If there’s anything that interior designers know how to do, it’s to plan.
Plan for long delivery wait times, the countdown until the day a product comes back into stock, international shipping delays and dreaded “supply chain issues.” So designers who order from Harbor Classic, an online luxury outdoor furniture company based in Charleston, are astounded to hear how quickly they can expect their order to arrive for a client. Harbor Classic’s entire online collection ships the next day.
“They’re absolutely shocked when we say, ‘We can deliver this today,’” says Cliff Wooldridge, the owner and managing partner of Harbor Classic. “We’re greatly beating the expectations of designers.”
During the pandemic, the Marine Corps veteran witnessed communities rediscovering their outdoor spaces and going online to buy new furniture to turn their backyards into oases where they could safely enjoy company.
But many were dismayed to find that the experience was not going to be as smooth as they thought.
“A lot of people were wanting to outfit their whole backyards to entertain people,” he says. “My friends and family started to look at the prices of furniture and then the ridiculous wait time, and it was almost impossible to get outdoor furniture that was going to be able to make it to their homes in time for spring and summer. You had to wait anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks to get your furniture. Harbor Classic guarantees next-day shipping on every item we have. This is a real game-changer in the outdoor furniture industry.”
The price of outdoor furniture can be astonishing, and that’s for products that may not even last a season under the summer sun. Plus, stores were deceptive in their pricing, with the cost of cushions and accessories not included, membership required to take advantage of discounts and a long wait time for items to come back in stock.
Seeing how disappointing the shopping experience was, Wooldridge set out to start an online, bespoke outdoor furniture business, with items handcrafted by artisans, that could provide next-day shipping and better prices. He researched the industry and founded Harbor Classic, a one-stop shop where the design, production, logistics and shipping and handling is all handled in-house, removing the middleman and markups. Those savings are passed on to the consumer, giving them quality products without the sticker shock.
“We addressed and removed all the pain points you have as a consumer shopping for the highest-quality outdoor furniture,” Wooldridge explains.
Harbor Classic has its own manufacturing facility in Indonesia, where it has access to the highest-quality Grade A teak, a resilient wood that thrives outdoors and is easy to maintain. Since all the handmade products are made in the same place on the same machines, the quality is consistent. Plus, the brand only utilizes Sunbrella performance fabrics for its cushions—and they’re included in the price you see online.
Their in-house designer creates timeless pieces with a nautical flair: knotted ropes, woven wicker and sturdy aluminum. It’s all inspired by the decade Wooldridge spent in the Marine Corps—he was awarded Marine of the Year and the Navy Cross—lending to the company’s seven collections, which are inspired by the port cities of Newport, Rhode Island; Port Angeles, Washington; Seward, Alaska; Savannah, Georgia; Nantucket, Massachusetts; Freeport, Texas; and, of course, Charleston. An added bonus is that the designer will work with customers to help design their backyard.
Harbor Classic is also mindful of the planet. The company partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit that will plant a tree for every purchase made by customers of the furniture company. Customers can also take it to the next level: When they receive their surprise gift box in the mail post-purchase, it allows them to have an additional tree planted in their honor.
“We knew we were making an impact by removing trees, and we thought it would be a great gesture and also essentially carbon-neutral to replant what we did pull out,” Wooldridge says of the initiative. “It’s a way to give back and do the right thing and help the planet.” *
Christiana Lilly is a freelance journalist in Pompano Beach, Florida. See more of her work spanning the arts, community news and social justice at christianalilly.com.