Slightly OT (ok, maybe way OT)

Hello all, Last year during the SARS epidemic I read one of the ramifications was that the quality of wooden furniture coming from Asia would suffer. Mainly because most of the Quality Control staff consisted of westerners working there for American companies. And most of them didn't want to travel there. Quite understandable. What really surprised me was that they said 90% of furniture sold here is now made in China.... Is that an accurate figure??? As a Tool and Die Maker, my trade has been decimated by Chinese/Taiwanese competition. Has the wood working trade experienced anything like this? A tool maker here makes around $25 an hour, a Taiwanese tool maker makes half that and his Chinese counterpart makes $3 a day. That's no typo, $3 a day in China. And to avoid a political slant, I won't bring up tariffs. My preference in furniture is Amish, which as far as I know is not imported. I doubt that red oak can grow in Asia. Are there any craftsmen (or craftswomen) or manufacturers that have felt this kind of competition? TIA, Mark
BTW, I hope to graduate from lurker to worthy contributor one day. Since I have sold some income property, I now have the time (and money) to get back to woodworking. Just making my shopping list to fill my basement.
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When a customer comes in and says "I found one at Standard Furniture (Canadian furniture discount warehouse) for half what you want to charge..." I say, "Great! Go buy it then" There is no point trying to debate the differences. These sort of folks are cheap; quality and refinement don't matter to them. And they're high maintenance customers not worth the hassle anyways.
Most furniture is made in Asia, South America... and it shows; it's always been that way. I highly doubt good quality furniture will ever come from an Asian or other developing nations factories. Yes a machine can carve out a claw and ball foot, but it pales miserably next to a hand carved one. And for most, price is far more important than beauty and quality. Therefore you will always have a ready waiting market for cheap ugly furniture.
Those who want a good quality, well refined piece will seek out a local reputable craftsman. Those are the ones professional long standing woodworkers do business with. It's always been a small market, I don't see it ever changing. When your name gets known, you've always got work. That's seems to be one thing with the rich, they want their luxuries even when they're laying off 3/4 of their staff.
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nospam wrote:

Based on my little section of the market, I'd say yes. I've been working for a furniture distributor (reseller) for going on seven years now. Taking just the futon end of things, I've seen our line go from 98% American to 98% imported in that time. I personally picked up the final shipment just before the doors closed forever at one factory, and I've known of three others to fold in this time. The last one is hanging on by a thread, with several of its employees gone. I used to pick up so much stuff that it was a real problem in geometry figuring out how to jam it all onto the truck. The last time I was there, I picked up two pallets half full, and a box of spare hardware parts.
Decimated sounds right.
For our part, the boss said he had no choice but to pick up the imports. Sell what people will buy, or go broke like the factories we're no longer buying from. It's an ugly thing, but I guess I'd rather shove cheap imports off my truck than go drive for someone else. I frequently hate what I do for a living, but I like the people for whom I do it very much. I don't want to see my company go belly up.

Everyone, everywhere is feeling that kind of competition. Upholsterd goods are one of the last segments of furniture that's still predominantly produced in the US. Rumor has it that the Chinese have figured out a way to ship that stuff without it getting funky in transit, so within a few years we'll be seeing Chinese sofas, and even Chinese mattresses putting our people down.

Makin' a list, checkin' it twice, gonna get me a saw that cuts really nice...
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Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
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