Can I Add Pieces to my Outdoor Patio Furniture Collection Later?
If you’re in the market for permanent, heirloom quality outdoor patio furniture, you’re going to be making a financial investment. It’s very common to want more than you can afford, or to need certain pieces before others. Maybe your front porch needs a few pieces now, while your backyard is under construction. Maybe guests are arriving and you need a dining table for the event, but you don’t know how you want to arrange the rest of the area yet. Whatever the case, it can be very nice to purchase outdoor patio furniture in phases.
Before taking a phased approach, you want to know that it is possible! You’d hate to buy that dining set now and go back for the sofa later only to find that it’s no longer available. A patio furniture store that is active in the industry and has a relationship with their manufacturers will be able to tell you if you’re taking a risk in buying portions of your set at a time.
Furniture collections come and they go. Every year, manufacturers sketch up many new designs. Engineering, marketing, finance, quality control, focus groups, their brick and mortar dealers, and even the factory earmarked to produce the product will all be involved in reviewing designs for feasibility. Some designs evolve and make it to a prototype and many do not. Prototypes are shown at industry trade shows and feedback from the industry is solicited. Degree of interest and purchase commitments from the dealers will determine what products go to production. Then there is a projection about how much to produce. Companies generally don’t continuously grow their catalog. When something new is introduced, a poor performing product is discontinued. When discontinued, there may be quite a bit of inventory on hand or there may not. This leftover inventory may be sold out through the usual dealership channels or it may go to liquidators, or sold off as a one time buys to big box stores. There are several options. Manufacturers may be able to provide an estimate for how much longer the collection will be available based on how much inventory is left, given historical sell-through patterns.
Your quality patio furniture stores will be attending the events where the prototypes are shown. It is here that they will learn what’s being discontinued and potentially what’s being introduced. Shortly after the events, feedback is tallied and the decisions surrounding new collections going to production are announced. Your patio furniture store has to seek out this information, care about it, and train its staff on it. Many stores will pay no attention, skip the events, bypass industry news outlets, and have no idea what’s coming and what’s going.
Many patio furniture stores and online sellers purchase and import shipping containers of furniture. Within these containers are pieces of one or two furniture collections, most likely all in the same color of frame and fabric. The buyer has received a discount for buying in bulk. Perhaps the buyer customized the order by specifying a cushion color you might not see anywhere else. When the container is sold out, it’s gone. They may be reordering more or they may not. Containers can take several months to arrive, so the timeframe may or may not meet your needs. The particular pieces you want may or may not be included in the container. Containers are packed a certain way to maximize space and all items in a collection are not likely to be included.
One other phenomenon to be aware of is the “one time buy.” Stores will buy a quantity of furniture, and when it’s gone it’s gone. If your piece breaks, there is no way to replace it because it’s gone. If you want a replacement cushion, it no longer exists. Big box stores operate on the one time buy philosophy. They may buy a huge quantity for their distribution center and many stores may pull from it. Again, when it’s gone it’s gone. As a way to differentiate from the competition, it is quite common for these one time buys to be unique in some way. If it’s a huge order, the manufacturer will have no problem putting a different color cushion on it, or changing the color of the frame. They may even alter something structurally about the collection. Maybe they will offer a design change, mix different arms with a different back, pair a different coffee table with the sofa, etc. This prevents the buyer from being about to compare prices, and adds a “private label” layer of anonymity to the piece. You may not be able to figure out what brand it is. It may well be an entry level brand priced higher than normal. It may be a brand that you know but it has a different brand name on it. Anything and everything goes.
Here’s the conclusion: If you want to buy your furniture in phases, buy from a knowledgeable specialty outdoor patio furniture retailer. Buy a collection that’s been around a long time and isn’t being discontinued. Buy a collection where you’ll be able to order new cushions years from now after yours wear out or you want a new color.
- Christopher Amos