January 10, 2021

Office furniture sales increase as COVID pandemic keeps people at home

Office furniture sales increase as COVID pandemic keeps people at home


Emily Morgan
 
| The Daily Record

A new home office for Susan Bromley ranked low among her home renovation projects.

Then the pandemic hit and she was suddenly forced to work from home. The kitchen counter setup wasn’t going to cut it.

“We had the space and I’d been hem-hawing about it. Then March came,” said Bromley, who works for her family’s drilling business, HAD Drilling Contractors in Rittman. 

Bromley is still working from home while allowing others to return and work at safe distances in the office. She purchased two desks and a bookcase from Runions’ Furniture in Orrville. She also wanted to buy some file cabinets, but they were on extended backorder, like many products during the pandemic.

“My husband is out in the field more, but we wanted to outfit the whole area so it was easy for both of us to work anytime,” she said.

Runions’ saw an immediate interest in its home office furniture when stay-at-home orders forced millions of people to adjust to new working environments in make-shift home offices last spring. Owner Jack Runion said inventory was “gobbled up” and in-demand items soon were in short supply.

Nearly a year later, home office furniture remains a popular category. It’s also a category Runion believes many were likely considering but hadn’t pulled the trigger on yet as people moved from desktop computers with towers to laptops that didn’t require such a wide tabletop.

“Anyone who has a home office, it’s likely in some state of being outdated. I imagine updating the home office was on the agenda of a lot of people before the pandemic,” Runion said.

New furniture isn’t the only improvement being made to the home office. The Wooster Brush Company has added extra shifts to keep up with demand for brushes and other applicators as many people are perking up rooms in their homes (where they’re spending a lot more time) with a new coat of paint.

“Now that they have the furnishings, they’re probably painting to make it a more permanent venue,” said Scott Rutledge, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Wooster Brush.

Rutledge figures government stimulus checks and money that would have been spent on travel is being diverted to home improvement projects by many. He also sees more people choosing DIY projects rather than hiring professionals to avoid bringing people inside their homes during the pandemic.

“We have a whole new generation of people doing it themselves. They didn’t want outside folks in their homes but wanted to tackle it themselves. They bought their own paint and their own brushes,” he said.

Bromley made the conscious decision to support local and purchase her items from the family-owned Runions’. Jack Runion and his wife Linda personally delivered the Bromley’s furniture and helped unload it in the driveway and bring it into the home to keep everyone safe.

“They are trying so hard to accommodate customers. They were doing what they could to keep us happy,” she said.

Junior Yoder, the owner of The Cabin Store in Mount Hope, also has seen his sales go up since the pandemic, attributing the increase to people redirecting their finances from leisure activities like attending sporting events to investing in their homes. He also appreciated people who were buying their furniture from local retailers.

“It really helped the community a lot,” Yoder said.

Reach Emily at 330-287-1632 or emorgan@the-daily-record.com

On Twitter: @mogie242



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