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Fast-growing furniture industry setting up distribution sites in Charleston area

Charleston Trade Center

A pair of furniture manufacturers will occupy a 1.5 million-square-foot distribution center at the Charleston Trade Center in Summerville. Furniture and home furnishings is the fastest-growing import commodity at the Port of Charleston. JLL/Provided

SUMMERVILLE — Nesting consumers are spending more money to fix up their homes since the pandemic started, prompting a pair of furniture and home furnishings firms to set up distribution centers in the Charleston area to take advantage of what's become the fastest-growing import commodity at the Port of Charleston.

Twin Star Home of Delray Beach, Fla., and Commerce, Calif.-based Sagebrook Home will occupy a combined 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space at the Charleston Trade Center off Interstate 26 in Summerville.

The move will triple Twin Star's warehouse capacity in the Charleston area and give Sagebrook its first East Coast distribution site.

"These furniture distribution centers build on Charleston’s centrality to the furniture and home goods segment," Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the State Ports Authority, said in a written statement.

Furniture and home furnishings now top the list of fastest-growing imported goods both nationally and in Charleston — up 50 percent year-over-year in the U.S. and 55 percent at the Port of Charleston.

The increase actually started before the pandemic and the series of stimulus checks meant to juice the economy, "but the growth curve during the pandemic and continuing has been just unbelievable," said Micah Mallace, the SPA's senior vice president for sales and marketing.

Mallace said such fast-paced growth isn't sustainable — "You can only buy so many couches," he said — but the surging population in the Charleston area and throughout the Southeast will keep demand for home furnishings strong in coming years.

"Today, certainly in the furniture industry but broadly speaking in retail consumer goods, there has been an awakening that the Southeast is a giant marketplace," Mallace said. "It's where the growth is."   

Twin Star makes a range of indoor and outdoor furniture, including coffee tables, bar stools, fire pits and patio seating. Its products are sold through retailers like Home Depot, Costco and Wayfair. Sagebrook makes home decor, lighting fixtures and indoor and outdoor furniture. It specializes in online retail sales and has several showrooms nationwide.

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Sagebrook signed a 66-month lease with an option to extend for five years, according to documents filed with the Berkeley County Register of Deeds. Terms of the Twin Star deal were not available.

Both companies plan to begin distributing from the Charleston Trade Center site in December.

Most imported furniture is made in China and Southeast Asia countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia. Ongoing global supply chain issues that have clogged ports and warehouses and delayed shipments have hindered efforts by furniture dealers trying to sell goods from those areas.

"It’s tough. You're looking at six to 10 months" to get an order, Sagebrook CEO Justin Kachan told Furniture Today. Kachan said the family-owned company has moved some of its sourcing to Mexico to cut lead times.

Twin Star is owned by New York investment firm Z Capital Group LLC. A Bloomberg report in August stated the investment group is considering selling Twin Star, which is expected to deliver more than $80 million in earnings in 2022.

Charlotte developer The Keith Corp., which built the Charleston Trade Center, has now leased all 3 million square feet of space available at the industrial park, with tenants including German auto parts manufacturer IFA, defense contractor Curtiss Wright and third-party logistics firm RPM Warehouse.

"Charleston Trade Center is a microcosm of the city’s booming industrial economy for port-related products,” said Lee Allen, managing director of JLL, a commercial real estate firm that's marketing the property. 

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Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

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