Why is buying American made products an important consideration when making your next purchase of Adirondack chairs or outdoor furnishings? In the past 10 years the market for Adirondack style furniture has been diluted with imported products coming from China and Indonesia. The products resemble the classic styling of Adirondack furniture, come in a variety of colors, are extremely cheap, and appear to be made of quality wood. So why should buying locally make a difference?
The importance of buying local is not so obvious. First, consider the actual quality of the furniture. Is that “cedar” chair really cedar. Often, the chairs are listed as being made of Asian cedar. What exactly is Asian cedar? Is is the same as American cedar and does the wood contain the same characteristics that make American white and red cedar such a suitable material for outdoor use in Adirondack chairs. Is it even cedar at all?
Second, what type of hardware is being used in the chair. You are not likely to find stainless or even zinc-plated screws and bolts in an imported chair. You will notice the difference almost immediately as the screw heads begin to rust and bleed colors into the wood. Your chairs will shortly appear as though they are bleeding from every screw hole.
Third, and most importantly, what happens years down the road if a slat breaks? Years ago we sold dozens of chairs to a school in Florida. They thought they would make a great respite area for the high school students during outdoor study periods. What they hadn’t considered is how the students would use the chairs. The students began sitting on the arms, which promptly split. The school called us immediately and asked if they could purchase new arms. We sent them directly, free of charge. All they had to do was unscrew the old arms, screw in the new arms and they were good to go…just like new. Then, of course, they had to set some ground rules for use of the chairs!
Therein lies the most important lesson in why buying American makes sense. What happens when you need to replace one slat? Will you need to purchase a whole new chair because the company you bought from can’t supply parts? If you are buying imported, the answer is yes. Imported chairs are packed on containers, shipped overseas and distributed locally. They are not meant to last for generations. They do not ship with extra parts. They are disposable.