Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

May 14, 2014

Store partners with manufacturer

TRAVERSE CITY — Golden-Fowler Home Furnishings President Michael Mahn said the business on Garfield Road is drastically reducing its stock of foreign-made furniture.

The business recently entered into a partnership with an Indiana-based manufacturer, Smith Brothers, to reach a goal of 90 percent sales of domestic-made furniture by the end of the year. That compares to 60 percent in 2008 when Mahn and his wife, Brenda, bought the business.

“The reason it makes good business sense for us is the proximity to the manufacturers, both geographically and personally,” Mahn said.

Emphasizing the “made in America” strategy seems like common sense, but Mahn said carrying it out in the furniture retail business is challenging. Much of the furniture stock on the retail market is made overseas and sells at a cheaper price.

He said a furniture retail business like Golden-Fowler has to really work to stock its showroom with a majority American products.

The partnership with Smith Brothers translates into a new 2,000-square-foot retail space that displays the new Smith Brothers’ products.

“If my company is doing business in the Midwest, and the manufacturer is in the Midwest, we speak the same language and understand what the customers want,” Mahn said. We even have the same accent.”

Mahn said close proximity to American manufacturers also makes business sense because special orders take less time and the furniture is higher quality. About two-thirds of Golden-Fowler’s business is special order requests.

“A closer proximity to dealers means you don’t have ocean freight, and the time it takes to get something from China (on special order) is six months,” he said.

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