Greycork, a furniture startup based in Providence, Rhode Island, that sought to create a stylish, easy-to-assemble alternative to Ikea, appears to be closing up shop, according to an email sent yesterday by the company’s founders, John Humphrey and Bruce Kim.
Founded by Rhode Island School of Design grads and initially funded via an Indiegogo campaign in 2015, Greycork is one of a number of startups trying to leverage direct shipping (such as Warby Parker or Casper) and technology to revolutionize the furniture market with simple, affordable, high quality, and good-looking sofas, sectionals, shelves, and tables. The company focused on well-designed basics, which it boasted involved less pieces than comparable Ikea products and were therefore quicker and easier to assemble. But, based on the founder’s email, it wasn’t able to deliver both high quality at a low price.
For those who have hung with Greycork since the earliest of our days, you will remember that our first product launch was the Brooks Table. At the time, we wanted Greycork to be known for "revolutionary quality at a revolutionary price." It turned out, we delivered quite well on the former, but not so much on the latter. We made tables that were so nice, our friends and peers couldn't afford them - even at zero margin for us. That stung.
To this day, we hold the Brooks Table in a special place in our hearts. It's a symbol of Greycork's origins, and everything we've learned. It's 100% made in the USA. It's solid wood. Everything was custom engineered by us. Stainless steel mechanisms. Three wood types available. Three sizes available. If you can invest in your furniture, this is the type of stuff you should buy.
The announcement confirms a tough reality of the modern furniture business. Between the high volume, low-cost behemoth that is Ikea, and myriad, high-price high-design boutique offerings lies a challenging middle ground, where it’s harder to make a profit.
Here’s a copy of an email from Greycork CEO John Humphrey sent to a customer earlier this week:
A visit to the Greycork website does show that some items are still available, and the founders’s email says 10 of the company’s Brooks Tables ($300-$400) are still in stock. The decision appears to have been sudden, as Greycork released a new Floating Shelf on February 2.