If you’ve ordered outdoor furniture recently, you’ve likely been surprised by lead times that range from three to six months. It’s disappointing and frustrating for consumers, and it’s a supply chain model begging for disruption. Disruption is precisely what Cliff Wooldridge had in mind when he started Harbor Classic, a high-quality outdoor furniture brand that offers delivery as soon as (you might want to sit down, friend) the same day.
What began as an e-commerce site recently morphed into Harbor Classic’s first brick-and-mortar store in the Belle Hall Shopping Center. The 3,000-square-foot showroom has every piece in stock that’s displayed online, and it will deliver and set it up, at no additional charge, within the next business day, guaranteed. You’re probably wondering how that’s possible. It’s simple: Wooldridge, the genius behind the brand and the service model, is a highly decorated, retired marine whose training and experience make him immune to perceived obstacles.
Here’s how it works: Wooldridge and his seasoned team designed bespoke lines of luxury outdoor furniture, built a manufacturing facility, hired industry-leading craftsman and artisans who would adhere to the former marine’s stratospheric expectations for quality control, then invested millions of dollars into inventory and local warehouse space.
“From residential customers to designers and commercial projects, there’s a huge need for outdoor furniture in Charleston,” Wooldridge says. “Most customers we’ve dealt with are frustrated by industry-standard lead times online and locally in Charleston. If you order in spring or summer, you’ll spend more time waiting on it than enjoying it at home. Most retailers in this space take orders and wait until they’ve compiled enough customer orders and then set out to purchase from various third-party manufacturers and wholesalers. Quality is really sacrificed as a result, and lead times are lengthy. I knew we could do it better. We’ve made significant investments into our inventory, and we keep everything local, all right here in Charleston. If you tell me you’ve got a party tonight and need a new dining set, I can meet your needs that very day. We’ll get it there and set it up with our complimentary white-glove delivery. We have a small but powerful team. We only display what we have in stock; if we can’t send it the next day, it’s removed from our website and placed back when we can. We pride ourselves on being open and honest with our customers.”
Harbor Classic is not only giving Charlestonians instant gratification, it also isn’t selling someone else’s furniture. “We’re not just the fastest online shipping and local delivery retail store; we design everything in-house and, as a result, have superior quality control among any of our competitors,” Wooldridge says. “Owning every step of the process provides an outstanding level of craftsmanship. Our customers are getting true works of art handcrafted by our industry-leading artisans. Our prices are fair, mainly due to us cutting out the middleman. We avoid industry markups and pass those savings on to our customers. Our model includes next-day shipping with Sunbrella cushions and fabrics (for pieces that require a cushion) at no upcharge. We simply offer the best in class in every category to ensure our customers receive what they should have received all along.”
Harbor Classic’s bestseller is the Charleston Harbor Collection, generously proportioned chairs, sofas, love seats, chaise lounges and full dining collections made from grade-A teak. The pieces are refined, versatile and warm and will last for decades. Each piece is crafted and sanded by hand, and all seating comes with weather-friendly Sunbrella fabric cushions in various neutral colors.
The Newport Harbor Collection is another bestseller. Made from handwoven wicker with warm teak accents, this classic and infinitely configurable collection evokes breezy coastal evenings on the piazza. If you want a more contemporary vibe, the Savannah Harbor Collection is designed for terrace living, with powder-coated onyx aluminum frames, clean lines and contrasting Sunbrella cushions. The Nantucket and Seward collections have a more relaxed feel, with airy furniture made from teak and tightly woven rope.
Each collection has options for lounge chairs, sofas, love seats, club chairs, chaise lounges, dining tables, dining chairs and benches, coffee tables, side tables and ottomans. Adirondack chairs, bar tables and chairs, and umbrellas are also in the collections.
If you get to talk to Wooldridge, and I hope you do, you’ll see that he doesn’t mess around. He wants people to be happy and is laser-focused on making that happen. “The hot months are coming up, and people are building new homes and renovating their outdoor spaces,” he says. “If you need new furniture or you’re waiting weeks and possibly months for it, cancel your order. Come see us at the Belle Hall Shoppes, and we’ll bring it over tomorrow.” *
Robin Howard is a freelance writer in Charleston. See more of her work at robinhowardwrites.com.