What Are People Thinking?

On Saturday I joined Randy and two of his friends (Sandy and Ben) to go furniture shopping. Randy is on the hunt for a new dining room set so we ventured out to the Greater Gardner (MA) Furniture Outlets. For some reason, there are a bunch of furniture shops dotting the retail landscape of this rather depressed area of the state. It reminded me a lot of Texas (strip malls, rundown houses, fast food restaurants) but with rolling hills and old mill buildings. In fact, most of the furniture stores seemed to be in former mills or factories (one shop was 80,000 square feet).

The stores aren’t much to right home about. I would guess that 75% of the furniture was utter crap. I saw patterns on reclining chairs that I thought (no, prayed) would have disappeared in the 70’s. Horrific vomit colored (and patterened) sofas surprised us around every corner. And then there were the knick-knacks. A fake cherry cheesecake here, an 18-inch round brown, green and orange ceramic flower bud there, a glass sheep (or penguin) over there. Who buys this stuff?

It was quite the experience. In Templeton, though, Randy did find a rather fine table that he’s considering buying so I guess the trip wasn’t a complete loss. Besides, the four of us had a blast mocking the furniture…and we shared a lovely meal in one of Gardner’s finer restaurants: KFC. Yes, Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was either that or a frankfurter place called Hot-Diggity-Dog.



  1. Comment by Will on November 6, 2006 1:16 pm

    OK, now the REALLY scary part is: that stuff sells and probably 50 to 60 percent of America buys it. For all that we can mock it, Gardner and environs is one of the success stories of manufacturing in the US these days.

  2. Comment by Will on November 6, 2006 1:18 pm

    Actually, the TOTALLY scary part is that you couldn’t tell whether the glass animal was a sheep or a penguin!

  3. Comment by Golden on November 6, 2006 2:34 pm

    When we go trick or treating with the kids, I love sneaking looks at whatever you can see from the front door. 🙂 I am always amazed! Now these are not fancy houses here- fairly working class town in large ranches for the most part. But, meticulously maintained, recently redecorated with brand new furniture and wall to wall carpeting…..in exactly that kind of stuff you saw in Gardner! I guess they loved it 30 years ago and when they redecorate these days, they buy it again new. Unbelievable!

  4. Comment by The Persian on November 6, 2006 5:57 pm

    Sadly Gardner (being an ex Mill town) is a very sad and depressing place. When I moved into this condo I needed a few important pieces (namely a couch) and set off to hit the “traditional” furniture stores/outlets. I could not find anything I was comfortable with. It took forever, but thankfully a local Interior design house (Botaro-Skolnick) had something exceptional.

    I agree with Will, supply and demand, the onlyr reason that crap fills furniture stores is that people buy it!


  5. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on November 6, 2006 10:35 pm

    Ok, hold on a minute. “A fake cherry cheesecake here…” One minute you’re popping a boner to explore the fake plastic food market in Tokyo, and now you’re sneering at the same dreck in your own back yard? Although I imagine they didn’t have passable abalone or maki replicas in Gardner…
    You are SUCH a plasticist! (or Plasticyst…that can be removed)

  6. Comment by Six on November 7, 2006 10:39 am

    It’s retro. Everyone knows it’s back in. Get with the program. Jump on the bandwagon. It’s a classic — sure it’ll be out of style in a month, but 30 years from now it’ll be back in.


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