How is local business affecting area furniture makers?
Local customers — and the lack thereof — has affected a pair of merchants in different ways and in one case, a Hoffman Estates furniture maker took on a second job to make ends meet.
Burress Amish Furniture in Elgin sells all sorts of solid wood furniture made by Amish people living in Ohio.
Joanne Scara, the store's marketing associate, estimates that half of the store's clientele hails from the surrounding area.
Customers typically discover the 29-year-old store online, then come in to see what it's selling — merchandise is not available for purchase online.
The most popular items at the moment are dining room tables and chairs, which people are snapping up for the holiday season. Cabinets and media centers for plasma televisions are also moving quickly.
About 90 percent of the store's inventory is custom made, as there's a high demand for custom furniture, she says.
"We cater to people's individual tastes and needs pretty specifically," Scara said.
But the economy has affected sales these past four years, she says, as people aren't buying as many new homes or moving as much. Even so, business from locals has helped the store weather the economy.
"There's less demand for new furniture, but we still have considerable demand and the local business is helping us to thrive in the area that we're in," Scara said.
The story is a bit different for Gerry Adams, owner of Custom Wood Accents in Hoffman Estates.
Adams, a woodworker and furniture maker, started his business in 2006, two years before the economic meltdown. All of Adams' business is local.
Instead of buying new furniture from him, customers occasionally asked Adams to repair, refurbish and re-purpose their existing furniture — services he doesn't offer. He saw less interest in both higher-end and custom furniture.
"I saw, going back to 2008, I dropped off in orders," Adams said. "That happened almost immediately, it seemed like."
The dip in the economy forced Adams to take a second job as an industrial salesman, a career he pursued before he opened his furniture shop.
"My regular job definitely is a good thing, so I'm not as stressed, that's for sure," Adams said.
Adams now works part time at Custom Wood Accents, which he runs out of his home. But he looks forward to the day he can pursue his passion full time.
"That would be nice," Adams said. "Not sure when it's going to happen, but yeah, definitely."
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