Monday, September 8, 2008

Our Interview with Bourgeoisfurniture

Who are you? We are Bourgeois Furniture, Cabinets & More. This is a family-owned and operated business with two general partners, Joseph W. Bourgeois and Joseph L. Bourgeois, father and son. Sharon K. Bourgeois, my wife, is our bookkeeper.

Where are you located? We are located south of Bunker Hill, WV on Rte. 11 about 7 miles north of Winchester Virginia and 30 miles south of Hagerstown, MD.

What do you create? We build custom cabinets and furniture as well at other items for the home (e.g. mantles and hutches). We are featuring this fall chip carved items such as cookbook stands, counter wine racks, canes, humidors, and plaques. We also do mill work which includes repairing older furniture. Finally, we do whole house restoration. In this latter work we focus on homes built before 1900 in which the recreation of older carpentry is needed.

Where do you sell your creations? We, of course, sell our creations on Also, we are featured in and at Tamarack, the artisan center run by the state of West Virginia in Beckley, WV. Besides this our work is available in numerous craft and antique stores in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

Where do you create? Our creations are produced in a 50’ x 30’ fully equipped shop we constructed behind our family house. Besides there we produce our works on location either installing something we made in the shop or building it on the spot.

What inspires you? We are inspired fundamentally by beauty, either that which is all around us in nature or that produced by other artisans. These latter begin with the cabinetmaker that I worked for as a boy, beginning at 12 years old (I’m 61 now). I was also inspired as I began to set up our business by Alexander Hamilton’s vision of an industrial America and the kind of citizens it would take to populate such a place.

Is your Etsy shop a full-time job, part-time job, or hobby? Our Etsy shop is just another attempt to reach out into the community around us and display our goods. As of yet, we have had no sales on it, so other than checking it every evening and investigating other ways to highlight it, it involves little of our time.

What type of marketing is the most effective for you? Word of mouth has always been the most effective for us. Over the past few years we have also seen success through a networking group called BNI, a group of professionals that function as salespersons for each other.

What do you do when you are not creating? Eating and sleeping. We read quite a bit, but that is usually with an eye to understanding some aspect of our business or the marketplace around us.

What role does creativity play in your marketing methods? Beyond displaying past works of creativity we try to work with potential customers and help them to create also. Custom work has two important hurdles: cost to value and the discipline it takes to form and make decisions about what is appropriate. For most of our customers the first hurdle has already been overcome. They understand that the cost to value ratio is highly in their favor when they purchase one of our creations. After all, they are often purchasing something which may become an heirloom. The second hurdle is the most difficult because they sometimes have to make decisions about radically changing their living space. This is hard on a multitude of levels, and our role here is merely as a consultant who understands the construction challenges and can provide them with a one-stop-shopping option.

What are your goals? Our goals include building furniture and cabinets that will last and retain their beauty and utility. Also, we are hoping to build a business that lasts for years to come and passes down through our family.

How do you envision your creations being used by your customers? We see our creations as ways for our customers to realize themselves more fully in their living spaces, that is, as products that will help them make their house a home. Many people have complimented us on our creations, but sometimes we feel that they have missed the essential factor that all our work has in common. Every piece was begun with a conversation with the purchaser.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? We are privileged to work in the craft side of the industrial scene. Here machines and materials are brought to the needs and vision of the consumer. In our largely mass produced marketplace the needs and vision of the consumer and the materials are brought to the capabilities of the machine. Craft has a long and formidable history, and we are happy (and feel very fortunate) to be able to participate in it.

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Modern Furniture said...

Very useful post, thanks for sharing it with us !!

Mystic Silks said...

Very imformative post. This family truly puts their heart and soul into the work they do!

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