A Furniture-Maker Relies on Secondhand Goods

I have only been working in the furniture industry here in Clinton for a few months, but I’ve learned so much about what it takes to keep a small business thriving.

Often during the holidays, local woodworkers and furniture makers ship away their tools, machines and unfinished furniture in anticipation of reopening the following year. They take the last of the fallen shavings and scraps to save themselves money and fuel so they can keep going in an area with limited labor.

I decided to capture all of the little machine parts sent away so I could take them home and use them to build the beautiful furniture I make. I make some of my own parts and most are made in China. There’s no denying that moving them back to the shop and reconstructing them is a big part of my craft.

Furniture is mostly made in America, but our system can be pretty wasteful and when everything makes its way to overseas factories, the process of producing things can be slow and frustrating.

When I took those pieces home, I realized how much furniture can be assembled in my little one-car garage and given away to friends or family. I then figured that it would be a great way to improve my business as well.

Supply Chain can be small and easily done in my home. I wanted to help Clinton, North Carolina, the furniture-making community to remain afloat during these tough economic times.

How we continue to remain accessible and resilient was crucial to our survival. I want people to know that what started out as a relatively small operation can make a real difference. The pieces you saw made here can be recycled, transformed into something else and then be given away to someone in need. They are our greatest wealth and we should look at our secondhand pieces with fondness.

Most furniture can be assembled in my garage in ten minutes. I like to do it in the morning before my busy day and I plan to continue doing it when the job is done.

In the old days, secondhand furniture from “council-man style” was not expensive. People bought like eight-burner stoves in the 1970s for as little as $90. Three years later, most of them could not do anything but roast chicken and the five-star amenities made them act like a monk. For the next 20 years, industrial appliances that had sat around for years on a ship’s engine room were made to order for a fraction of what they were supposed to cost.

These days, the four- and five-star kitchen appliances are so expensive, I bought a chest of drawers for less than $200. They have all the bells and whistles, but still make a great secondhand item because they are in great condition.

Our friends and family have helped us raise the money needed to pay for shipping, insurance and shipping costs. We have actually paid for shipping a few times in the past and it has not ever made sense, as all the pieces are one-time-use only and anyone that wanted it would be able to get it.

I have been telling people they can donate a product to this cause because if they recycle them, they give to local businesses and the money that we earn will then be tax deductible. Now people are starting to understand how much these beautiful pieces can be and not costing them big money.

This past July, through my company, I took a few pieces to the UN Sustainable Listing event in New York and we were accepted into the Small Business Innovation Fund. They issued a sustainable product award and our entire mission will now go toward helping us save money and reduce our carbon footprint.

Supply Chain is about helping as many people as we can, making furniture on a local level is a great way to do it.

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