Las Vegans looking to redo their vintage furniture, patio sets or boat seats may be facing long waits, thanks to increasing popularity of upholstery during the pandemic.
Upholstery services are seeing an uptick in customers since the pandemic’s onset, fueled by the housebound redecorating days of the early pandemic and pinches in the supply chain at large-scale furniture stores. But the same things driving the increased demand are hindering some upholsterers’ abilities to complete work quickly.
“People were home more, looking at their stuff and decided to get it taken care of, what they put off for a long time,” said Ephraim Aremendariz, owner of Upholstery Works, west of the Strip. He estimates his shop’s activity is up 40 percent from what it normally does annually.
The furniture repair and reupholstery industry is in decline, according to an August report by IBIS World. Upholsterers say they hope the new demand will redirect the trend.
“People stay with their furniture because the quality of old is better than new, or they can’t find their style,” said Mario Alfaro, a business partner at Redesign Upholstery in Las Vegas.
The firm saw a substantial increase in customer inquiries and projects since March 2020. Last year, the company completed 620 projects. He estimates 2021 will wrap up with close to 700 projects, mostly in residential design.
Other upholsterers have noticed the pattern, too. Summerlin Upholstery owner Glen Uslan said his business has had triple the number of clients this year compared with the numbers from previous years.
Labor and material shortages affecting numerous industries are hitting upholstery, too. Uslan said his lead time for projects, generally a two-week window, is up to 10 weeks now because materials such as fabric and foam are slow to arrive. Earlier this year, his lead time was long because he needed to hire two qualified upholsterers to meet demand.
“Delivery dates keep going back,” Uslan said. “For all I know, they’re sitting on one of those ships in Long Beach harbor and they just can’t get it unloaded. We’re limited by what we can get our hands on. It’s been a very interesting time getting the materials we need to do our job.
It’s a pinch that supply stores know well. At Santa Barbara Upholstery Supplies, orders were once taking up to 24 weeks to arrive, but are back to lower lead times, said Victor Cruz, who works at the family business on East Charleston Boulevard.
Cruz said residential demand has slowed down since summer’s end, but many internal hotel shops are busy fixing slot machine chairs, restaurant booths and other furniture as their demand returns.
“It was very frustrating because we went from having everything on hand to having nothing on hand,” Cruz said. “That’s the only downfall, not being able to get things to customer turned around in three or four days like we used to.”
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