I hate to be the bearer of bad news but being in the interior design business and selling of goods, whether it be furniture, fabrics or fixtures, the tariffs are having a profound impact on the design and construction industry.
I can’t tell you the number of emails I’m getting from vendors about their upcoming price increases. Some had already increased by 10% earlier this year and now some are expecting an additional 25% increase starting January 1. Crazy, right? They say it’s only on goods coming from China, not domestic goods. Well, that’s great but have you noticed how many things you buy say “Made in China”? A LOT! And will other manufacturers increase prices on other products whether from China or not? I don’t know.
I hope not, because the cost to remodel and furnish your home was already expensive, but now it just got a lot pricier. That said, I always try to look on the bright side of things… sure I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how we got here, but maybe it’s a good thing? What? Now I realize that the tariffs aren’t just affecting goods from China, look at the soybean farmers in North Dakota who can’t sell their crops. Horrible.
I understand why we rely so heavily on China for cheap goods, there I said it, cheap, but it doesn’t have to be that way, does it? And perhaps this is possibly a way for us to bring some of these industries and jobs back home. Sure, that might not be true for every industry, but as it relates to design, I think it’s a good thing. I want to work with more local companies and vendors of goods. I myself am a small business and who am I if I don’t support other small businesses?
A great example is plumbing. I’ve worked with contractors who want to order everything from Build.com because it’s cheaper than from their local supplier. But that’s because Build.com doesn’t have a showroom to support. And how many of my clients are willing to purchase from a picture on a website? Not very many I can assure you of that, and the last thing I want to hear is “I don’t like how it looks” I thought it would be shinier, blacker, whatever. My clients want to touch and feel things, whenever possible. They want to know exactly what to expect when they see that faucet installed. One company’s oil rubbed bronze is very different from another brand. And for that, I believe in rewarding my local reps. Could be plumbing, carpet, furniture, lighting, etc.. Because who has my back when something goes wrong or was ordered incorrectly? My rep. Who will see that the widget that goes with the faucet will get ordered and delivered to the job site? My rep. They understand the importance of keeping a project on schedule and will do everything, they can win my business again and make both the client and contractor happy. So, while pricing is going up and more and more people are shopping online, I’m all for supporting my local plumbing showroom, furniture store, lighting supplier, etc. etc. Small businesses make the world go ‘round and maybe just a little better, even if it costs us a little more money.
Price isn’t everything, right?