A Visit to Widdicomb Furniture Co., 1878
by William A. LeRow
“A walk through the northwest part of Grand Rapids brought me to the works of the old and substantial Widdicomb Furniture Company. The Widdicomb brothers started in a very small way in 1864. The company now has a paid up capital of $150,000, and is one of the soundest concerns here. They make a specialty of low-priced ash and maple bedsteads, also some of cherry and walnut. They are at present making only nine styles of work, but what they lack in variety they make up in quality. Some idea of their immense business is shown by the fact that they sawed 242,000 feet of lumber in the month of October, and their yearly consumption is between two and three million feet.
Their works, comprising five buildings, cover five acres in all, and they employ about 150 men, their work not requiring so extensive and varied a force as the other large manufacturers. Their immense establishment is admirably stocked and arranged. The company is a conservative one, employing no travelers. Their goods seem to be cheap and good to such a degree, that they are sold principally by catalogue.
Their trade, which is rapidly increasing, is mostly in the middle and western states, though a large among of business is transacted by their New York House, which is in the same building with the Berkey & Gay Furniture Co., at 17 Elizabeth Street. The Widdicomb Furniture Co. is a striking instance of the great results that have come from economy, persistence, and enterprise in the manufacture of a special class of furniture. Such businessmen as these would have succeeded almost anywhere.”
Excerpted from, “Our Grand Rapids Letter, Nov. 20, 1878.” The American Cabinet Maker, Upholsterer and Carpet Reporter, December 7, 1878, page 14