Buying American Furniture

If you’re sitting on a couch right now or maybe in a comfy recliner, where did it come from? How about your mattress? I am not looking for the store, rather the actual country it was made in? Fact Finders have been taking a look at just how hard, or easy, it is to buy American made products. Tonight, we take a look at the furniture in our homes.

If you walk your way through most furniture stores, the selection can be a little overwhelming. A sea of patterns, sizes and styles can make it pretty hard to pick what might be perfect for you. But if one of your criteria is that it has to be made in America, your job of selecting becomes a little more challenging. That’s wasn’t always the case, in fact a lot of furniture used to be made right here in Michigan. According to Bob McQueen, the store manager of Art Van Furniture in Traverse City, “As a matter of fact Grand Rapids used to be a big furniture area, where they made furniture, but not so much anymore.”

Instead most of the mass produced furniture that fills stores like Art Van, now comes from further away, but not necessarily from overseas. So let’s do a little shopping and see what we can find that is in fact made in the USA. If your looking for a place to sit down, according to Mr. McQueen, that is not a problem, especially when it comes to recliners. He says “You have Lazy Boy, and you have Southern Motion, which are made in the USA. In reclining furniture, you can find USA made furniture.”

As it turns out the same holds true for couches. You can buy an American made couch at just about every price point, but as with so many things we’ve found, you can’t go by name recognition alone. There are some brands that you hear the name, and you think “that’s American, it’s probably made here.” But Mr. McQueen says that’s not always the case, “Take Broyhill, some of Broyhill’s pieces are made in the United States, but some of them are not made in the USA. It depends on which piece you pick from.” So if you find a coach or loveseat you actually love, you have to check out the label, but you certainly do have options.

It’s a little different story when it comes to where you sleep. It’s very easy to slumber on an American made mattress. McQueen points out “every manufacturer I carry here is made in the USA. Matter of fact King Coil is made in Roseville Michigan. Sealy, Simmons, Kings Down, are all made in the USA.” Mattresses are big and heavy, to the point where shipping them from overseas doesn’t make much sense. So finding exactly what you want with a Made in America label is easy to do. (In case you are wondering Tempurpedic’s are made here in the states, but it’s a Swedish owned company.)

Switching gears to all things wood, and it’s an outlook isn’t so cherry when it comes to case goods. In the industry, case goods is the term used to describe items like bedroom sets, dining room sets, cocktail tables, entertainment centers and almost everything else made of wood. While just about every furniture maker that you know offers a line of case goods, most of them aren’t made here at home. Mr. McQueen says the reason has to do with production, “The way they can cut overseas with the laser cutters and our factories are just outdated to keep up. So a lot of manufacturers are cutting the product overseas and then assembling them over here, so it’s working in conjunction with China or Indonesia or whoever.”

A good rule of thumb as a customer, if it has drawers or doors, it’s probably not made here, at least for most big brands. There are some, like Ethan Allen that are still American made, and smaller manufacturers compete on a regional scale. In the Art Van showroom, McQueen says “we have custom line by Gasho. It’s made right here in Michigan. The Mennonite and Amish make it together.” So again, you can buy American, but you have to check each individual item.

And now that you have your furniture, what about the finishing touches? This maybe the hardest American made purchase to make when it comes to outfitting your home. As McQueen puts it “Most accessories most lamps, are pretty much all made overseas.”

While we may think that most manufacturing jobs are headed overseas, some companies are reinvesting in American workers. Art Van just bought and reopened a once closed factory in Hickory, North Carolina to make upholstered goods, a move that is putting 200 workers back on the payroll.

The bottom line with most furniture is that you can buy American, but more so with this than almost any other products I looked at, you have go piece by piece, manufacturer by manufacturer. Along that route think smaller and local companies, you might have a better chance of knowing exactly where the products are made, and where your cash is going.