It's a fact of modern economies.
Efficiency is a key to making profit. The most efficient way
to produce furniture, as it is with cars, is by offering
specific models and producing them in large quantities. This
worked well for Henry Ford in the early 20th century, and it
works well for the furniture industry today.
Assembly Line Furniture Production
Companies like Ashley, Crown Mark, Simmons, and Coaster have
become very successful by identifying the highest demand
consumer items and producing them at very moderate costs. This
keeps pricing low to the consumer and allows more people to
own nicer furniture. Prior to the industrial revolution in the
1800s and before, furniture was crafted by hand.
Hand crafting takes a skill and talent. Furniture makers
apprenticed for years under a master craftsmen before they
started producing their own pieces. Many of these pieces are
now treasured antiques. While not realistic for the mass
consumption, it is still possible to get custom made furniture
in today's market. Much of this is in upholstery.
Furniture Factory Built to Order
This is really a hybrid construction. Not fully mass
production and not fully hand made. The manufacturers like
Lane, Best, Capri, and Classic offer a range of basic frame
designs, and the customer chooses the covering fabric,
leather, or man made material, that fits their needs. This is
only slightly more expensive than sheer assembly line and
gives the furniture owner a customized piece for their
particular room or design. The reason more of this is not
available is time.
Assembly line product is pre-made and warehoused in large
quantities at many distribution points around the country. If
you want something in a hurry, it is generally available the
same week, and in some cases the same day. Custom ordered
upholstery usually takes 3 to 6 weeks from time of order. With
instant gratification being the order of the day in most
people's lives, this delay is hard for some to accept. There
are companies out there that take advantage of this. They have
built their entire business model on the buy it now, get it
What most people forget is that getting something instantly
does not mean you are getting a better product. What you are
getting is a mass produced product very quickly. Of course
there is nothing wrong with mass production. It simply does
not produce the highest quality. There has been a recent mini
revolution in the furniture industry as there was in the beer
industry before it. Where there are now dozens of
micro-breweries producing limited batch specialty beers for
the consumer, around many of the major retail areas of the
country micro furniture manufacturers have sprung up to fill
the niche left empty by the assembly line companies.
It is now possible to custom order casegoods products like
chests, dressers, desks that are produced in short time frames
at almost the price of the large producers. Customers can now
order custom living rooms and bedrooms for economical prices
with short delivery times. Made by local craftsman. This has
broadened choice in the market. Broader choice keeps prices
low to the consumer. It is a good time to consider new
furniture with so much being offered at such low prices!