Do You Know Where Your Furniture Is Made?
Would it surprise you to learn that 86% of the wood furniture sold in the U.S. is not made here? That means the majority of America’s most familiar and famous furniture brands have chosen to export furniture manufacturing jobs.
Many of those brands may try to smokescreen that fact but it’s true. The trend began in the 1990s when lower-cost manufacturers sought even cheaper labor and found it in Asia. The snowball effect brought the industry to where it is today.
Offshoring was already gaining momentum when the Gat Creek brand was founded in 1996. Our view then was that the benefits of building at home — monitoring and orchestrating the supply chain from forest to finished piece — far outweighed any cost savings building in China or Vietnam offered. We’ve never wavered from that decision. And now, with the impact caused by the corona pandemic, we are even more proud to be among the minority 10% committed to American-made.
If given a full accounting, the price tags on off-shored products don’t fully reflect their costs. You needn’t research long nor deeply to find stories of illegal harvesting, exploitation of indigenous peoples and their forests, unsafe factories, abused workers and the environmental impacts of shipping materials and finished goods around the world. The ledger is simpler, kinder and more humane here in Berkeley Springs with a demonstrable return for our customers.
Our customers value the reassurances that the hardwood we use is sustainably harvested from regional forests; that our workers earn a good wage, receive benefits, have a safe and supportive workplace; that quality control is 24/7/365 to ensure their furniture is extraordinarily crafted, properly finished and is safe for their home and family; that their custom order can ship quickly with the smallest possible carbon footprint.
Perhaps less apparent but just as significant for our customers is the long-tail effect of their purchase decision. “It’s an investment in America, an investment in us,” said Gat Caperton. “The people in our Berkeley Springs workshop are not just Makers. They are local volunteer firefighters. They are Sunday school teachers, EMTs, parents and grandparents, the essential fabric of community.”
If there is one welcomed by product of our country’s current challenges it’s that we are reawakened to what’s truly essential. A healthy community supporting one another is truly essential. And so is expressing our appreciation to our customers whose purchases of Gat Creek make that possible.