Starting three years ago the list of notices announcing “going out of business” started to come across the fax, in the mail and through email. Phone numbers were discontinued and terms went from Net 30 with little or no deposit to upward of 100 percent upfront to even place an order.
This happened with the fabric mills first, then lighting companies, accessories and finally furniture. The design community is now left with a remnant of the business that once was, with terms that make you question if you're not just buying swamp land.
Of those companies that were able to stay afloat, having inventory stocked is no longer an option for them. Fabrics can take 6-8 weeks, and furniture manufacturers will not start their 6-8 week production count until they have received the fabric, which puts you between 12 and 16 weeks out compared to half that time prior to the nation’s financial crisis.
And if a product line does not sell well, it is discontinued quickly. This can mean that if the time between an interior designer making his or her presentation to a client to the time an actual order is placed takes longer than a month, we can pretty much bet that re-elections will have to be made.
Some of the saddest design fallout from the financial crisis is that senior living furniture design options have been set back 10 years. Some of the key players folded and either took their industry knowledge with them, or the companies that acquired their bones bought only the name and none of the knowledge.
As the baby boomers are starting to enter senior living, I anticipate that there will be players willing to jump into the senior living game and make an investment. Tweaking will be required to serve this market, which wants to act and feel residential, be bulletproof but still pay wholesale.