Tackling Longer Lead Times: Solutions for Purchasing Home Furnishings

By Elizabeth Vizzone

by ELYSIAN Magazine

Before the pandemic, the typical lead-time for a custom furniture order was 10 to12 weeks. In some cases it is starting to improve, but the new normal is certainly much longer, with lead times of 16 to 20-plus weeks for items manufactured in the United States. If you are ordering from overseas, the expected lead-time is even longer. 

So, when we are thinking about ordering new furniture, we need to be cognizant of the new timelines since they greatly affect the outcome of whatever room you are attempting to redecorate. 

I have been a habitual customer of outlet stores for many years – certainly long before the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions. During the pandemic, while restrictions were in place, outlet stores like Restoration Hardware became far busier than they had ever been due to the fact that they had merchandise in the store ready to take out. Shoppers could drive up with a truck and remove the items the same day or Restoration Hardware would recommend several moving companies to pick up and deliver items at a fairly reasonable cost. 

As a frequent shopper, I personally observed how the increased demand for in-stock furniture subsequently increased the prices at stores like Restoration Hardware and Design Within Reach. The price increases were sizeable and happened simply because the furniture was available. 

The prices were less than retail but certainly not the bargain they once were. 

So, many buyers continued to search for other options. Sites such as Kaiyo, Apt Deco, Chairish, and 1st Dibs became even more popular since the gently used furniture was available and ready to ship. All of those sites will pick up and deliver. In addition to their immediacy, these sites offer the benefit of increased sustainability. It is certainly better for our planet to repurpose a gently used piece of furniture rather than buy new. Kaiyo even plants a tree for every order sold. Shopping on those sites allows you to browse gently used furniture as well as vintage options. Facebook marketplace is another popular option to buy and sell gently used furniture. While it has a massive reach, one downside of Facebook is its convenience, or lack thereof. Facebook does not facilitate shipment like other sites, and you would have to purchase from someone locally and do the pickup on your own or with a mover unless the item is small enough to ship.

As yet another resource for available furniture, other buyers opted to research local artisans in their own communities. This proved to be another great alternative that supports local business in whatever area you happen to live. 

If you are still in the market for a piece, be sure to contact the merchant for the lead times up front. Ask if the merchant thinks the lead time will remain that way, or if the items could potentially take longer, so you can arrange for something to use in the interim.

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