We first saw billboards saying “Chicago is going to get dumped” several months ago.
I thought this was a reference to the city’s two major league baseball teams. They had combined to lose 195 games, eclipsing a record set in 1948. Certainly the billboard was not referring to a furniture store. Who would name a retail outlet The Dump?
To see a dump when I was young, we had to travel to my aunt and uncle’s cabin in the far north woods of Wisconsin. A trip to the dump, necessary since there was no garbage collection, was a highlight for me at 14 or 15 years old.
My grandfather had taken small black-and-white photographs of playful-looking black bears frolicking among the abandoned refrigerators and old tires, but I was never lucky enough to see the bears in person.
(I know, we’re getting a little off the subject of contemporary furniture retailing, but bear with me.)
Anyway, The Dump opened its doors, in a building with a roof and walls, in a suburban shopping mall and we went to check it out.
There were no bears at The Dump, but you could buy a full-scale carved wooden horse -- and a lot more. In fact, I was surprised by The Dump.
Because of the name, I expected an unclaimed freight type layout, with pallets of unorganized boxes just off the ship from Guangzhou in a darkened and drafty warehouse. Instead, they had a wide range of furniture set up for retail sale. Most of the wood furniture was from China or Vietnam, but I also saw some Made in India tags on specialty items such as upholstered footstools.
A display near the front door featured distressed furniture, and they must have been swinging the chains hard back in Da Nang to create the appearance. The look, beat up and then finished, wasn’t a bad one, though.
The distressed trend hasn’t made it to upholstered furniture yet. They had a wide range of upholstered chairs, sofas and love seats. Much of the upholstery was made in the United States, including some well-known brand names that may not have wanted to be associated with any dump. They also sold mattresses, artwork and large rugs.
In fact, while many of the pieces were sold at low prices, they had a good mix of nice-looking wood and upholstered furniture.
So why call it The Dump?
The message, stated again, is that price sells. Low price trumps quality for many consumers.
If you make quality custom furniture or cabinets, do you need to come up with a name that makes them sound cheap? It might not hurt.
As we’ve written in our Pricing Survey and other articles, you have to price your work right to make a profit.
But you also have to make sure that the customer believes they’re getting a low price and a good deal. Welcome to the Dump.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.