The pandemic has given subscription furniture a boost. Will it last?
The stories of how the pandemic created a boom time for the domestic sector have not been exaggerated. The past year and a half has prompted people to reevaluate and reinvest in their living spaces, and it appears to include renters as well as landlords. The booming subscription furniture industry, a new but growing industry before COVID, has taken off with more than half a dozen startups (a rapidly growing list that now includes Fernish, Feather, ZZ Driggs, Oliver Space, Conjure and The Everset) vying for clients in major cities across the United States
Faced with the myriad of uncertainties posed by the pandemic, it’s easy to see how the flexibility offered by the subscription model has seemed more appealing than ever to the masses of people who moved last year. “[It] adapts well during uncertain times because you don’t necessarily have to commit, âexplains Kristin smith, president and COO of Los Angeles-based furniture rental brand Fernish. âThings changed rapidly last year. Maybe you needed an office for a few months; maybe you needed it for a year. As people start to make the transition to working from home, we’ve seen the first of several big bumps. “
Fernish was not alone. New York-based ZZ Driggs has seen 45% month-over-month growth since the fall. Nickson, a turnkey rental startup based in Dallas that offers packages that include everything from a sofa to a corkscrew, saw its revenue increase 700% last year. (The company also just closed a $ 12 million Series A funding round.) Daniel ramirez, the co-founder and CEO of Conjure, another New York-based startup with an organized, design-focused line of rental furniture, said BOH that every month over the past four months has turned out to be the best in company history.
Courtesy of ZZ Driggs
Adding to the delays that most large furniture retailers continue to add to people moving indefinitely. âMany retailers are currently looking at three to six month lead times for something like a sofa,â says Ramirez. âWe have stacks of canapes and can get them to you within days. “
Conjure and several of its competitors offer options to purchase their furniture directly, with monthly rental payments going towards the overall cost of the room, meaning that subscribers essentially build up equity during their rental. âWe actually accelerated this supply because there was so much demand for it,â says Whitney falk, the founder and CEO of ZZ Driggs. âWe originally planned for this to be an option that we brought forward much further, but we kept hearing from our customers that they had fallen in love with the coins and wanted to keep them. “
Millennials and Gen Z consumers were already on the move more frequently than previous generations, but the pandemic and the dramatic increase in remote work opportunities has led to an increase in more nomadic lifestyles, with people spending a few hours. months in a city before moving elsewhere. The flexibility offered by rental services easily aligns with such a lifestyle, and as these businesses expand to more cities, it opens up the possibility for a single user to rent the same rooms when they move. moves. Fernish and Feather have both recently expanded to major markets in Texas, and Feather now also operates in the Washington, DC metro area, bringing its total reach to over 2,000 zip codes. Nickson, Conjure and ZZ Driggs also plan to expand outside of their home territory in the near future.
Rental furniture may also be attractive to the design community, as most of these companies offer home staging packages. ZZ Driggs went so far as to launch a commercial program. âInterior designers have become an important part of our clientele,â says Falk. âWhen you think about all the furniture needed during that interstitial period – when the sofa has a 36 week delivery time because it is from Italy, but the customer needs to be in their new space right away – it s turned out to be huge for us. . “
Courtesy of Conjurer
Containment-induced demand for two categories in particular, office and outdoor furniture, has prompted companies to expand their product offering. âWe just launched outdoor furniture, which makes a lot of sense on a rental basis,â explains Ilyse Kaplan, the president and chief operating officer of Feather. “It’s something you might need, depending on where you live, just a few months out of the year, so you can save space and cost during those off months by just renting out a part of it.” the year. “
With the growing popularity of subscription furniture, the services are becoming more and more specialized. ZZ Driggs, for example, offers high-end furniture and even antiques. Conjure has taken a highly organized approach, offering cutting-edge collections based on the aesthetics of New York City neighborhoods. Nickson is more of a turnkey solution, presenting consumers with packages that completely furnish and stock a home (down to light bulbs, towels, and cutlery) with no a la carte options. Feather has started partnering with popular retailers like Floyd and West Elm, while Fernish has popular designs similar to what you might find at a major retailer. It’s an increasingly crowded area, and as younger generations continue to delay homeownership, an area that is likely to continue to add players.
Photo of the home page: A space designed by Conjure | Courtesy of Conjurer