That was going to raise her items up so much that she would never sell anything due to cost. On the other hand they have got to charge monthly because they would get to many items that would take up space. If you could come up with a good formula it may work for you. Maybe something like charging so much per display. Whatever they could fit on that display would be say, $30 a month. The bigger the space they need the more per month. This would keep local artist overhead down while selling, and help supplement yours. Sort of a physical “etsy” store.

Just a thought.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

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waho6o9

4744 posts in 1173 days


#5 posted 761 days ago

http://southbend.craigslist.org/search/sss?query=furniture&catAbb=ssq&srchType=A&minAsk=min&max

Maybe start out in Craigslist as well. Here’s some competitors in South Bend In, at least you know what you’re
up against.
Network with contractors and other furniture makers as this might lead to some work as well.
The above mentioned advice is outstanding and a business plan is the way to go.
Best of luck and may you have continued success.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3336 posts in 1567 days


#6 posted 761 days ago

In today’s business climate I could not in good faith recommend opening a store.
Been there and done that.
I have struggled for 12 years at this and have never made a profit.
Thank God I have managed to keep a day job to support my retail business habit.
I have also had to work essentially 16 hours a day, 6 days a week for those 12 years.
It’s almost impossible to make a product and run a business to sell that same product and also have a life.
If you can’t sell through someone elses store, you likely will not be able to sell from your own store.

By the way, my business is not making or selling furniture, I make and sell jewelry. But, the same principles apply. This may be the first year I make a profit and it’s mainly because I started buying and selling other companies products with a proven track record and with large national marketing campaign.

The only person I have ever known who made a living making and selling furniture did so by buying antiques and repairing and refinishing them. Then with a clientele established he started building reproductions to go with some of the things he had refurbished.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

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bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#7 posted 761 days ago

This is one of those situations that can be scary for a first try at it and as others have said, you need a strong business plan and capitol to back you for at least 12 months.
We’ve been in business almost 66 years and have had a lot of experiences, some good, some terrible, some rewarding for us marketing our products.

We live and work in a mountain resort area in Georgia and near the lakes where the wealthy come to play, and sometimes spend money. We’re fortunate enough to own a small house on the main county road going to these lakes. We decided to make a store with it and knew it would be seasonal. We also had a store in a village near us that wanted to be one of our dealers for our farm and tavern tables.

When we opened our store for the season we had lots of visitors every Friday and Saturday. We’re well known here and a lot of the lake people already knew us and our work. We had built kitchens for a lot of those million dollar plus homes for these people over the years.

We had very little overhead in our store, light and phone bill is all. We sold 6 tables that season, not enough to warrant opening it the next season. The regular tourist that visit this area would say..I can buy that cheaper in Atlanta or where ever they came from. That sure is a beautiful table but I don’t have room for it.
I love the table but it’s not in our budget. I think you get the message here.

We do the dealer thing in the village next season and put tables in on consignment. She heard the same things we did. Some of the people would, after seeing the tables in her shop, would either call or come to our shop and ask for a cheaper price. At the end of the season we brought the tables back to the shop and set them outside next to the road when leaf season got started. We put a sign up on the road that said..Farm Table Sale 1/2 price. We sold all of them within two hours and called ourselves breaking even.

We have no more plans to open our store again or have a dealer near us. We do better from word of mouth than having to keep something going somewhere else. Our area is still being hit hard with the economy and we see it going down on us again soon.

Good luck on your project, think it out, have a strong plan, capitol and the guts to do it and see it through. And have something that no one else has in your area that people want or need.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View nate22's profile

nate22

420 posts in 1471 days


#8 posted 760 days ago

Thanks for all of the comments. I was thinking about it and with all of the amish around me it would probably be harder to sell and 99% of my business comes at least half hour away from me. I haven’t sold anything to anybody that lives close to me. I have sold one piece of furniture to a couple that lives in the same town that I do in the four years that I have had my business. Thanks for the inputs and comments. I think it would be better to stick with my first plan and try to get it in stores.

-- K & N Furniture Middlebury, In.

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AndyDuframe

48 posts in 2186 days


#9 posted 760 days ago

Keep building your tables at home and just advertise/market them online. There’s no way a physical storefront can draw in as many potential customers as quickly and as inexpensively as a website or an online ad.

-- http://www.ezwoodshop.com

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2094 posts in 784 days


#10 posted 759 days ago

Nowadays most people have the “Walmart mentality” when it comes to furniture (or anything else for that matter). I think there may be some room in the super-high-quality end of things. Another big issue is shipping as shippers nowadays only give good rates for volume. Sorry to be a wet blanket but I think it represents the current state in our society.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View americanwoodworker's profile

americanwoodworker

180 posts in 970 days


#11 posted 759 days ago

@montecristo

I think you nailed it perfectly. There are so many people I know who build outstanding furniture but cannot sell them because of cost. Cost of materials, utilities, rent, food, taxes, labor and on. We have to make so much anymore just to stay above poverty that pricing goods becomes difficult. They have people who look at it and tell them it costs to much.

Not long ago a buddy of mine posted some of his items on facebook. He got alot of local people really interested in what he was making but he could not sell any. He had a lady ask him to come over and bid on some custom cabinetry for her bathroom. He lost the job to some illegal immigrants who way underbid him.

In a college class I took last year we were told to read a book by Tom Peters called Re-Imagine. In the book he talked about how our economy was changing from a product economy to a service economy. It is way cheaper to build products over-seas than here. So now businesses here are turning into a service based business. One example he gives is UPS. How they are not only delivering packages but are also giving customers solutions such as packaging. Hence the term “What can brown do for you?” It has been awhile since I read the book but thats the basic premise of it. Not an easy read I might add. But if you can make it through it you will understand alot of what challenges the U.S. faces in the global market. I personally do not feel we can make it like that. But that is another discussion.

I always thought of using a selling point of you can spend $2000 on the entertainment center that will last generations or go to walmart and spend $200 for one that will last 3 years. Problem with that is people move to much. The average person lives in a house for no more than 3 to 5 years before they move or buy a new one. That creates a challenge because when we move we want new. We want new furniture, and it has to match. We want new paint, and the furniture has to match.

We don’t buy things to last, because we get bored easily and there is too much funny money out there. Credit Cards, loans etc.. Credit for us has also turned into a throw away item because we can get it so easily. Our grandparents worked and saved for along time to buy things and they took care of it. They bought quality because they new it was to expensive to replace. They handed it down as an heirloom. Not us, we get bored with it and get something else. Thus we go to Wal-Mart, use our credit card, and get cheap.

There are alot of challenges for us. Not only as individuals who wish to turn our dream into a reality. But as a country. I will admit I do the same thing when I purchase stuff. I have bought low end tools because of price. Then it breaks and I buy again. Finally Grandpa’s voice will pop in to my head and I will save up and get better quality. Then I forget again, thinking I can outsave my stupidity.

-- Your freedom to be you, includes my freedom to be free from you.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7223 posts in 2244 days


#12 posted 759 days ago

If you can swing it, a real showroom can be a good thing for
a furniture maker. It can be a controlled environment where
you can sell your work on quality and detail, educating customers
about what they’ll be paying a premium for.

A store on the other hand is obliged to stay open for walk-ins
and so on. If you want to go into retail, do so, but I wouldn’t
confuse it with running a custom wood shop.

You’ll get a lot more hands and eyeballs on your stuff trucking
it around to festivals in a 500 mile radius.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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MonteCristo

2094 posts in 784 days


#13 posted 759 days ago

@americanwoodworker

I know it’s no real consolation but the same sad story is playing out here in Canada, in the entire Western world I believe. I have a saying I like to use: “The guys with taste have no money and the guys with money have no taste”. I have lots of contacts who love solid wood pieces but none of them can afford to pay anything close to a fair price. A sad situation but all too close to the truth it seems.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

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Loren

7223 posts in 2244 days


#14 posted 759 days ago

The affluent often buy through interior designers and sometimes
architects. There’s a food chain in custom millwork. I don’t know
what your real capabilities are but do understand that the affluent
people who can pay for higher end work are not in need of
bunk beds so much. More like libraries, coffered ceilings, walk-in
closets and so forth. A showroom can help you win the clients
who have the clients. As I said, there’s a food chain.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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Jennefer

1 post in 759 days


#15 posted 759 days ago

A detailed business plan should include a list of all anticipated expenses. Expenses such as rent, utilities, raw materials, machinery maintenance and repair, insurance, and salaries (this includes the salary you intend to pay yourself). Almost every business loses money the first year and that’s okay. Your business plan should outline expected sales and anticipated profits based on the local market and previous sales. The plan should show when you expect the business to turn a profit. It should also include a dissolution plan in the event the business does not turn a profit. It should specify how much debt is acceptable and at what point you will close the business if the debt continues to grow. Also make sure you have in writing what happens to all of the business assets at that point and how you plan to settle all of your debts.

Thanks!
Memory Foam Mattress

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