Why isn't furniture selling?

debodunJanuary 25, 2013

I've been trying to sell this 45" diameter vintage Cushman maple table (includes 2 leaves, glass cover and padding) and 4 Hitchcock chairs for the past 3 months. I figure it is very reasonably priced at $250 for the whole kaboodle, but I have had absolutely no interest. It's the same with other furniture items I have. Even auctioneers won't take furniture if it isn't a high-end antique. I got to the point of advertising some of the smaller items for free and still no one is interested. Years ago this dining set would have been snapped up immediately. What's going on?

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I think that right now Hitchcock and Cushman Colonial and similar colonial-revival furniture has a limited market.

Even genuine first period furniture is in a depressed market right now unless it is a very fine piece.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 9:56AM
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It really galls me that you see things like "American Pickers" where dealers buy rusty old junk that I wouldn't take if the owners paid me and yet I can't sell good quality housewares.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 11:28AM
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It's the economy. Very nice table and chairs, maybe wait a bit closer to Spring.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 4:07PM
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You can do a lot with photos. I peruse my local craigslist a lot and it amazes me how little effort people often make with their photos. I hope you've shown it with and without leaves. For the chairs, I like to see the side view to assess how much lower back support they would have. And maybe a close-up of the artwork?

Also, if you include dimensions (as you've done here), you give people a better chance to assess if it will work for them.

I also don't know how common a Cushman table is, but up here in Canada the equivalent - Vilas - is often overpriced on the basis that the seller thinks it is good stuff, but fails to factor in that the market is flooded with identical tables. Vilas was sold primarily in the 50s through to the 70s, and is now part of estate sales. That generation of furniture owners kept their stuff in pretty pristine condition, plus the stuff is tough; there's a lot of it in good shape still. And a regrettable amount of it was, to be blunt, butt-ugly. Fortunately, yours isn't :-)

You want your ad (I presume craigslist) to have all the right searchwords in it, and make sure you don't spell it "dinning" which has to be (sigh) the most common spelling mistake on craigslist, although "draws" and "mirrow" are close seconds.

Finally, I often see ads where people are keen to sell a set as a set, but you increase your chances if you are willing to sell separately. It's not a set originally anyway in this case. In particular, realize that a piece of glass the size of that table is more likely to be a liability than an asset (not something everyone wants!) and make it optional - and you may even be able to sell that separately if the buyer doesn't want it. Ironically, you might be able to sell the chairs for $50 each and the table for $50, but not the set for $250. You limit your potential market if you list it only as a set. Those would make lovely side chairs or bedroom chairs, so might sell singly.

Or, maybe it's the economy in your particular market. Can you advertise in the next biggest town over?

Karin L

    Bookmark   January 25, 2013 at 11:46PM
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Here's a photo of one of the chairs by itself.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 8:39AM
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The chairs are kind of worn finish wise. I think you might have trouble getting $50 each on Craigslist, because I have seen pristine ones for $65-75.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 2:34PM
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You also need a photo of the back of the chairs with the Hitchcock signature. Lots of reproductions out there.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Here's the back showing the Hitchcock logo

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 6:26AM
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Contact this company, they may be interested in your chhttp://www.hitchcockchair.com/Home.aspxairs.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 10:20AM
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If you sell the chairs separate from the table, you may get more interest.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:20AM
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I live in CT so that may be a factor but around here those chairs are a dime a dozen. You'd have trouble getting $50/each in that condition and age.

These were always mass produced chairs and will never be worth a lot of money. Condition is important especially the stencil. Yours were made 1955, or later, so not even one of the early Hitchcocks. I'd offer them for $150/set and see what happens. For sure, separate them from the table.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 9:15AM
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If those were my chairs, I would "polish" them up nicely, perhaps touch up the worn spots with some stain, maybe use a little Restore-a-Finish on the seats. Then I would take some good pictures, showcasing them at their best. Perhaps stage them around a different table. You can always hang a sheet as a backdrop if you have them in a storage area. I would never advertise them with pictures as they are. Just me.

Looking on the web, a lot of these chairs have been painted black, but I think that could get quite complicated with the painted flowers and letters.

I think these type of chairs are just unique enough to attract those with enough creativity to mix and match them with a different table.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 2:11PM
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I agree completely with tuesday's above post.

Possibly (?), they could be paired with a new industrial-style table that are showing up in every catalogue hitting my mail. I'd feel better about that choice if they were all black but it could still work with your chairs for somebody creative with accessories. With that pairing it would be obvious the choice was a deliberate style decision. RH has a zinc table similar to what I'm seeing in my mind.

Unfortunately, they aren't unique enough to justify your doing much more than a good cleaning, touch-up pen, and polishing.

Best of luck with both the chairs and the table.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 4:57PM
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A couple of antique dealers, one in Maine, one in Maryland, have told me that due to craigslist and E-Bay the market is flooded and down most everywhere. I have a Plantation Desk that I'd hoped to get a good price for, and have been advised it is worth no more than $700. One must either take a loss or hold on to pieces longer. Good luck.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:33AM
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Doreen O'Brien

Do still have the table available? Are you willing to sell only the table to me?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2015 at 6:37AM
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Imhappy&Iknowit IOWA zone 6b

The cr*p on craigslist and the resale shops are all "old" furniture painted every color of the rainbow. I'm not into painting wood. I would refinish it. But the point I'm trying to get around to is buyers nowadays buy junk. It only has to be 30 years old and painted. Who can integrate a Fuschia Pink piece of furniture into their home?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2015 at 4:04PM
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