Multiple store closings are opening up opportunities for furniture buyers, sellers

The Central Oregon furniture market is clearly hurting in this recession, with seven furniture stores in Bend closing since July 2008.

But at the stores that have survived, managers say, furniture is definitely selling. Some of the buyers are those who have weathered the recession well, the retailers say, and others have also recently bought homes - just not new homes, as new home construction in the region has all but halted.

"Deschutes County went from building four (hundred) or five hundred homes a month to virtually none," said Tim Duy, University of Oregon economist and author of the Central Oregon Business Index. "There's just not as much demand for the stuff that goes into those homes."

However, sales of existing homes are up. According to a recent report by the Bratton Appraisal Group LLC of Bend, the number of houses sold in Bend in July was up 40 percent over July 2008; in Redmond, the number of houses sold was up 66.6 percent in the same period.

For those who have just bought a home, furniture is next on the list.

Getting started

When you've passed the age when you find your couch in the 'free' section of the classified ads, the process of furniture shopping might seem daunting.

Nancy Glasser, who owns Redeux, a consignment furniture store in Bend, says it's a good idea to do your homework before heading out to the store.

"There are so many great magazines out there," Glasser said. "Maybe start a little portfolio of clippings you can give whoever you're working with so she has an idea of the direction you';re trying to go in."

Some stores have consultants who will come to your home and give guidance about what colors and styles will work with what you already own. At Feingold Home in Bend, for instance, there's no charge for a home consultation with a designer.

Jed Teuber, owner of Furnish in Bend, which specializes in higher-end, modern-style furniture, says that once you have an idea of the general style you're interested in, it's time to think budget.

"When you start furniture shopping, remember that your living room sofa, your dining table and your bed are where you're going to live." He advised focusing your budget on those items, and making sure you get high quality and style in those pieces. Then you can fill in with side tables, lamps and rugs.

Price isn't always the No. 1 indicator of quality in furniture. Pamela Armstrong, a designer at Complements Home Interiors in Bend, says in addition to utilizing the knowledge of a designer or sales staff, buyers should look at the warranty for clues to the quality of furniture construction.

"Comparing warranties is a good way of knowing how confident the company is, how much the company that makes the furniture is willing to stand by it," she said.

A high-end company might have a lifetime warranty on a sofa frame, but if the company's willing to offer only a one-year warranty, you can probably expect to be shopping for a replacement fairly quickly.

Upholstered furniture

Upholstered furniture can be especially intimidating to shop for, as it's often custom ordered and options can seem endless.

Cliff Feingold, owner of Feingold Home in Bend, suggests looking at floor models to assess the quality of the pieces.

"In upholstery, you want to look at the tailoring of the fabric or the leather," Feingold said.

Leather is more expensive, but lasts longer, and he says it improves with age.

Feingold also suggests asking about how the piece is made, from the frame to filling and coils. The classic choice for high-coil quality for a sofa is what's called eight-way, hand-tied coils.

"It's what your parents had," Feingold said. "It just creates a more balanced, comfortable seat."

Armstrong says some sinuous coil-spring methods are very good, but it's a good idea to ask a knowledgeable salesperson or designer.

Feingold says the quality of the coils and the quality of the frame can make the difference between a piece you toss a few years down the line, and one you simply re-cover and keep for decades.

Remember, too, when ordering a custom sofa, there will be a wait before delivery, sometimes six weeks or more.

Wood furniture

In modern homes, metal and glass furniture are popular choices, but wood is the standard for most tables and bed frames.

From oak to teak to cherry to pine, a vast array of wood furniture is available; each type comes with its own special considerations. Again, research can be helpful. Spend a little bit of time online reading wood furniture buying guides to help you decide what's best for you.

Oak is popular because the hardwood is particularly sturdy and difficult to damage, but it can be costly. Pine is much more affordable, but more susceptible to scratches and dings.

For one of those essential home pieces - the dining table - one big question to ask yourself is whether you want a solid-wood tabletop or a veneer. Veneer is made of thin slices of wood which are glued down. This method makes use of the attractive grain of a particularly high-quality log, while the base of the tabletop can be made from a more economical wood.

Solid tops are generally more expensive. They have the advantage of being able to be repaired or refinished, while once a veneer top is damaged, it's difficult if not impossible to fix.

But Feingold warns that the more expensive, solid tabletop isn't a good option for many people, especially in this climate.

"With the solids, you sometimes have the challenges with warping, cracking and splitting," he said.

Veneers tend to be a little tougher than solid woods, and the way they're made virtually eliminates the possibility of cracking and splitting with seasonal humidity changes.

Eleanor Pierce can be reached at 541-617-7828 or

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An Essential Report on Furniture Manufacturing

First Research is the leading industry intelligence company that helps sales teams perform faster and smarter, open doors, and close more deals. First Research performs the "heavy lifting" by synthesizing hundreds of sources into an easy to digest format that a sales person can consume very quickly to better understand a prospects business issues.

Brief Excerpt from Industry Overview Chapter:

Furniture manufacture in the US generates about $65 billion in sales from 20,000 companies. Large companies include Steelcase, Herman Miller, La-Z-Boy, Sealy, and Furniture Brands International. The average company operates a single plant and produces less than $50 million in annual revenue. Some sectors, such as metal office furniture, are highly concentrated, but the industry as a whole is fragmented: the largest 50 companies hold less than 40 percent of the market. The industry is fairly labor-intensive: average annual revenue per worker is about $130,000.


The volume of home furniture sold depends heavily on the level of home sales, while office furniture sales depend on the health of the US economy. The profitability of individual companies is closely linked to volume, since many costs are fixed. Small companies can compete effectively if they produce specialty items or high-quality workmanship that can sell for a premium price. Imports have become a major competitive factor.


Manufacturers generally specialize in either household furniture ($40 billion market) or office furniture ($25 billion). Within the household segment, wood furniture accounts for about 60 percent of sales; upholstered furniture 30 percent; and mattresses, metal furniture, and other products 10 percent. Products include "case goods" (bedroom, living room, and dining room furniture); upholstered items like sofas and recliners, kitchen cabinets, mattresses and box springs; and other items such as occasional furniture and home entertainment centers.

Key Topics Covered: - Industry Overview - Quarterly Industry Update - Business Challenges - Trends AND Opportunities - Call Preparation Questions - Financial Information - Industry Forecast - Website and Media Links - Glossary of Acronyms

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