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North Carolina And The Forgotten Furniture Industry

Oct 27, 2015
North Carolina And The Forgotten Furniture Industry
When buying new furniture, you take into account the style, quality, materials and price of each option. Where the furniture was made is also an important consideration to factor into your decision. While some cities, states and countries are fairly new to the industry, North Carolina has a rich history relating to furniture; in the 1980s the state was actually nicknamed the "Furniture Capital of the World," even though the state got its start much sooner than that. Let's dive into the North Carolina furniture industry's history and learn how USA-made furniture has come to be the high-quality constructed pieces they are today.

An early start

Back in colonial North Carolina, settlers often self-manufactured furniture to create sturdy and practical designs. Functionality was a top priority during this time, and furniture was often made from the regional wood that was handy, such as cherry or walnut. Furniture making eventually became a more artistic pursuit and craftsmen sought to create decorative pieces for the middle and upper classes. These designs were often inspired by European trends, but they also adapted to American tastes and styles.

Growth in the industry

The 19th century showed a steady growth in the furniture industry, and some operations even sought to improve the manufacturing process by using steam equipment. Although this growth was put on pause during the Civil War, it later resumed at a much quicker pace. North Carolina, specifically the Piedmont region, became the perfect place to build furniture thanks its railway system and selection of hardwoods. These advantages made it easy for factories to produce well-made furniture at an inexpensive price for those in the South. By the 1900s, there were more than 40 factories producing furniture, and High Point, a city in the Piedmont region, hosted its first fair. This fair turned into the High Point Market, which is currently the largest furnishings industry trade show in the world (Encyclopedia of North Carolina).

The effects of globalization

The furniture industry continued to boom in North Carolina until the 1990s, just after the state was named the furniture capital of the world. It was in the 90s, however, when the industry started to suffer, as foreign competition caused many factories to shut down.

Although the globalization of the furniture industry caused the rapid growth of the industry in North Carolina to end, this state is still considered the capital of furniture for a reason. The High Point Market continues to draw crowds of more than 75,000 people every six months, and companies that sell furniture in North Carolina still work to produce high-quality designs for a reasonable price.

The American-made way

When you buy USA-made furniture, and pieces specifically made in North Carolina, you are allowing this country's history of crafting durable, functional and stylish furniture to thrive and avoid from becoming a thing of the past. The next time you're looking to bring home a new table or sofa, consider not only the price and style of each design, but the place where your furniture was made as well.

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