Many people moving to the Golden Isles have learned to be patient when it comes to furnishing their new homes.
The strong real estate market in the Golden Isles, partially driven by the pandemic, has had a ripple effect on businesses selling quality furniture and appliances.
People moving here typically don’t bring all of their furniture and appliances, opting instead for a new look for their new home. The demand for new furniture and appliances is also fueled by people spending more time at home and wanting a new look or more comfort.
People moving to the Golden Isles especially those from out of state, are looking for furniture that reflects the coastal lifestyle, said Ward Sweat, co-owner of Sweat’s Furniture.
While most people moving to the area don’t replace everything, they are looking for furnishings that are casual, yet sophisticated. Couches and chairs, for example, often have slip covers.
People are also looking for lighter colors that are representative of a coastal lifestyle.
Another driver for the strong business is the number of people who are spending more time at home.
“Right now, business is booming,” Sweat said. “My personal forecast is when people get their stimulus checks, business will spike up again.”
One of the big sellers is sleeper sofas with memory foam mattresses that provide a surprisingly comfortable night’s sleep.
“Today’s sofa sleepers are nothing like yesterday’s,” Sweat said. “Sofa sleepers are a big thing because these people have more guests coming to visit.”
Another big seller is reclining furniture, with the emphasis on comfort. Many of the new recliners also have all the ports and connections for computers, tablets, phones and other electronic devices.
Woven and wicker rattan furniture is a big seller. And outdoor furniture is covered with endurance fabrics that protect it from the sunlight and moisture.
In some instances, people won’t have the choices they’d like if they don’t start shopping for furniture several months in advance.
“Typically, when they move here they tend to leave behind lots of things and start over fresh. The challenge is what’s available,” said Dwight Sweat, co-owner of Sweat’s Furniture.
Matt Dart, owner of Pierce & Parker Interiors, said a shortage of raw materials and the cost of lumber doubling in the past year has made it challenging to keep a large inventory for customers.
“We’re seeing price increases from all our vendors,” Dart said.
Special orders that took about four weeks to complete now and take as long as 18 weeks.
“We’re selling more off the floor,” he said. “You just can’t come in and pick out the fabric. It makes it difficult to know what to buy.”
Office furniture, in particular, is difficult to get because the demand is so high.
“Home offices, everything is selling,” he said.
Dart said he makes large orders from suppliers to meet the demand, which makes it difficult to know what to buy because it takes so long for delivery.
“I think we’ve been fortunate,” Dart said. “As long as the real estate market is hot, we’ll stay hot.”
It’s not just furniture causing customers long wait times. Home appliances, including washers, dryers, dishwashers, stoves, refrigerators and microwaves are also hot sellers.
Glenn Thompson, owner of Coastal Appliances, said his business has a backlog of orders to meet the demand. Stainless steel stoves and refrigerators remain the most popular sellers. In fact, Thompson said most contractors don’t want white kitchen appliances.
“The stainless steel look is the one most people want,” he said.
He said most people moving to the Golden Isles leave their old appliances behind because they want to start fresh in a new house.
“Inventory is hard to get,” he said. “We’ve been as busy as we’ve ever been right now.”