The Millionaire Next Door

High Quality Furniture: Less Costly in the Long Run

Omitted from my online resume is the heading of hobbies:  “avid wordworker since age 12; builds rustic tables, cabinets. . . carves ducks, many from first growth white cedar . . . .”  As a woodworker I often make judgments about the quality of wood and workmanship in new and used furniture, even some antiques.  My admitted preference is for traditional solid wood furniture. Well made, traditional furniture is preferred by many millionaire next door types who see it as a lifetime investment. 

One of my favorite brands of furniture is Henkel Harris.  The quality of its wood and craftsmanship are grade A+.  We bought our Henkel-Harris cherry dining room set 30 years ago, and it has never gone out of style.  It seems to look better with age.  Plus I fully expect that one of our grandchildren will someday find a place for this in his/her home. 

I was saddened to learn earlier this year that Henkel Harris had closed its doors.   I said to myself, “just not enough wood oriented traditional furniture buyers in America today.”  Through billion dollar marketing campaigns consumers have become part of the disposable society.  I believe that some in the furniture industry are certainly a part of this culture.  More and more, as consumers, we are being trained to buy and replace, buy and replace again that which is “trendy”- so-called “fashion furniture.”  All too often this kind of furniture is made from particle board, some even from saw dust held together with glue.  And don’t forget Brand X, which is composed of cheap veneers with painted stains nailed together instead of pegged.  How long will this furniture be trendy? 

Because we are the world’s greatest economy,  it shouldn’t surprise anyone that we have the very best and most aggressive marketers in the world.   They are successfully convincing more and more people that furniture is no longer really a durable good that might last through several generations, but is a disposable consumption item heading in the direction of plastic razors! 

Admittedly high quality furniture is expensive.  But because of this quality, previously owned Henkel Harris, for example, can be a great value for those on a limited budget.  On my last visit to the Scott Antique Fair in Atlanta I noticed a Henkel Harris dining room set in mahogony (table, 8 chairs, sideboard and breakfront) for $899!  Today the raw wood alone that would be required to construct this set would cost at least that much.  Even if this furniture was professionally refinished you would still be paying less than 20% of what a new set would cost.

And here is some good news.  By chance I googled “henkel harris” and found the following message:

We at Henkel Harris are delighted to say, ‘Henkel Harris is back’ . . . . After only a few months of closing the Henkel Harris doors in early 2013 . . . .

3 thoughts on “High Quality Furniture: Less Costly in the Long Run”

  1. We definitely feel this way in the All three bed sets were inherited from various grand and great grandparents.Beautiful walnut and oak sets that will probably go to our grandkids. Walnut dining set built by my MND F-I-Law in the seventies,antique barrister bought at auction, kitchen table from antique ,antiquefirf (interesting choice for wood, I know. It has a charming design, and personally significant provenance).ir desk from former employer.Any furniture showing too much wear is easily repaired and refinished.

    Why buy new when older furniture is made better, holds its value better, and costs less?

    Too quote my fil, “Any idiot can pay full price!”

  2. We always buy real wood furniture, except for some pieces like bookcases. Just got one from Staples in Aug. 2013 for $65, with a $30 off coupon and free shipping. We did pay almost $5,000 for our bedroom set though, made in Massachusetts. But with some items, sometimes the cost for utility can be so low that it just makes sense.

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