I started as an apprentice when I was sixteen. At 56, I’m celebrating my 40th anniversary in the furniture upholstery business. For thirty two of the years I’ve been self employed and for twenty seven of those years here on Cape Cod. It’s hard to believe how the years have gone by so fast.
A lot has changed. No more spitting tacks, it’s staple guns now and that’s good. No more stopping at phone booths to call a customer, now just pull out your mobile device and that’s good. It’s harder to sell fabric now, most people want to supply their own. Good for the customer but not so good for the upholsterer.
The biggest change in forty years for my upholstery business is the Internet and the digital World in general. I now have a website that attracts just about all of my business. Cape Cod is quickly becoming the second home capital of the Northeast. With a Google or Bing search, customers from all over the world can find me and contract with me for their upholstery work. Amazingly, even local Cape Cod people find me from the Web.
And alot hasn’t changed. Upholstery is still kind of an ancient art. Most of the upholstery tools I use today, I used forty years ago. The digital age is left at the door when it becomes upholsterer vs. chair. Getting in the shop and upholstering each piece to perfection, that’s still what it’s all about. It’s still about hand on.
I’ve upholstered a lot of pieces of furniture over the years and I have the sore body to prove it, especially my hands. But I have a few good years left before I move on to something new. Of course I have to find that new thing first.
The things I’ve enjoyed the most is the freedom of self-employment and the countless interesting and honest people I’ve met so far. So please, no one raise up a glass and cheer “Here’s to another forty”. Rather, “Here’s to the beginning of a transition, to new and exciting things to come!”