Online Fabric Showroom

I was an upholstery apprentice back in the mid to late 1970s. Customers would come into the upholstery shop, pick out fabrics from a huge selection of sample books and if a price was agreed on, then you would get the job. You wouldn’t get every job. There was still competition, but for the most part, that’s how it worked.

In the 1980s and 90s, things began to change. You still sold fabric from samples in the showroom, but increasingly, customers would buy their own fabric from discount fabric stores and then want you to do just the labor portion of the job. Some shops charge an added fee to each yard the customer supplies. The customary amount seemed to be ten dollars per yard. Those who didn’t, which I was one of, found it difficult to adjust the labor enough top make up the difference, losing out on a fabric sale.

Now, many people want to supply their own fabric purchased from a discount fabric store; but a new trend is developing: online fabric sales. This will actually turn out to be a good trend for Cape Cod Upholstery Shop. All the major wholesale fabric suppliers are developing awesome websites with their fabrics available for viewing. Most of my customers now initiate contact through my website. They email photos of their work and I respond with prices. This results in fewer people actually coming into the upholstery shop to look at fabric. On my Cape Cod Upholstery Shop website, I now have an Online Fabric Showroom. Each fabric company has a short description and a link to view their selections. The combined links have thousands of fabric to view. Now my customers can send photos, receive prices and shop for fabric all from my website. Fabric-only purchases are always welcome.

There’s still some 1970s left in the upholstery shop though. It’s still a hands-on business. I still have to eventually see the furniture in most cases to give a firm price. Customers still need to see and feel actual samples of the fabric they see online. Beware: Never trust your monitor’s calibration when viewing fabric online! That is the reason I recommend ordering memo samples or cuttings for approval. Color and texture are of great importance.

Now I don’t have to keep up with hundreds of sample books and as a result, fabrics can be discounted 20% or more off the distributors suggested retail price; Waverly fabrics are discounted at 40%. This puts me in a better position to compete with the bigger brick-and-mortar fabric stores. Not bad for a one- person upholstery shop

In the last ten years, you’ve heard things about the upholstery business like “a dying trade”. But I’m here to tell you that there’s a new, younger web savvy customer base. Joe Gramm, Cape Cod Upholstery Shop, and the entire fabric industry are alive and well, operating as 21st century businesses.

A Cape Cod Upholsterer and Accountant

Sometime around 1988 my wife Marge and I were looking for a CPA to do our yearly tax returns for the upholstery shop. Way back then, the only way to do a search was to pull out the Yellow Pages and scroll down the Certified Public Accountant listing with your finger. For some reason, one ad from a CPA named Colleen Degnan-Daley seemed to spark our interest. The only drawback was that Colleen was in Plymouth, MA and we were in Yarmouth Port, MA. That meant a forty five minute drive for us to make contact. So Marge and I gathered all our files and went to meet Colleen. We liked her right away. She had a home business like we had and she was very easy to talk to. We really felt Colleen wanted to give us every legal advantage on our upholstery business and individual tax returns. It was official…Colleen Degnan-Daley became our CPA.

So several years go by doing business with Colleen between Plymouth and Yarmouth Port. In 1990, Marge and I moved to South Dennis, MA, where we could operate the home business. We received our yearly tax organizer in the mail — Colleen sends this out every year for our income and expense totals. Included in the tax organizer were directions to Colleen’s new office in Harwich. That’s the next town over from us on Cape Cod! We really felt that a good friend and business confidant had moved to our neighborhood.

Several more years go by. This year our tax organizer came with directions to Colleen’s new office in South Dennis, MA – of all places! Literally and physically a two minute drive or five minute bike ride. The original ad we saw for Colleen some twenty years ago must have had some magic to it for us to eventually end up in the same town.

Some Notes of Interest
• Obviously I think Colleen Degan-Daley is the best certified public accountant you can get for your business or personal needs. She does full service business accounting as well as tax returns. If you’re looking for a CPA, give Colleen a call at her new South Dennis office at 508-432-3868.
• When Colleen and I met, email was not commonly used, texting had not been invented and it took several floppy discs for me to print out an invoice.
• Some people consider Plymouth as Cape Cod. Others consider Cape Cod as being east of the Sagamore and Bourne bridges. The old maps from the 1600’s and the days of the Pilgrims certainly showed Plymouth as part of Cape Cod. But I think the modern standard for Cape Cod is anything east of the bridges.

Domain Registration Cape Cod Upholstery

Joe Gramm has registered the domain name Cape Cod Upholstery. There are many businesses on Cape Cod with Cape Cod in their name. So I was quite surprised to find that a name as basic as Cape Cod Upholstery was still available. So I couldn’t resist registering the domain. I think the domain was still available because a lot of upholstery businesses are named after the proprietor. For example, Joe Gramm Custom Upholstery.

I think it’s fair to say that after thirty-eight years in the business, I’ve thought a few times about retiring from upholstery. Most of the worth in my business is some equipment and a goodwill factor with a large established client base. If someone were to take over my business, I thought they may want to operate under a name like Cape Cod Upholstery.

So slowly over time, I’ll be changing the name over to Cape Cod Upholstery. You, who are reading this on Upholstery Blog, are the first to hear the official story of how Cape Cod Upholstery came to be.

The Ultimate Upholsterer

The Ultimate Frisbee upholsterer that is! Sometimes I combine Ultimate with an upholstery estimate or delivery especially if they’re near Falmouth or Wellfleet, both of which have great Ultimate. Falmouth and Wellfleet are about forty minutes away from Dennis, so it works out well when I can complete the Ultimate estimate.

In comes a call for an estimate in North Falmouth. So I set up the Ultimate estimate before our night game under the lights in Falmouth. I arrive at my customer Scott’s house. I do the estimate and everything goes well. As I make my way out, Scott accompanies me to my van and we chat a while. The topic comes up that I’m on my way to play Ultimate. He suddenly scoots back into the house and returns seconds later with a frisbee. Not just any frisbee, a Lady Godiva frisbee. Lady Godiva is one of Boston’s premier women’s Ultimate Frisbee teams, winning more championships than any other womens team in Ultimate history. It turns out that Scott’s wife Liz played for Lady Godiva in the late eighties. Liz played for another dominating championship team, Lady Condors, while living on the West Coast.

When I returned to pick up their furniture several weeks later, I got to meet Liz. It was fun talking for a few minutes about Ultimate and some of the local people we mutually knew. I think it’s safe to say that this was the ultimate Ultimate estimate of my upholstery career, as of yet.

Notes of interest
The frisbee is made by WHAM-O and is not generally used in Ultimate, although the term frisbee is often used in association with Ultimate. The disc of choice is the 175 gram “Ultra-Star” made by Discraft, usually custom designed with team logos and art.

Woods Hole Ultimate Frisbee (WHUF) offers year round pickup and tournaments in the Falmouth and Mashpee area. Check my “Links” section for more info.
Wellfleet pickup runs early June to Labor Day

Upholsterer’s Review Canon Powershot SX20 IS – Updated

Joe Gramm Custom Upholstery, upholsteryblog, Canon Powershot SX20 IS

Joe Gramm Custom Upholstery, upholsteryblog, Canon Powershot SX20 IS

I’ve just purchased Canon’s new Powershot SX20 IS. The photo above is the first furniture photographed with the SX20 for my upholstery website. With the wide angle, I was able to capture two matching chairs set quite a ways apart. The camera is kind of a hybrid, in between the pocket point and shoots and a DSLR. For me, there were two main features that caught my attention: HD 1280×720 video and a 28-560mm lens, which means wide angle to 20x optical zoom. I have an older iMac G5 and unfortunately, the HD video will not play from the memory card or from the Desktop. HD video only works with Intel Macs. But I can import the HD video into iMovie and then export it and it will then play on the iMac G5. You can even zoom while using the video and it records audio in stereo. Video and audio quality is very good. The 20x zoom is amazing. The camera calls for a tripod quite often while zooming. If you know your way around shutter speed, aperture and ISO, you can use the cameras manual setting to compensate for a tripod.

Overall I like the camera. The more photos I take, the better I like it. I upgraded from a three year old Canon Powershot SD700 IS. That camera could easily fit in your pocket. The SX20 is quite a bit bigger than the SD700, but smaller than a DSLR. So I’m still trying to get use to the bigger size. I suggest getting either an 8GB or 16GB SDHC memory card. HD video eats up space. So get enough. I also suggest getting four AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. Canon sells the batteries and charger in a CBK4-300 kit. I bought the camera and accessories at a local camera store called Orleans Camera and Video. I can go back and ask a thousand questions if I need to. Canon has packed a ton of features into this $399. camera. To see all the specs, visit the Canon website. Feel free to leave a comment and PLEASE remember, this and all my blogs are copyright protected!

Update
I’m finding that in low light, the SX20 can give you photos that are both noisy and soft. This happens most often when using the auto modes where the ISO is set by the camera at 400 ISO and above. And this happens often. It takes very low light for the flash to fire in most cases and that’s where the ISO seems to be in the 400-800 range. Those pictures lack detail and are noisy. Using the the AV, TV, or manual modes, gives you the ability to keep the ISO below 400 and you can get some nice photos. So be aware of the auto mode and low light situation if you plan on purchasing the SX20. A more professional review about the Canon SX20 IS from photographyblog.com has confirmed my findings.

My Thoughts of Senator Edward Kennedy

An imperfect man who happened to be one of the great humanitarians on our planet: that’s who Ted Kennedy was to me. Most of what Senator Kennedy has done for us, due to his legislation and humanitarianism, runs seamlessly in our everyday lives. But this isn’t a blog about those achievements or of his failings. I’m from Massachusetts and live on Cape Cod. The Kennedy mystique is rich and deep here. My upholstery business has taken me into Hyannis Port many times. I was not fortunate enough to do any upholstery work for the Kennedy’s. But when driving into Hyannis Port from Ocean Street, the site of the Kennedy compound and his sailboat, Mya, on it’s mooring, is always special to see. With the Senator gone, Mya has lost her Captain, Hyannis Port has lost an anchor in their community, and we the people, have lost a great and distinctive voice for the have-nots. Senator Kennedy, I salute your courage to change Yourself, the State of Massachusetts, the Nation and the World. I will miss you.

Toad Mystery at Upholstery Shop Solved

Each year, by the middle of July, I have a ritual at my Cape Cod upholstery shop to look for baby toads in the yard. They’ll be so many of them, that I won’t be able to mow the lawn for a few weeks or so. I love the toads, because after they’re born, all the ants disappear. And that’s not a mystery as to where the ants have gone. But this year, my four year old daughter and I were only able to find one baby toad. One! There are usually hundreds. This was quite a mystery, because in the Spring I saw the adult toads, which usually amounts to baby toads in July.

A few days ago, out of the woods where there are wild lowbush blueberries, come a flock of wild turkeys. A mom, known as a hen and six large babies, known as poults. They start walking around the upholstery shop yard foraging for food. Luckily, my wife and four year old daughter were there to see the spectacle. Suddenly my daughter exclaims, “Daddy, maybe that’s where the baby toads went”. I gasped in amazement and said, “Your right, you solved the toad mystery”. High Fives, hugs and praises to the four year old nature sleuth!