December 11, 2023

At age 66 and with five grandchildren, my wife and I decided we needed a beach house for building sandcastles, chasing seagulls along the surf, and finding an exit path for an eventual retirement down the road.

So, we found a spot on the South Carolina coast and fell in love with a bright and cheerful home that was fully furnished. Wow. We could avoid the hassles of ordering furniture, waiting for delivery, hiring the decorator and trying to find all the accessories to match the decor. It was already done and perfectly met our taste and wants.

The case goods are Tommy Bahama. The upholstery is Grandin Road. The dining table is Four Hands. Much of the art is West Elm. The porch is furnished with Summer Classics. All the names were familiar to me and gave my wife and me comfort that the home was indeed in top shape.

As we moved in and got settled, we realized that some adjustments were needed to make the house a home and to truly become a Stump landing spot. This is where the learning came from.

With grandchildren we knew messes would occur, so we checked with Grandin Road and quickly learned we could purchase slip covers for the sofas. A few keystrokes later we had ordered several pairs of slipcovers.

Also, the children’s playroom needed appropriate furniture, so we ordered Sixpenny small chairs online, which were delivered in two weeks. With two infants we needed two cribs, and a quick scan of the web led us to Serena and Lily, which coincidentally was having a sale. They are on order and should arrive within a month.

We scanned the Wayfair website for ideas and several items popped up, and we quickly made the purchase.

Smaller decor items and household/kitchen goods were also easily purchased online. So, within a few days, our front door was stacked with boxes full of hairdryers, towels, linens, paper towels, etc. Fortunately, there is a recycling center right down the road!

What I learned, in summary:

  • New and used home sales create immediate demand for furnishings. We know that intuitively, but I had forgotten the magnitude of the impact. With interest rates higher, home sales are down and hence our sluggish furniture economy right now.
  • Online purchasing will continue to grow. It is easy and fast. Companies that can manage the in-stock inventory positions will be winners.
  • Technology will be a key differentiator between the winners and losers. As we made our purchase decisions, we abandoned difficult websites and migrated to sites that were easy to navigate and accessible.

Come see us at the beach. The house is nicely adorned and open for company.

Tim Stump is founder and president of mergers and acquisition advisory firm Stump & Co.


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