Friday, September 4, 2009
Taking the mystery out of a custom sofa's cost
I know that costs are extremely opaque to most people when it comes to buying furniture and understanding what they are getting. Recently I had a customer approach me about a custom made sofa. Then, this morning I read a blog that I follow, expressing outrage about seeing a $7000 sofa in a store and being "lectured" about why the cheaper ones were not worth it. Obviously it is not a great sales technique to hector your potential clients. I'm not sure if the cheaper ones were "worth it" or not - maybe they were. But if you want a custom made sofa, and you want it to be sustainable and well made, a $7000 retail number is not a scam and not far off where it will cost. (of course deals can be made and are always done off of that number) Here is my response to the blogger:
"I always enjoy your blog posts. However, your latest post got the blood flowing this morning. Here's the deal: If you want a couch made in Vietnam, China or wherever Ikea makes sofas there are lots of options between $500 - $2500. Some of these are more or less well made and some are not. Some use solid wood and some use particle board for the frames. Some use screws and some use traditional jointery and glue. There is such a variety of quality out there that unless you have hard information it is difficult to know how well the sofa is made. I don't believe an Ikea couch will last 30 years. A good sofa - meaning constructed the correct way with solid wood and a high quality suspension will last that long or longer. Its a personal choice about your budget of course and everyone has to make that call. But in regard to your outrageous $7000 sofa, here is why, in very nuts and bolts terms: If I make a sofa custom made and in the USA, it is also going to be a green or sustainable product as well as lasting a life time. There is no way I can produce a sofa for under about $1500 including frame, suspension and upholstery labor. Add materials - about 20 yards for a good size sofa - and at a modest $40 a yard you have another $800. Now the cost of the unit is $2300. That is my manufacturing cost. Add 25- 30% for mark up and you have a wholesale number of at least $2875. You figure retail doubles at least the wholesale cost and has to add in shipping and now you have a retail cost of about $6000. Not too far off your number that you thought was outrageous. I understand that not everyone can afford a $6000 sofa, but if you want one made of the highest quality, you want it made in the US and you want it to be sustainable, that is what it costs. This is not a rip off or a scam. This is what US manufacturers have to charge in order to survive. Otherwise all of our manufacturing will be gone. You will not have a choice of anything to buy that is made in this country. This is the challenge I face every day in educating my clients. This is the challenge I face in trying to sell next to cheap imports. I pay my workers a decent wage and they get health insurance. As a consumer you have all the choices in the world."