According to Marcia Herman, owner of Fun Furniture, many Angelenos are willing to pay top dollar for custom-designed furniture, especially if it's for their children. After 15 years in business, the success of her Beverly Boulevard children's furniture store suggests that she has indeed tapped a lucrative vein. Fun Furniture has designed beds, desks, cribs you name it for many of L.A.'s wealthy elite, as well as for the average customer looking for something nice. Staff Reporter Conor Dougherty spoke with Herman about her store's many choices and some of its more interesting designs.
"I started Fun Furniture because 15 years ago there was nothing but white furniture. The first line was brightly colored, and made out of plastic laminate, with a lot of windows and doors. Customers liked it because the laminate is colorful, durable and washable. In the last 10 years, however, the look has totally changed and preferences have gone completely to wood. Today, customers like the furniture to look older and used.
"The niche that Fun Furniture has is that we do a lot of custom work. You can have any design and size, any color, any finish we're a full-service store. If you want a bed that looks like an airplane, that's fine. We had a customer that asked us to create a bunk bed that looked like an auto shop, one asked for a bed that looked a like a baseball stadium. One thing we have that is particularly special is a fire engine bunk bed designed and created in a signed limited edition by the international artist Red Grooms. That goes for $17,000, and we've sold one. The bunk beds start around $650; the custom ones start at $4,000.
"Sometimes the challenge is that we offer too much. Since we do everything, we can't show everything that we can do. And when we go to clients' houses, they sometimes ask us if we can do other rooms, but we can't, we have to stay focused.
"About 60 percent of our business is repeat customers. If a customer buys a crib, a few years later they get the twin bed.
"We also rent to production companies for commercials, TV and movies. I think our biggest, most prominent movie was 'Three Men and a Baby.' The studio work is a very small part of our business, though, not even 5 percent. We're a retail store.
"Business was great last year, but even in bad times people buy furniture. It's not something that's put off. People are always having babies, and those babies are always growing up."
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