Running on Empty (the day the furniture warehouse ran out of stock)

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Hiring from a furniture warehouse is the first port of call for most property stylists looking to fully or partially stage a client’s property.

Spring market is always a busy time for stylists and furniture warehouses. However, Spring 2014 in Brisbane has seen unprecedented demand for hire furniture. The result? All hire companies in Brisbane are running at very low stock levels.

So how bad are stock levels? Beds are a big problem. It doesn’t matter how pretty the bedlinen- no bed means no bedroom. Rugs, sofas, dining tables, consoles, lamps, cushions and pillow inserts are all at record low levels. The warehouse I use recommends that installs are pushed back to the beginning of December. It’s very difficult to pull a whole house together but we continue to try. It’s amazing what you can do when you have very little to select from.

Let’s look at the causes of the low stock:

1. Number of houses on the market. You only have to feel the weight of the real estate section or to scroll through internet listings to realise there are a lot of houses for sale in Brisbane

2. Oversupply of houses and less buyer demand equals longer time on the market. Furniture hire contracts are being extended so the furniture is slower coming back to the warehouse.

3. Rise in popularity of home staging. More agents and homeowners are requesting staging and more stagers are starting a home staging/property styling business.

Help! I  need to list my house quickly – what can I do?

If your property is occupied one option is to request a consultation only. It’s amazing what can be achieved by storing unwanted pieces then using what’s left but in different ways.  If you need a few new pieces (lamps,bedlinen, art) these can be bought not hired.

If your property is empty try and work with your home stager on a solution. On hearing of the low stock levels last week one of my clients offered to bring beds from another property along with selected art and rugs. This all eases the pressure and will get the house listed more quickly

Help! I’m a property stylist but I’m turning business away. What can I do?

Focus on other ways to make money. I’m focussing on ‘consultation only’ business and also accepted a piece of re-design business that I’d usually turn down. For those stylists who like Christmas Decorating (I don’t!) or event styling or visual merchandising or home organisation you could offer these services too.  In an ideal world we’d all like a plentiful supply of stock in the warehouses but ‘it is what it is’ so stop complaining (yes, even I’ve stopped) and go and find another revenue stream.

Take stock. Take this time to think about your business. What business do you want to attract? What plan do you have in place if this lack of stock happens again? Form alliances, find new suppliers, re-design your website.

A final thought…See those houses in the glossy real estate magazines? See the photos stylists are sharing on social media? These are the result of sleepless nights, worry, negotiations, tears and resourcefulness pushed to the limit (in other words the bit that we try not to expose to the world). Next time you think “well, I wouldn’t have chosen that table” ponder for a minute the stylist didn’t want to choose it either! But we still love what we do, love doing our best for our clients and love getting the call saying “We’ve sold our house” I know I say this time and again but selling houses is what it’s all about.

I’m Imogen Brown a home stager based in the Western suburbs of Brisbane. If you want to stage your house I’d love to help. Call 0432994056 or contact me through my website

6 thoughts on “Running on Empty (the day the furniture warehouse ran out of stock)

  1. CT says:

    Hi Imogen
    I am a property stager and have a small property staging business. I work alone and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all your blog posts as I can relate to each and every one! It feels great that I am not the only one who struggles with the many not-so-glamorous aspects of this industry! I have my own inventory of furniture and accessories but am considering of using furniture suppliers in Brisbane as managing my own ever growing inventory is becoming a stressful task. I have tried this once before but found the hire expensive and it was difficult working around the variety of stock available etc. What is your advice or pros/cons with each of these options?

    1. excitemedia says:

      Hi there and thanks for the kind feedback on my blogs. It can be lonely sometimes running your own staging business so it’s nice to know that you are in the same boat. There’s a long and a short answer to your question! It’s probably best if you give me a call and we can talk it through
      0432994056 : )

  2. It’s so nice to know it wasn’t just me chasing stock last week to no avail- so at the mercy of hiring company’s. I had know idea it got like this! You always write such timely posts Imogen, thankyou!

    1. ib69 says:

      Hi Rachael, It’s never been quite this bad. We’ll all be laughing about it by January (I hope!)

  3. Running out of stock is a stagers nightmare. I have my own inventory in Coffs Harbour – and I always have to think two houses ahead – just in case. This situation also proves how much home staging has grown as an industry in Australia.

    1. ib69 says:

      I don’t have my own inventory but it makes me realise how reliant I am on hiring from another business. Also, for those that do have inventory I know there is a lot of buying going on to meet the demand. This obviously has a knock on effect to profit. But you’re right shows what a growth industry we’re in!

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