The New Naked
Shaker-like hutches, tables, chairs, and bookcases in maple, elm, and quarter-sawn white oak.
Owner Ron LaFleur says: "I have a gut feeling that things are about to get a lot better in the furniture business. People want solid, good-quality furniture these days. And they don't want to do their own finishing. It's a thankless job, if you do it right."
LaFleur knows how to do it right. He has a furniture finishing operation in Hartland where he custom paints or stains anything he sells. "I'm in that shop at five in the morning when the rooster cocka-doodle-doos, lighting the woodstove." Actually holding the paintbrush himself? "I don't use a paintbrush--I use a sprayer," he counters. He does add that the Amish prefer to do their own custom finishing, and more and more of his inventory is coming from their factories.
LaFleur's Naked Furniture is unrelated to the Royal Oak store of the same name. Once a corporation with fifty-four franchises, Naked Furniture disbanded in 2008, and some of the store owners, like LaFleur, struck off on their own.
He still stocks the back showroom with more inexpensive lines of pine furniture: a pine cube is his best seller at $30. People use it for nightstands, end tables, or bookcases.