A conversation with David Reid of James Reid Furniture

The long and storied history of James Reid Furniture, older than Canada and now in its fourth generation is no stranger to print media. Though obviously an unusual and rare story of survival and thriving during changing times, successfully riding the vicissitudes of outrageous fortune, through wars and economic depressions, our focus will be David Reid’s take on the current state of the furniture market. Readers wishing to have a better understanding of that fascinating history should consult jamesreidfuneralhome.com where one can learn about twelve children combining their labours to make and upholster caskets and furniture.

David refers to his business as the “quiet furniture company” which quietly gets on with the job of selling quality furniture that really is worth the asking price and genuinely offers real value. You will not find glaring gaudy posters advertising sixty or seventy or even eighty percent off at James Reid, but you may well find these liquidation sales even at new stores that have only recently opened. David challenges us to question whether the marketing strategies employed by such companies can be genuine. “If it’s good, how can it be cheap” he asks. The familiar adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” comes to mind. We all know this to be true and yet frequently we enthusiastically buy into it and congratulate ourselves on making a purchase at what we want to believe is a very advantageous price. In reality we are actually deluding ourselves and even the reduced price we finally pay in a sale is actually a high price in respect of the quality and longevity of the item in question.

David explains that the cost of a piece of a furniture consists of the production cost and the material required to make the item. As labour costs are similar, economies offered by cheaper furniture can only be achieved by using materials of poorer quality. For furniture made offshore, production costs can be significantly less but so can the quality. Products from the far east can be made of compressed paper! “That’s not furniture, that’s the illusion of furniture!”

Whilst buying low priced furniture may seem appealing, you are actually throwing away your money. For a few dollars more you can buy twice the quality of furniture, made by skilled craftsmen. One must understand, “Upholsterers are much more than staple-gun operators.” With furniture you cannot really see what is underneath and cannot assess the construction. At James Reid we only sell properly constructed furniture and properly constructed furniture lasts and lasts.” David will not participate in the prevalent race to the bottom culture.


Industry marketers have persuaded people to buy furniture as they buy fashions, here today and gone tomorrow: that is because their model is volume sales at low price points for products which have a limited life span, partly because they are manufactured down to a price, and partly because they will soon be out of fashion. James Reid is the place to shop for classic design that will never go out of style and in the long run it actually costs less to buy quality because it lasts. Buying cheaply constructed furniture is just throwing good money after bad.

David is intensely proud of his staff, many of whom have worked with the company for years and years and he says, “They are real people, who really know their stuff, they know the products and the suppliers. We have literally hundreds of colour swatches and fabric samples from which to choose. Our customers can more or less design their furniture following their own ideas or they can consult our designer Brad McCaughtery, who will actually visit the customers home. “Why not get what you actually want?” says David. “How can you get a real sense of what a piece of furniture will look like in your home on a computer screen. How can you tell whether it’s well made or even comfortable?” he asks. Clearly the best way to buy quality furniture is in person in good quality furniture store where you can actually test it out for as long as you need.

James Reid offers an almost “white glove” delivery service. The delivery team will place your new furniture anywhere you choose and will remove your unwanted item and all the packaging materials, which is especially useful if you live in a condo.

For those of our readers thinking of entering the furniture market David offers some advice. “Beware mediocre furniture that looks good, but may not be, beware of free shipping, (check the return policy), beware of after market add on sales, beware of the phrases “not exactly as illustrated” and “some assembly required,” remember you get what you pay for and if a deal appears too good to be true, it most probably is!”


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