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How’s Business: Recycled furniture

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This week we touch upon a not-so-publicized yet quite interesting industry. We find our location at the crossroads of Newton Avenue and Astoria Boulevard as they both meet on 21st Street. The area is known as Astoria Square, where we find The Furniture Market, which sells used furniture.

I met with one of the partner owners, Herman Carolini. His partner, Tila Gonzalez, was out getting even more interesting items to add to their already fascinating display. I asked Carolini, how’s business in the used furniture market? Here is what he passed on to me.

His clientele is divided mainly into two categories: dealers, who make up for 25 percent of the business, and the general public. A key component of the general public is the treasure-hunting young professionals, with an emphasis on those who have left Manhattan and moved to Queens.

Carolini was quick to add that it is the dealers who make the major high-priced purchases. Another component of the clientele is movie studios such as Silvercup, (one of its clients being the HBO show “The Sopranos”), the Kaufmann Studios and until recently the TV series “100 Centre Street.”

The store does not sell antiques, Carolini said, but does sell 20th-century furniture. In looking at the pieces displayed, I felt like a kid in a candy shop. Each appeared to have its own special draw with its own personality. I asked Carolini for the pluses and minuses of this business.

The negative aspects are the long hours involved and the occasional customer haggling, he said. In order to provide competitive merchandise it’s a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day assignment.

The positive side is that you’re always learning and being involved in a market, which has and will always have an excellent supply and demand. There is no limit to these two categories in this business.

And what about future growth? Carolini said that growth is relative. They have been in this market for five years and are entertaining the possibility of an additional location, perhaps in Manhattan, he said. Carolini took me on a personal tour of the premises and I can truly say that not one moment yielded to boredom.

So how’s business in the used furniture market? I would have to rate it as quite good. After all, it even excited someone like me, who is not known to be a huge used furniture fan.

Joe Palumbo is a private asset manager as well as the fund manager for The Palco Group, Inc., an investment company at www.palcogroup.com or 461-8317.

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