American Furniture: The Benefits of Handmade Furniture

Handmade furniture is not the only type of American furniture sold under that name. There are fundamentally three types of home furniture offered by American furniture stores:

Foreign Made

Furniture manufactured out of the USA, and offered for sale by American furniture retailers. These can be high quality pieces, handmade in the UK to exacting standards or cheaply put together in the Far East and of relatively low quality. Not all Far Eastern furniture is of poor quality, and much of the stuff coming out of China is very good, but it is not made in America.

Constructed in the USA

Furniture assembled in the USA, but from foreign parts or wood. The parts have been pre-manufactured outside America, like much of America’s car industry uses parts made in Japan or Korea. It might be easier to find spares for recliners and other functional furniture than items made and constructed outside the USA, but not necessarily.

Made in America

This handmade furniture is manufactured entirely in America from American wood and home-made parts. You will not find it as easy to find this type of furniture as you might think, since not all screws, nails and other metallic parts might have been sourced in the USA. However, the item is fundamentally American, made in the USA for principally U.S. manufactured parts and certainly from American wood. Parts are easy to get if your recliner stops reclining!

None of this suggests that the furniture concerned is not handmade, although much foreign furniture, and some American furniture, is made by robots. True handmade American furniture is offered by a number of well-known traditional firms such as Stickley, Sherrill, Southwood, The Custom Shoppe, Simply Amish and American Craftsman.

Handmade Amish Furniture

In fact, most Amish furniture is handcrafted by Amish people living in individual communities whose work is marketed by local or national furniture stores or distributors. Take Simply Amish, for example. This firm is located in Arcola Illinois, and most of the furniture they offer is handmade by craftsmen and women within 20 miles of their distribution center. They use wood from sustainable forests located no further than 500 miles away.

This an example of local men and women handcrafting beautiful solid wood furniture, and able to sell it through a central retail outlet such as Simply Amish, which in turn markets the furniture through local furniture distributors and retailers. That’s what Made in America is supposed to mean!

Benefits of Handmade Furniture

There are many benefits of buying handmade American furniture. A major benefit is quality: sure, some furniture made by hand can be of very poor quality, but firms such as Simply Amish do not market poor quality goods, and such products would be returned as ‘unsellable.’ It is not the individual ‘craftsman’ predominantly at risk, but the retailers and their suppliers.

That is why the more respected American furniture retailers will market only the very best handmade furniture alongside their mass-produced standard stock. Handmade American furniture is constructed using traditional carpentry standards as used by the master cabinet makers of years gone by: men such as Thomas Sheraton, Gustav Stickley and Duncan Phyfe.

Wood and How it is Jointed

Choosing the correct wood is an art in itself, and fashioning an elegant piece of furniture using traditional carpentry joints that is as sturdy and strong as you require it to be is a sign of a master-craftsman. This is the quality only attainable with handmade furniture, no matter where it is crafted.

Britain, the USA and Scandinavia are noted for the high quality of their craftsmanship, and France, Germany and Holland have all had their moments in furniture history. Today it is predominantly the first mentioned three that provide most of the higher-end handmade furniture. It is difficult to beat the craftsmanship of American furniture firms such The Custom Shoppe, American Craftsman and Stickley, while Southwood are without doubt the premier producer of reproduction furniture in the USA.

There are many Amish furniture retailers that market products that have been handmade by individual craftsmen, using the traditional techniques passed down from father to son. The old jointing techniques are the best because they have been devised over time to provide the strongest and most enduring joint between two or more pieces of wood.

No screws or nails can match a powerful tenon or dovetail joint for strength and lasting qualities. They will still be bearing weight when the metallic joints have all corroded away! There are few doubts in the minds of those that purchase it that handmade furniture is the strongest type of American furniture available today – it is almost impossible to beat handmade American furniture for strength and looks.

Taking The Mystery Out Of Buying Furniture Online

Having been a part of e-commerce now for over 10 years. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of speaking with folks all across the country who have been in the market for new furniture over the years. Many of these individuals were seasoned web shoppers with a lot of knowledge about how products are shipped and what to expect at the time of delivery. They had purchased large ticket items before and shopping online came very natural to them. There are also customers I talked with who were making furniture their first online purchase. They had never purchased so much as a CD or DVD online before and were starting out pretty big so to speak. These customers were always very pleased to find what they were looking for but may have been somewhat unprepared or perhaps didn’t get a chance to read some of the information online about what to expect at the time of delivery or how the product would be packaged when it arrives. I’d like this article to be a guide for consumers who are new to purchasing furniture online and perhaps this will answer some more common questions related to buying furniture online that aren’t normally addressed when shopping furniture stores online and take the mystery out buying furniture online.

How is furniture shipped?
Furniture is shipped several different ways when you purchase it online and when you buy online it is important to read on the website how the product is being shipped so that you are prepared at the time of delivery to receive your new furniture. Most sites are pretty good about sharing this information to their customers so that they will have an idea of how the furniture is coming and who will need to be home to receive it when it comes. Below are the three common ways furniture is shipped when you purchase it online.

UPS/FedEx/DHL/ Ground Services
These are common services used by many online retailers and is used typically for items that are RTA (Ready to Assemble) furniture. [More about this later.] This packaging is small enough that one person can easily manage it and the retailer will usually provide you a tracking number that you can use online to track your package for the date of delivery. The delivery driver will usually bring it to your door but if you live in an large apartment complex or on a second floor they usually deliver to a central location.

These delivery drivers usually run the same routes every day and typically will come with the delivery around the same time frames of the usual deliveries they do in that area. There isn’t a way to schedule a delivery time with this type of delivery as these companies are just too large with too many packages going through their systems to be able to set up timed deliveries so it is best to be able to have someone home to receive delivery on the day they specify or if you know your delivery driver and you live in a safe area where packages can be left at your door you can always leave a note to leave your package.

Standard Truckline Curbside Delivery
These services are usually done through a truckline like Roadway, Yellow, Overnite, Estes, Conway, USF and so many more. Many of the products shipped with these carriers are too large for FedEx or UPS and need to be shipped with a carrier able to handle larger packages. Many of the products shipped with this service are RTA (Ready to Assemble) furniture but many others come fully assembled when being shipped with this method so it is very important to know from the retailer how your product comes packaged. The nice thing about this service though is you can schedule your own delivery for a day that works for you in most cases within a time window of several hours.

Standard curbside delivery service is just that. These are often delivered on semi-trucks with 50 foot long trailers that are not going to be able to back into your drive let alone go through neighborhoods with low telephone or powerlines or where semi trucks are prohibited from being used or can’t turn around. The driver will bring your furniture to the back of the truck but someone will need to be able to receive it and take it inside. Sometimes a service to help customers get it to their front door is available and can be added for a fee to the order. It is referred to by many different names. Lift-gate, inside first threshold, inside residential delivery and many more. The fees for this can vary greatly and if you can have help at the time of delivery this is something that is worth saving as most often your furniture will be in several boxes and typically one to two people can manage most of the furniture products shipped.

White Glove Delivery
This one has always brought a smile to my face as I remember years ago a customer telling me she was rather disappointed. I asked why and she told me that the delivery folks weren’t wearing white gloves when they delivered her furniture. Well… white glove delivery is just an expression used that indicates the furniture is being handled by moving professionals into your home. This is actually a very premium service that not many online retailers offer due to the high costs of the service. The advantage though is that a professional moving company is hired to pickup your furniture and bring it to your home where two professional furniture movers will bring your furniture into the room you need it and help un-box it. If your furniture comes already assembled then you are ready to go as this service usually doesn’t include setup or assembly of furniture. The important thing about this service though is it gets the furniture right into the room where you need it. Much like truckline delivery you can setup a day and time window with the shipping company to schedule delivery.

Is my furniture assembled when it is delivered?
Furniture retailers often ship furniture RTA which in the industry is short for (ready to assemble). This means that the product is shipped unassembled in parts and that there is some assembly required by the person receiving the furniture before they can use it. The reason for this is not to make it difficult on the person buying the furniture but as a means of packaging it in such a way to prevent shipping damage and by packaging it smaller it can ship by a less expensive means which helps to keep the pricing lower for the furniture. Some furniture is shipped assembled in the box though and depending on the size of the piece of furniture purchased you may need assistance receiving it so double check with the retailer if you are unsure. I always liked the retailer joke that said they tried shipping people with the furniture to assemble it but they often got lost or never made it back so they don’t ship people to assemble the furniture anymore. (Anyone need me shipped to Hawaii to assemble some beds?)

What happens if my furniture arrives damaged?
A very good question. Fortunately most furniture arrives just fine when shipped and rare is it that problems happen. However there are times when perhaps a forklift accidentally runs through a box or an item is accidentally impacted and it’s best to be prepared for what to do when this happens. Since it doesn’t happen often, customers are not always prepared for what to do if their furniture has suffered damage in shipping.

Whether an item is shipped UPS/FedEx/DHL or truckline retailers usually ask that customers look over the product themselves since the retailer can’t be there to help should there be an issue. Signs to look for are crushed ends on a box, impact through the box or areas of the box that have been taped over by the shipping company. These are sometimes signs that the furniture may have had an issue in shipping. It is actually best to open up the packaging and inspect the surfaces of the furniture to be free from scratches, dings and dents before you accept it. If you find something you can’t live with, it’s best to note that while the driver is present on the receipt the driver has you sign or to simply refuse the product due to damage. That way a replacement can be sent to you at no charge. Many customers aren’t aware that this is an important extra step in receiving their furniture much in the same way the retailer receives it at the warehouse when it is first inspected. It’s your furniture after all and you want to make sure it’s exactly the way you want it before accepting it.

When ordering furniture online you can take much of the mystery of delivery away by finding out several things. First, find out how it is being shipped and with what carrier. This will help you understand the information you’ll be getting and how to best use it. Second, ask how it comes packaged and if possible the weight of the packages so you can decide if you need to have someone there at the time of delivery to help you. That way you’ll know ahead of time how to plan for getting the furniture into your home. Third, when your furniture is delivered check it over well to make sure everything arrived safely and if you find anything make a note of it on the delivery receipt you sign. Ask the retailer up front before you buy what things you should do in case of damage. It’s a perfectly reasonable question to ask to be prepared in that rare instance that something does happen to your furniture during shipping. Fourth, enjoy your new furniture! It can be very rewarding to find exactly what you’re looking for online when you were unable to find it locally. This is the reason online retailers exist so that they can offer products that their customers want but can’t find anywhere else. If you keep these things in mind when ordering your furniture online, you’re sure to become a seasoned web shopper.

Finding Discount Furniture and Furniture Clearance Offers

Finding discount furniture is always worthwhile, particularly when available as furniture clearance offers when the furniture is in perfect condition. Sure, you can find furniture sales anywhere where the pieces are damaged or are single parts of what were once sets. It’s not very often you will find a clearance furniture sale when every single item is perfect condition and sets are complete. How can firms offer such high quality products at low quality prices?

Here are just a few of the reasons for top furniture stores offering discount furniture to you at such low prices.

1. Furniture Clearance of Slow-Moving Stock

Sometimes certain lines do not sell well and it is considered better to sell the stock at a reduced price than to use it for firewood! If an item has been in stock for over a year or more, then the furniture store might decide that it is time for it to make way for newer and more popular designs.

Initially, such items will be given a prominent place in the showroom and sales staff will be instructed to actively promote it. However, if it fails to sell even then, the item or items will then be put on sale at discount furniture prices and sold as a furniture clearance offer. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the furniture: there are no dents or scratches, but it simply appears not to appeal to the patrons of that particular store.

2. Making Way for New Stock

It is not unusual for a new line of furniture to come in, and the store has to sell off the old versions to make way for the new. You get this in sports stores, car showrooms and other retail outlets where products are subject to progressive updating and the previous models have to be sold off to make way for the next generation.

This can also happen with furniture, and in such cases furniture clearance sales offer the opportunity for high quality home furniture to be available at highly discounted prices. ‘50% OFF’ is not an unusual ticket to see, and some furniture clearance sales offer even better discounts than that.

The reason is that the old stock must go, and if it is not sold before the new deliveries come in then what does the store do? There are not many options, so you can find some amazing discount furniture prices available if you are lucky enough to be in the right store at the right time.

3. Display Discount Furniture Sales

While you might not find the bulk sales that you could with old stock replacement as describe above, you may be lucky and be in the store when clearance furniture prices are available for pieces that have been used on display. These are generally sold ‘as seen’, meaning that the store is not oblige to point out any scratches, dents or other damage. You purchase the furniture at a low price and assume responsibility for any problems associate with it.

This is fair enough, because ex-display items could be anything from perfect to badly scratched – what do you expect from furniture available to the public to try out and handle! However, the low prices of such discount furniture usually make it well worth while buying. Just think of it: brand new furniture is likely to be just as damaged after a month in your home as if you purchased it at only 40% of the regular price in a furniture clearance sale.

4. Special Purchase Sales

Furniture outlets sometimes get the opportunity to make special purchases of furniture such as recliners, sectionals and sofas that are not their own old stock, but older stock of the manufacturers. When furniture manufacturers decide to design and market new ranges of recliners or sectionals, for example, they cannot continue to also offer the previous range.

Just like the 2010 design of a specific automobile cannot be sold alongside the new 2013 model that takes it place, the older versions of a specific line of furniture have to be sold off quickly by a manufacturer when they design and launch their new range.

Such stock is offered to specific furniture outlets at knock-down prices to enable them to pass it on to their regular customers at discount furniture prices. Whole ranges of furniture of many different types can sometimes be made available in furniture clearance offers. It is sometimes possible to furnish an entire room at a fraction of the normal cost.

Finding discount furniture is not particularly difficult if you know where to look for it. Such furniture is of high quality and blemish free – the fact that a piece is offered at a furniture clearance price does not infer that it is substandard or that there is anything at all wrong with it. Take such offers when they are available because you may never find such great prices for high quality furniture again.