Furniture Today: Nip it in the bud!

 

Please, everyone sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite! We have all heard this as youngsters but we paid no attention. Maybe we should.

Here in Richmond, two of our elementary schools are having to close some classrooms to have them deep cleaned for … you guessed it, bedbugs. Parents are being told to put the child’s clothing in a pillow case and run it them in a clothes dryer at its hottest setting for one hour to kill the pests. Meanwhile, other schools are watching out for this new, but very old, problem.

Truthfully, I have not heard much about bedbugs over the past 50 years in the furniture industry until recently. If you read the hotel business publications, bedbugs are a HUGE problem, and there are a half dozen full-page ads for bedbug solutions or how to prevent them. There are occasional stories about entire floors of hotels being closed for cleaning and bedbug control.

I have read in travel publications to not leave your luggage open where bedbugs can climb in and catch a ride to a new home, yours. Be careful how you handle your clothes in hotels and just don’t throw them around, especially near the bed. This is not a problem at remote and backward third world countries; it is in major U.S. cities in a big way.

Unfortunately, bedbugs are quietly impacting the residential home furnishings business. The way I hear it, stores that help dispose of old beds when they deliver new ones, get their delivery trucks infested. Since most new beds are delivered wrapped, the bedbugs are getting into the upholstery on its way to be delivered. Customers are NOT happy with this free add-on and make demands on the stores. Recently, I read that the average cost of a resolving a bedbug problem is $1,700, which sounds low to me.

Upon hearing about this and also hearing about some of our larger furniture stores having many bedbug suits from consumers, maybe this is a problem our industry needs to address in a serious way before some crusading do-gooder starts suggesting laws and regulations we don’t want or need.

My wife and I own a 120-year-old wooden farmhouse on the Rappahannock River, just off the Chesapeake Bay. Over the past 20 years, we have had to call for help with a raccoon family in the attic, a large icky spider problem in one bedroom, tiny mice in a wall and a black snake that fell out of a closet near the pool table. But we have never found bedbugs!

W.W. “Jerry” Epperson, Jr. is a founder and managing director of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, Ltd., an investment banking and research firm. Jerry is the head of their research efforts and has in excess of thirty years of experience in the publication of hard/soft dollar research which focuses on demographics, consumer products, furnishings (residential and contract) and related issues. More specifically, Jerry’s research in the furnishings industry is recognized on a world-wide basis for its in-depth coverage of suppliers, manufacturers and retailers.

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