We never made a conscious decision to make 1950s style restaurant furniture. It just sort of happened. My Grandpa opened RIchardson Seating in 1975 and he started with the styles he was familiar with. They weren't exactly considered retro styles back them. Back then it was just typical furniture but it probably looked a bit dated when we started.
As the years went by, many companies came up with new styles of furniture. We didn't. Many companies started to import chairs from China. Again this is something that we didn't get into. We saw the writing on the wall with Chinese imports. One of our biggest product lines in the 80s was stack chairs. We made 10s of thousands of chairs. Guess how many stack chairs we make now? Pretty much zero.
As the prices on stack chairs were falling, we decided to get out of the stack chair business. We used to be able to sell stack chairs for $40-$100 each. With the inexpensive stack chairs from overseas, a stack chair started as low as $8 per unit.
Companies would buy the chairs for $8 and then sell them for $11. We didn't know how to make money doing that so we decided to stick with higher end upholstered furniture. This wasn't easy for us. During 2005-2010 time period, it was very hard for us to compete with our American made furniture. Rather than start importing, we decided to double down on our higher quality American made furniture. We started advertising a whole bunch. We realized that most people didn't know our style of furniture still existed.
As we did research on our competitors, we realized that there aren't that many companies like ours that specialize in heavy duty restaurant furniture with custom upholstery. Rather than be another "importer" bringing in the same Chinese furniture and competing on price, we wanted to increase the sales of our specialty furniture that we make well.
As we have been advertising more, we have been able to get lots of restaurants and chains interested in our style of furniture. There are so many different options of color and style that can be expressed with the wonderful colors available from companies like Naugahyde and Nassimi.
When you look at our line, it does look like a retro line. I think of the 1950s when I think of retro and many of our items would fall under the 1950s or fabulous fifties category. We carry a lot of chrome frames and chrome plated steel and the 1950s look go hand in hand.
We also offer lots of retro upholstery patterns like Naugahyde Zodiac and Cracked Ice.