Blog: An end to the ‘kids’ table?’ Say it isn’t so

Anne Flynn Wear//Assistant Managing Editor//February 3, 2020

As we look forward to the coming of warmer weather, many consumers consider purchasing new outdoor furniture. But, for those who want the benefit of enjoying outdoor furnishings without the hassle of where to store it during the long winter months, subscription furniture might be the answer.

Several new furniture subscription services have popped up over the past few years including CasaOne, Feather, Fernish, Inhabitr, Oliver Space and The Everset. Most of these companies offer services for consumers in larger metropolitan areas on the coasts, but Inhabitr offers its service in some smaller Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis and Madison, Wis.

Inhabitr co-founder Ankur Agrawal said that in Chicago, his company has many consumers, especially those in high rise apartments, who rent patio furniture for their balconies from May to Sept. The company delivers the furniture in early May and picks it up at the end of September.

One of the many ways these new companies are disrupting the retail space is by offering higher-end furniture from places such as West Elm and Pottery Barn, unlike the stereotype of a company that offered lease-to-own options of affordable furnishings.

Census bureau data shows that Millennials under age 35 make the largest proportion of moves. In 2017, they were 19% more likely to move than Americans aged 35 to 54, and 32% more likely to move than Americans 55 or older.

And the founders of these subscription companies say that’s why they started their businesses. Fernish co-founder and Millennial Michael Barlow moved five times in six years with three different roommates. He said the problem started when he didn’t want to invest a lot in furniture and lug it around the country. He teamed up with co-founder Lucas Dickey, who also moved 10 times in a 13-year period.

Another aspect of the subscription model to consider is that it’s environmentally friendly. Feather founder Jay Reno said that he’s hoping to create a circular approach to furniture by reducing its environmental impact so that when the furnishings reach the end of their lifespan, his company either donates it or recycles it to close the loop.

For its part, Oliver Space offers what it calls “hyper-personalized, concierge-like experience in the design process” since many Millennials request tips for how to design their space and advice on what items to choose without having to hire an interior designer.

And what about if the furniture needs to accommodate a larger group for a very short amount of time?

Many of the companies say that consumers are trading out their smaller tables for larger ones just for November and December to accommodate all visiting family members at one large table during the holidays.

In a final blow to tradition, subscription furniture might mean an end to the need for the infamous “kids’ table” for Thanksgiving dinner.

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