U.S. Retail Furniture Dealers and home goods retailers have been hurt by several things in the past few years. Small business owners in retail furniture and home furnishings have been forced out of business
At first it was competition from big box stores like Target and specialty super-chains like Restoration Hardware and Z Gallery. Cheap imported knock-offs of American and European designed furniture appeared everywhere, at prices designed to eliminate the competition.
Then the slowdown in housing and the end of home refinancing took its toll. If you’ve been in the furniture business a while, as I have, you know that people simply stopped spending a while ago, before reports of a “possible recession” began to surface.
Smaller boutique and specialty furniture stores began closing, and they were followed by huge furniture chains including Wickes, which closed its 38 stores nationwide.
Have you been affected by any of the above? I was. It changed my life.
For 17 years I owned a small group of retail furniture specialty stores in Chicago and Southwest Michigan. I sold exotic furniture from all over the world, unusual home furnishings and art. The retail stores were like mini-museums with price tags, and we had a great following.
However, my best selling furniture designs started showing up in some of the big stores mentioned above. Not exactly the same furniture, and definitely not the same quality, but to undiscerning customers, the “look” was apparently close enough. And the competition forced me to sell many formerly profitable items a loss.
I had to be on the lookout for new furniture suppliers to find items to replace the furniture designs which had been ripped-off.
Then it happened. It seems that most of my furniture sales had been to either buyers of new homes or refinancers of old ones. It was the start of the decline in the housing market. My warehouse was full of furniture. It was enough to last two to three months, given the turnover in my furniture stores.
I wasn’t prepared for what happened. That inventory lasted almost three years!
The end of my furniture businesses was in sight, but I struggled to stay afloat. When employees left, I didn’t replace them. I became a slave to my stores, which were open seven days a week.
I cut back every expense I could. But the rents still went up every year. Eventually I decided to close each store as the leases were up for renewal. My landlords all wanted five to ten year commitments, with escalation clauses. That firmed the decision.
So, I was left with no stores and no source of income. Not a pretty scenario.
I started looking for what would be the next venture. It had to be something with no inventory, rent, overhead or employees. A friend had introduced me to a network marketing company a few years earlier, but that opportunity was simply too slow-growth for what I wanted. My goal was to find something which could replace the six-figure income I was getting from my furniture stores, and do it quickly!
After months of research, I finally found what I was looking for. Top Tier Direct Sales. I found a company which specialized in selling high-end products on the internet, and signed on.
I learned internet marketing from the company’s excellent trainers, and was set up in my new business in a few weeks. Sales started rolling in the next month. Now I work from home, or from the beach in Cancun, or from my i-phone. I love the internet and top tier sales. They gave me the freedom and money I was looking for.