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  • Writer's pictureTri City Furniture, Auburn

Today’s furniture…What is different from the 1950’s Part 1

There is so much to know about furniture and how it has changed over the last 50 -70 years. I am here with Kathy……you have grown up in a family who have been in the furniture business, correct? 50+ years has seen many many changes!


Many people remember going to Grandma’s house and she had the same sofa and chairs for as long as they could remember! Why was that?

Back then, furniture was build to last. Everything was overbuilt with heavy wood components and lots of steel springs. It probably was a floral or plaid, and because back in the day, that was what was popular! Those fabrics offered many color combinations and were great at not showing any wear! The furniture lasted a long time, and especially the fabrics continued to ‘look good.’…. The main reason it was all American made!


Imports are big business in many products. How are they able to ship large pieces like sofas and sectionals?

A lot of the large furniture pieces are flat packed, meaning they come in pieces. Then, put in containers and shipped to a location where they are assembled here in the US. The frame pieces are stapled together and then a pre-sewn body fabric is pulled over the frame and stapled in place! Many of these frames do not even have springs but use a trampoline material stapled over the frame! Add set cushions, and ‘poof’ you have a sofa!


Why wouldn’t there be springs in the framing? That doesn’t seem like it would hold up with a lot of use!

That is absolutely true! You are purchasing a large box, and is all covered up, top to bottom, and most people don’t really ask what is inside! You might assume there are springs in there because sofas usually have springs…..but that doesn’t mean that they are there! Import companies have the attitude, that, ‘if you can’t see it, take it away!’ That is how you can get it ‘cheaper’!


Generally it is thought that imports are lower cost due to labor costs. Is that true in furniture?

Yes, I would agree that labor is lower cost, but that cost is impacted by the high cost of shipping! Have you shipped a small birthday present to family in another state? It can easily cost $20-$25, and be very little wait. Now compare something 40” x 90”

Long and weighs 200 pounds….and ship it half way around the world! What do you think the cost would be? They have to use very low cost components, leave out a few structural parts and have low cost labor to balance out the final price!



Thank you Kathy for giving us some of this inside information on how furniture is being built. We will continue our conversation on sofa construction and the differences with American manufacturing next week! Thank you for joining us with this segment of DesignTime!

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