On a recent Saturday afternoon I was invited to venture into the depths of one of the best kept secrets in Philadelphia. Mid-Century Furniture Warehouse is a hidden Philly treasure that primarily sells to dealers, stores, interior designers, big movie sets and occasionally to the public. Upon arriving, I was greeted by Heidi Duffey (business partner of Mid-Century's owner, Brian Lawlor), who offered me a grand tour.
Our first stop was a pair of George Nelson designed, Danish style couches, which were recently used in the upcoming film Paranoia, starring Harrison Ford. Duffey revealed that they have also sold furniture to NBC's Do No Harm and Greg Berlanti's miniseries Political Animals. Later on, warehouse owner, Brian Lawlor, showed us a piece of furniture that was put through the ringer in a Will Smith action film.
Most of the furniture that is featured in the warehouse is from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Many of the pieces have a retro or antique flair to them, making a lot of them exceptional finds. In comparison to the furniture at Ikea, the prices are right on and the furniture will last a very, very long time. Many of the pieces have been through generations of families.
Duffey explained that nearly 40% of their business comes from New York, which is quite the accomplishment considering the only advertisement the establishment receives is from word of mouth. On the days that they open their doors to the public, there is often a line of people outside way before opening hours. "I've almost seen people throw down," Duffey said, "it's kind of scary". However, I'm not surprised.
Duffey and Lawlor only open their doors to the public if they have enough new inventory. You will never enter their warehouse and see the same items that you saw last time; every unsold piece goes to auctions. This keeps the prices low, and the furniture moving.
I was told that people often feel a wave of nostalgia as they travel through the warehouse. I felt it too; as we passed by an Eero Saarinen designed, white tulip table I was reminded of the times that I used to explore my great grandmothers home as a little kid. This is why people line up at the doors before opening hours; because Mid-Century Warehouse has that missing piece that people need.
After the recent move to their new location at 1701 North 2nd Street, Mid-Century is ready to make this place their new home and it looks like they're already being welcomed with open arms.