Hubbingtons carves niche in market
By Kelly Sennott
Seacoast Sunday, August 14, 2011
[The following article is courtesy of Seacoast Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
Karen Day, sales associate at Hubbingtons Classic Furniture Designs in Hampton, shows off some of the American-made furniture the store sells. Many of the pieces come from Amish Country in Illinois. [Deb Cram courtesy photo]
HAMPTON -- Customers who venture in Hubbingtons Classic Furniture Designs are the ones who have decided it's time to buy furniture that will be around for a while, says its owner.
Unfortunately, many people get it wrong the first time, said Peter Rhoades.
While he owns one of the few high-end furniture businesses in the area, there is a reason as to why Hubbingtons is still around after 17 years and still doing well. Rhoades opened a second location in Hampton last January to join its first location in Barrington.
Hubbingtons has a different take on selling furniture, Rhoades said, adding the business doesn't sell the prices, it sells the furniture. Rhoades said the business also takes a more personal approach in dealing with customers, small businesses and builders.
"It's fun on both sides," he said. "It's not about the money as it is about the relationships involved. We develop more personal relationships with the builders, and we tend to have a longer perspective on things. It's not the philosophy of a typical furniture store."
While many furniture stores are opting to import goods from abroad due to their lower prices, Hubbingtons ensures all of its goods are made in America. Furniture at Hubbingtons is pricier than many discount furniture stores, but the reason is for the work put into every piece: each is ordered and made with the specific customer in mind.
It typically takes a couple of months for a piece of furniture to be delivered once ordered because the piece is typically hand-crafted by small builders. Many of the craftsmen are actually Amish families who put special care in each piece, Rhoades said.
"One of our builders sends out postcards to let you know that he's working on your piece," he said. Most of his customers like that each and every piece of furniture is made by a person, not by a machine.
As soon as the furniture is complete, it is sent directly to the customer. It's not sitting in a warehouse, Rhoades said. Bureaus, tables, chairs and sofas are not bubble-wrapped and sent in boxes. Instead, they are individually wrapped in blankets and the shipment crew helps customers take their new furniture into their homes.
Customers choose the style, type of wood, the color or fabric design.
They carry more case goods than sofas and upholstery, as they work more with small builders. Almost 60 to 70 percent of their furniture is made by small builders.
Rhoades said he and his wife opened the store in 1994 with the idea of selling better quality furniture in a relaxed setting. The Barrington location looks more like a house than a store, featuring a long, wooden porch with rocking chair furniture and a cozy feel inside. It's far different from a larger furniture chain. The prices are higher, but Rhoades said his customers, after seeing the final product, don't mind.
"It's not just the quality as much as somebody coming in and saying that they love the looks of the wood," he said. "You can see the grains in the wood and you can see the detail put into each piece."
Hubbingtons' concept is to draw from a 75-mile radius, Rhoades said, adding that when he opened the Hampton location, he drew in many more Seacoast customers.
The Hampton store is more of an abbreviated version of the Barrington store, however, Rhoades said the Hampton site does provide a few lines the Barrington one does not.
Who: Peter Rhoades, president
Locations: 75 Lafayette Road, Hampton and
1048 Calef Highway, Barrington, NH
Phone: 926-4002, Hampton; 664-2212, Barrington