So they other day I was reviewing the Facebook page of the business I have one of my two furniture booths in. I noticed a comment from a customer (well a past customer), according to her statement she stopped coming into the store because the furniture is “way overpriced.”
I understand that there are those that think painting furniture is not that big of a deal and anyone can do it. There are those that have a real knack for it and pick it up quickly. As for me I decided to leave my 17 year corporate career to make this a business. I wanted to provide excellent quality furniture, at great prices. But to make my business profitable I have to to take everything into consideration, all aspects of the business. Below are my top 10 areas that (I feel) affect my bottom line.
This is what I take into account for my business.
1.) A place to paint
I use my mother-in-laws garage (also know as “the Huny’s” garage). We hung the large drop cloths from the rafters creating an 11′ x 11′ area. That way nothing get directly on any of his tools or equipment.
2.) A place to store furniture for painting and for painted items
Right now I have furniture every where. In my spare bedroom, the loft of my studio, the enclosed trailer, the garage, and two storage units. Yes, it is an addiction and my family and friends are enablers.
3.) Equipment and supplies
Brushes, buckets, cleaners, sprayers, rags, furniture dollies/carts, putty, screw drivers, drills, glue, accents, drawer pulls/knobs, and let’s not forget the specialty paint, waxes, glazes and topcoats.
4.) Finding pieces (and at a reasonable price).
Hours searching craigslist, yard sale sites, estate and yard sales for those one of a kind unique pieces. I would love a clean no repair piece, but that is never the case. Majority of the time we find veneer separating or chipped off. Drawers are broken or the track is broken or missing. Knobs/handles missing or broken. Yet those are the ones I choose because I would rather repair a well built solid wood piece. I don’t like to see them discarded when they can be just as good as new with some care provided.
5.) Picking up those pieces.
We thoroughly clean and repair the pieces we sell. My husband is fantastic at repairing. We look at each piece and take notes as to the clean up, repairs, painting and finish we want to do. I will give him my ideas (a lot of time I get a pretty funny look from the Huny because he doesn’t think what I’m saying will look good) and he helps me bring it to life. (Goodness if you only knew how bad a piece can smell being in someone’s garage, basement or smoker’s house.)
EVERYONE wants specialty paint products AND YOU WILL want to use specialty furniture paint on their piece and those items are pricey. A quart of specialty paint is as much as a gallon of good quality interior paint, and all the finishes are just as much. I have used interior paint on furniture and while the sky is the limit for color choices it can take a lot of elbow grease to distress furniture with latex paint on it. We spray or brush paint our furniture but either way it does take time to get that furniture complete for sale.
All of our “for sale” pieces are located in a booth we have in two locations and we deliver furniture once a week. Sometimes we have one large piece or several pieces. To haul those items, our vehicle has to be large enough to carry the varying sizes. Since we have four boys I already had a large vehicle (poor thing just went kaput). Then we went to a larger vehicle and an enclosed trailer to help hauling these pieces easily. Early on we invested in the moving blankets so that our pieces could be hauled and stored with minimal damage. I can assure you nothing is more frustrating than getting to the destination and there is a ding, scratch or damage on it. I’ve wanted to crawl in a hole when that happens, mostly because it was probably a piece that tormented me from the beginning.
9.) Booth rental.
Since we are in two locations with our booth space those average booths come with a price. Many are reasonable but there are just as many that aren’t. Average size booth can be 4 x 6 – 12 x 12 (even bigger in some areas) they can start $100 – $600 in your largest sizes. So you have monthly rent that comes out of the previous month’s sales and you pay the mall owner 10% commission (this to can vary, but 10% is the average). There are additional fees charged to a vendor as well for example if a customer uses a credit/debit card you will be subject to cover those fees, or if there is a software that the mall owner uses to manage all of their vendors and their sales.
10.) For Sale.
Woohoo we are at the selling part, so what price should I put on it? How much did I purchase it for? How much work have I put into it? How much paint and finishes have been used?
Will people buy it at that price? It is a debate I have every time I determine a price for a piece.
Now does everyone that paints furniture go to great detail to provide quality painted pieces? No. But as a buyer you can tell.
Things to look for in second hand painted furniture
- Does the painted piece have smooth surfaces?
- Did the vendor take care taping off areas from painting or staining?
- Is it wobbly or are joints loose?
- Do the doors/drawers open and close easily?
- Also is the inside clean (i.e. inside cabinets or drawers)?
If the answer is yes to all the questions above then the vendor took exceptional care in bringing you a great quality piece.
So these are my basics and I hope it helps those of you that buy furniture, as well as, those of you who paint.
If you have any questions please leave it in the comment section I will be happy to answer the best I can.
Have q great Labor Day weekend and please kep Texas in your prayers!