Since the economic crises of the 2000s, American consumers have made drastic changes in our spending habits. We are far more careful with our money, we eat out less, we give gifts that are less expensive but more meaningful, we make things last longer, and we DIY (a lot). In general, we are buying things that last longer and have more meaning. These trends have greatly impacted the furniture market.
Why are consumers craving one-of-a-kind pieces?
- We are downsizing: Trends towards smaller spaces (e.g. tiny homes) and minimalism means furniture must be compact because mass produced pieces are hard to cram into small spaces. One size simply does not fit all. In smaller spaces, pieces must also be versatile. One-of-a-kind pieces are necessary for furniture doing double duty, such as those that are both seating and storage.
- We are re-using things: Second-hand and vintage furniture are both growing in popularity. There is a significant rise in second-hand furniture sales among younger buyers. Of those who buy second-hand, unique furniture pieces, 70% are under 45, 60% have household incomes that are less than $75,000, and 50% live in urban settings. Additionally, 57% of consumers prefer This is for several reasons. There has been a reduction in disposable income, an increase in DIY trends (due to shows on channels like HGTV), and an rise in eco-friendly trends to reuse, recycle, and upcycle.
- We’re getting more of our buying inspiration on the Internet: The percentages for who is doing their research online before buying tend to go up as the groups get younger. For example, 80% of Gen Y-ers and 69% of Gen X-ers tend to go online first; however, only 65.5% of baby boomers and 44.0% of the Depression or pre-Depression generation do so.
- We love to get creative with Social Media: We are also choosing more one-of-a-kind pieces because we are more involved with our home design and décor (and therefore more focused on it) than we used to be. Design boards on Pinterest, idea swapping in Facebook groups, and our increased use of product reviews have all drawn our attention to the details of our furniture choices.
- We like to see our investments grow: With this new trend, there is a growing awareness of the quality and value of our furniture pieces. We are starting to notice that heirloom pieces can increase in value significantly over the years. For example, a Chicago-based auction house sold a collection of early-1990s designer furniture for far above the estimates. A sofa estimated at $3,000-$5,000 sold for $25,000.
- We’re looking for different features: The focus when furniture buying has changed from features like payment plans, delivery options, and brand names to the design, style, and functionality.
- We are buying local: Perhaps one of the more heart-warming reasons for this new trend is that there is an increased focus on buying furniture that is locally made, locally sourced, and made in the U.S.A. We are starting to support our own neighbors more and more.
What are the downsides to purchasing mass produced furniture?
Now that we’ve seen the positive reasons consumers are choosing one-of-a-kind pieces, the obvious next question to ask is What is turning us off from purchasing the mass-produced pieces?
Lower Quality: Today’s consumers care more about quality and durability than they used to. We want things to last. Mass-produced furniture just doesn’t. And, because we care less about payment and shipping options, we have even fewer incentives to go for mass-produced options.
Environmental Impact: Mass-produced furniture commits a multitude of sins when it comes to the environment. The manufacturers almost never use sustainable, local, or upcycled materials, and they often use imported wood that incurs tremendous energy costs for shipping. Also, many use pressboard with chemically-dangerous glues or plastics, thereby increasing waste, chemicals, and debris. While Amish handmade wood furniture is crafted off the power grid, mass-produced furniture wastes energy. It also increases the chemical toxicity and pollution of the soil, water, and air.
Similarity to Others: Today’s buyers are looking to express their uniqueness with their home décor. Almost 60% of consumers sometimes look for one-of-a-kind pieces, and nearly 25% of them say they always do.
What are some other benefits of original and one-of-a-kind pieces?
When we create custom Amish dining room tables and other handmade wood furniture for our customers, we love that they are getting something special:
Uniqueness: These pieces offer emotional appeal. Nothing compares to something created just for you. They also come in custom sizes and can not only be sized exactly right for a space but can also be custom-sized for a person. They can also be designed according to an inspiration rather than a copy.
Higher Quality, But a Not Higher Price: Our handmade wood furniture is not necessarily more expensive. In some cases it’s lower in price because immense overhead costs are not included in the cost. Payment plans are even an option through the design and crafting phases.
Heirloom Pieces your Family Will Cherish: Amish handmade wood furniture offers a timeless look that is impossible to replicate in mass production. It is all made in America and locally crafted from locally sourced wood. The inspiration is taken from nature herself and each piece conveys the beauty of the natural world. And, because they are made to be passed on to later generations, all of our pieces—from our Amish dining room tables to our exquisite sofas and chairs –are expected to last for decades.
View our infographic on this topic! Click to view full size.