After finishing upholstery training and finding the right location for your upholstery shop, you will need to find good suppliers. When setting up a small business such as an upholstery shop, it can be hard to find the right suppliers. I tried all of the methods listed during my years as a professional upholsterer, and each method served the purpose of leading me to a supplier who provided the wholesale materials needed to complete the job.
Where to Find Upholstery Suppliers
- Word of mouth - Check with other upholsterers to see if they are willing to share names of their suppliers. Some will be willing to share, while others may want to keep their fabric sources a secret. If the first shop manager you contact does not want to share the information, contact another one. The benefits of this approach are that some managers will go as far as giving you the phone number and address of the supplier. You can get a look at the quality of materials from different suppliers. Finally, some people like to talk about it when they have a bad experience with a business, so you can use this method to weed out unreliable upholstery suppliers.
- Internet auction sites - Start by checking the seller's rating and comments from past customers if you are considering buying upholstery supplies or tools from an Internet auction site. Avoid sellers with poor reviews. As long as you are careful in researching the seller before committing to the purchase, you can save a lot of money on upholstery materials, sometimes even going below wholesale prices. The main drawback of buying this way is you might have a hard time returning or matching the fabric if you run into a problem.
- Trade and specialty magazines - Trade magazines are loaded with articles about other shops, new techniques, and new products plus where to get them, and finally advertisements placed by hopeful suppliers. You can use the provided contact information to request samples or swatch books and to get information about setting up an account. Specialty magazines contain similar information and ads, so do not overlook them as a source if your shop specializes in a specific type of upholstery.
- Internet search engines - If none of these other approaches for finding an upholstery supplier fill the bill for you, use your favorite search engine. Even if you already have a favored wholesale supplier, this approach can be helpful if you are looking for hard-to-find materials or specific brands.
- Manufacturers - If you are looking for a specific brand of fabric or upholstery tools and cannot find a supplier, you can contact the manufacturer for help. Some manufacturers use only a limited number of suppliers, so this can often save you time when searching.
You can sometimes also find shops and factories that have gone out of business and purchase their unused inventory at a fraction of the original price. This will not provide you with a reliable wholesale supplier, but it can help to build up your shop's inventory.
Copyright Laure Justice