Geek Chic entrepreneur Robert Gifford creates custom furniture for avid gaming aficionados in his Everett, WA workshop and he hopes the Sharks are game to invest in his business in episode 423. Gifford is a self-described Dungeons and Dragons geek from way back and he sought to create a multi-functional storage and game play solution for himself which morphed into a business. Geek Chic's heirloom quality, custom furniture is like purchasing a “new antique;” all the woods are custom finished to the customer's specifications and each piece of Geek Chic custom furniture is a unique addition to any home.
Is Custom Furniture a Viable Business?
Furniture is a $50 BILLION a year market in the USA; everyone needs it and everyone has it. At one time or another, if you own or rent a home, you've bought furniture. Geek Chic isn't your run-of-the-mill, bargain furniture; it's custom furniture designed around a gaming lifestyle. Whether you like to play cards or D&D, or any other role-playing games, Geek Chic will design a custom table that will accommodate your gaming interests and storage needs while doubling as a solid, quality coffee or dining room table.
Furniture is one of those items in the home that I personally don't mind spending a few extra dollars on. When I purchase furniture, I look at it as something I will have to live with for at least 20 years, so I look for quality construction, aesthetics, and functionality. If what suits my personal needs costs a bit more than a “bargain furniture store” piece, I'll plunk down the extra cash.
My father dabbles in custom furniture too, not as an avocation, but as a hobby. Our home includes a beautiful hutch, corner cabinet, and entertainment center built by my dad (he's no slouch at wood working). Comparable custom furniture from a manufacturer like Geek Chic would cost over $10K. Geek Chic custom furniture isn't cheap – a new coffee table will run around $3K, but when you amortize the cost out over 20 years, that isn't expensive when you consider how often you will use it over that time period. Quality craftsmanship always comes at a price.
Are the Sharks Game for Custom Furniture?
I am confident that Geek Chic has a solid business in place. I assume they are looking to the Sharks to help with expanding their geographic presence, whether via more retail outlets or an aggressive eCommerce strategy. While there is no denying the quality of the furniture, I am not sure the Sharks will bite on this one. The biggest problem I see is the custom aspect of the business, I am not sure it's scalable. There are custom furniture craftsmen in every major metropolitan area, Geek Chic just happens to be in an interesting niche. Gifford may field a ridiculous offer or two (Mr. Wonderful will most likely want to license the designs), but I think the Sharks stay out on this one. That said, I'll take a Hoplite Table in a light maple finish to go, please!