In last week’s “Current in Carmel” weekly newspaper, one of the weekly columnists discussed the lack of value in furniture marketed by national chains. In the article, she referenced a study completed by Smart Money Magazine in 2006 which revealed the lack of quality construction techniques and materials used in home furnishings sold by trendy “lifestyle” retailers. The article was titled “Pottery Barn Unstuffed”.

Also referenced in the article are items sold by Restoration Hardware and Crate and Barrel. To summarize the article, buying furniture at the aforementioned stores is not neccessarily “smart” use of your money.

Poor quality veneers, low-grade adhesives, cardboard (yes, cardboard!) frames on upholstered furniture…this stuff is made to be thrown away after it’s life expectancy, which gets shortened considerably if you use the furniture for any purpose other than to just look at. In addition, the slickly-created advertising for these items is a total misrepresentation of the contents and materials.

Our April auction is replete with the polar opposite of these items, as home furnishings are concerned. Much of it was produced in either North Carolina or Grand Rapids, MI, using American hardwoods and hardware, hand-assembled by American craftsmen. After an international exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876, Grand Rapids became recognized worldwide as a leader in the production of fine furniture. National home furnishing markets were held in Grand Rapids for about 75 years, concluding in the 1960s, then moved to North Carolina, probably for better weather.

This auction includes high-quality furniture by companies such as Baker (pre-Kohler), Henredon, Kittinger, Statton, Davis Cabinet Company, Drexel/Heritage/Morganton and a few others. An auctioneer friend of mine uses the term “antiques of the future” as a cheesy sales line, but these quality items in our April sale do, in fact, represent generational furniture. Produced with quality and sold via select decorators and high-end retailers, these are the type of items that, with proper care, can actually be passed from generation to generation.

For less than the cost of a made-in-China, Crate and Barrel leather sofa, a buyer at our April 18 auction will likely obtain a Henredon dining room table with eight chairs that was made in America in the 1980’s, using the finest quality solid-brass hardware, kiln-dried, solid grade-one hardwoods, thick veneers and quality control that didn’t allow sub-par objects out of the factory to benefit the bottom line for shareholders.

Anyone, from younger couples on a budget furnishing a first home, to a second-home buyer looking to furnish the large family home, to a downsizer needing just a few quality items to accentuate the space of a condo or townhome, will appreciate the quality, craftsmanship and timeless style of furnishings made in the mid to late 20th century in the United States.

Why spend money on items that are made overseas by companies using shoddy materials assembled with unskillled labor, when fewer dollars can be spent to acquire pre-owned, finest quality furniture that will outlast the owner’s desire to use it? And, those dollars stay in the United States, at a time when our government is giving ‘bailout’ money to companies that are servicing overseas debt with our tax dollars. In addition, buying pre-owned items at auction is ‘greener’, as another motivation for you.

Come see the selection we have in this April 18 auction, and be open to the idea of avoiding trendy, national retail stores when a new end table, area rug or dining room suite is needed. Quality is all around us this month, and some wise bidders are going to take home some treasures for less than will be spent on a stainless steel spoon rest at Crate and Barrel.

Make a point to visit our showroom this Friday for our gallery preview from 2-7 pm, or preview our catalogue here.

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