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Industry News and Features

Resources: Visalia Times-Delta

Brice Hare is owner and operator of Quality Upholstery on Main Street in Visalia, which provides both commercial and home reupholstering and furniture restoration services.

Q: How did you get into the upholstery business?

A: I worked at Jostens for 27 years and then bought [Quality Upholstery] in 2006. The shop is 34 years old. It was originally on Mooney Boulevard and then moved to Main Street.

I can upholster, but I pretty much spend my time running the business, taking bids from customers. When you start a project, you have to put all your thought on it. You can't really start it and then pull away and go back to it, so I keep to the business side.

Sometimes, when it gets really busy, I hire part-time help, but I have two full-time employees and a bookkeeper. At the height of the business, Quality Upholstery had 12 full-time employees.

Q: Has the recession negatively or positively impacted the business? Are more people wanting to give their furniture a face-lift rather than buy something new?

A: One thing a lot of people don't understand is that [in terms of cost], re-upholstery is about the same as new furniture. We take all the old fabric totally off and check the frame to see what's going on. We don't upholster over old fabric.

Last year was a good year, but it wasn't like 2005. Business is steady.

Q: Why would someone choose upholstery instead of new furniture if the cost is comparable?

A: A lot of times, people like the way a piece looks in their house and they want custom fabric. And it's a custom job from beginning to end — there's not one guy doing the arm, one guy doing the back. The same person who starts the project completes it.

It's all about the product. Why would you want to get rid of something that is well-built? I've had people cry because they are so happy with a job. One lady told me we're like plastic surgeons for furniture, the way we transform it.

With some furniture, you only get four or five years out of it before it falls apart. I've had pieces last as long as 17 years. There's no guarantee how long something can last, but we know our fabric. We have a lot of returning customers and customers all the way from Tipton, Coalinga, Three Rivers and Kingsburg.