With so many products being made in China, many Americans are sick and tired of supporting economies overseas. They want to spend money on items that are manufactured right here in this country. However, there is more to the Made-in-America slogan than meets the eye.
If you are searching for a sectional sofa that is 100% designed, built and created with American-sourced materials by American workers, you will now find a very short list. I can say with much certainty that the larger, more popular the brand name, the higher the chance it is now outsourcing production or materials overseas.
American Furniture Brands That Have Succumbed To Overseas Manufacturing
Remember all those wonderful furniture brands whose names were synonymous with American quality and pride of craftsmanship? Henredon, Thomasville, Broyhill and Ethan Allen come to mind. Having an Ethan Allen sofa or a Henredon dining set was coveted by many.
Throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, buying a quality sofa was seen as a smart family investment. Sofas were passed down from one generation to the next. They were built to last and had “good strong bones”. Sadly, the brands we cherished for their strong American roots now have the outsourcing bug:
- Ashley– Made in China, assembled in the U.S.A.
- Bassett-Assembled in the U.S.A with wood imported from Vietnam, Indonesia and China
- Broyhill-Made in China
- Century-Assembled in the U.S.A. with wood frames imported from overseas
- Ethan Allen-Made in Vietnam, China and the Philippines
- Henredon-Made in China
- La-Z-Boy-Assembled in the U.S.A., made in China
- Thomasville-Made in China
Built In The U.S.A.- What Does That Mean Exactly?
Sadly, many people can get the impression that built in the U.S.A. means that everything about that product originates here and was made here. Companies aren’t really lying, they are just omitting some details. Built in the U.S.A. means that an overseas manufacturer makes and ships pieces of a sofa here. Once it gets here, it is now technically “built” or assembled here.
3 Reasons Why American Furniture Makers Are Outsourcing
Why do large furniture companies now outsource from overseas when they could maintain an amazing selling point with patriotic shoppers? There are many reasons why, but here are three to start:
- Corporate Greed– If you don’t have to spend as much money for labor and materials, you have the ability to earn a higher profit margin on the items you sell.
- Shareholder Pressure-Few are aware how much financial pressure a large furniture corporation can be under. It has to answer to shareholders. They demand a return on their investment. Profits must be made and distributed; hence the temptation to reduce costs and cut corners.
- Being Able To Compete-Lower-priced Chinese products have flooded the entire world. Americans are now accustomed to made-in China options that let them pay much less money for just about everything.
Another reason why companies like Ethan Allen or Thomasville may go the outsourcing route is that they lean heavily on the stellar reputation of their brand name. They feel confident that they can change how they source and manufacture without losing their mass appeal to American furniture buyers.
Shoppers May Only Have Two Choices
If you are looking for a sofa to buy that benefits U.S. workers and their families, you may have to consider some type of middle ground. At least if you buy a sofa that is assembled in the U.S.A., your money helps your fellow Americans keep their jobs. Ashley, Century, La-Z-Boy and Bassett are good middle-of-the-road options.
My personal pick would be Simmons/ United Furniture. They offer full disclosure and have multiple factories in California, Mississippi and North Carolina that keep Americans working.
The Only Way To Guarantee A Pure American Sofa Purchase
I can think of only one way to make sure a sofa with an American brand name is the real deal and not imported with cheap materials; go vintage. You may have to go way back to the 1950’s or 1960’s models. This era produced incredibly high-quality sofas untouched by the overseas market.
Sofas from this era are sold as Mid-Century designs as well as vintage.
People that purchased a sofa with classic lines and took good care of it ( remember those vinyl slipcovers?) had something that would stay in the family for decades.
They were so well made that they look just as good today as they did 60 years ago. As time marches forward, it’s comforting to know that we can still experience the pride of American quality in these precious vintage pieces.
Image Credits: Flickr.com, 1950’s Sofa by Deldre Woollard, No modifications, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, Flickr.com, Hide-A-Bed by Simmons, June 1962 by The Bees Knees Dally, No modifications, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/