Let’s suppose that your church is desiring to replace your worship seating with new church chairs. Once your church has set upon that course and made that decision, there inevitably will be an entire host of additional decisions that your church will also be faced with. Do you require bookracks on your church chairs? Do you need card and pencil/pen holders for the chairs? How wide do you want the chairs to be? What is the desired frame finish? These and other choices will occupy your attention. Likely though, no choice will be more critical for the aesthetics of your environment than the fabric your church chairs will be upholstered with. Here then is a primer on the fabric options available for your new church chairs from most respected manufacturers.
While there are thousands of fabric options technically available to your church for your church chairs, the majority of those options will be eliminated if you are needing your new church chairs in a relatively short time-frame. Most manufacturers of church chairs and even importers of church chairs maintain some inventory of completed church chairs in a few very basic fabrics. By “basic” we mean very standard colors (burgundy, black, gray, blue, tan, etc.). This inventory can fluctuate as it can be depleted very quickly by one large order at times. But for a church needing their chairs very quickly for whatever reason, having these church chairs completed and in stock does provide an expeditious option.
But let’s assume that your church has a significant lead time to work with before your new church chairs are needed. With that being the case, the myriad of fabric options for your new church chairs remain viable. However, these extensive fabric options really are more in the domain of a true manufacturer of church chairs. An importer of church chairs most commonly purchases chairs from a factory in Asia, then has them shipped to the United States, and will then primarily focus on selling the chairs imported in this manner, versus providing your church extensive customization for your new church chairs in areas beyond fabric. So since a “true” manufacturer of church chairs, versus a “pretend” manufacturer of church chairs, offers so many more options to your church we’ll give our attention here to “true” manufacturers.
We find that normally manufacturers of church chairs will have a large number of “in-house” fabrics for your church to choose from. These fabrics will be separated by “grades” with the higher grades having various upcharges added to their cost. The number of in-house fabric choices available to your church may be as few as 100 and as many as 500. The fabric collections for their higher grades will tend to have some degree of unique styling. Your church will be provided with sample swatches of these fabrics once you narrow your choices a bit (sending your church 500 fabric swatches is not feasible but sending ten swatches is). The significant advantages of your church choosing the fabric for your new church chairs from the manufacturer’s in-house collections are that they tend to be very available from a timing standpoint and also tend to be very reasonably priced. We always stress to churches that if possible, they should choose from the collections the church chair manufacturer has assembled for these very reasons.
However, if none of the fabrics from the manufacturer’s in-house collections meet the requirements of the particular environment of your church, there is an additional option for your church. Major fabric mills within the United States manufacture many thousands of additional fabric collections. While it can be a time-consuming process to process even a fraction of all the choices available via this route, the reality is that most of these fabrics are available for your new church chairs. But as mentioned above, stepping outside the in-house collections of the church chair manufacturer will result in higher costs for your chairs and it is also likely the amount of time needed for your order to be produced will be lengthened as there is now essentially an additional manufacturer (of fabric) in the mix. Pursuing this route will familiarize your church with the acronym “COM” which means “Customer’s Own Material”. The customer, in this case your church, is purchasing your fabric choice yourself and then shipping it to the manufacturer to be used in producing your church chairs. Since each church chair requires a specific amount of yardage, the manufacturer can supply that requirement to your church and you simply purchase the needed yardage times your total number of chairs. If you choose a fabric with extensive design, the amount of fabric yardage needed will likely increase as you want your chairs to look the same in terms of how lines/stripes/patterns line up. To accomplish this, often there is a need for some fabric to be wasted. But again, while there exists a plethora of great fabric choices for your church chairs through this method, we would want to remind you again that your expenses will certainly increase and that our experience is that your lead time will as well.
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