Ahhh, the story of the reupholstered cushions! You think it would have been simple. Find an upholster, call them, bring them in and have them done. But, nay, the story was a little longer than that one.
After I tried and failed to take the van to a local camp ground to test it out and stay overnight because they were booked (COVID — everyone had the same idea), I figured it was a good time to bring in the cushions to get them reupholstered. The original cushion fabric was a kind of purple color with a pattern. It is a 2001 Roadtrek so this was on par for the times. For being twenty years old, they were, surprisingly, in great shape.
I went online and Googled “upholster” in my area. I figure it must be a dying art because very few came up. There were two that seemed to have great reviews. So, I called the first one that was a little further from me, but I was willing to drive further to get a great outcome. I called him and he actually worked out of his home which was fine to me. We set a day and time for me to bring the cushions and drop them off. This was in September. He was busy but said he would get to them and maybe work on them in between his other orders. I was fine with that. He didn’t give me a specific timeline but I figured maybe a couple of weeks. Ahhh, nope. After I never heard from him for over a month, I called him to see where he was at with them. His response: “I haven’t started them yet.” What??? He also never gave me an estimate of price so I have no clue what he was going to charge me. Needless to say, I was a little miffed and told him I would come pick them up. He wasn’t very happy when I came to get them and I have quite a few cushions and he just sat there watching me come back and forth grabbing cushions to put them in my car while he drank his soda and watched me with a mad facial expression. Okay, well, whew. I’ll call and take them to the other upholster.
I called the other upholstery place which was right by my house. He said that, yes, he could do them and I could bring them in. I already had the fabric. He looked at what I had and told me it would be $800 and I would have to put $400 down. It was more than I expected but I knew this was going to be the most expensive part of my redo for my van so I was okay with it. He said it would take 4 to 6 weeks. Okay, makes sense. But, I already lost a month from the last guy. So, I paid the $400 and knew a timeline for when they would be done. Great! I thought.
When four weeks went by, I didn’t hear anything. Then, I waited until six weeks . . . still nothing. I called him and asked where he was at with them. Guess what? HE HADN’T EVEN STARTED THEM!!! Now, I’ve run and owned a couple of different businesses and if I told someone that something would be done by a certain time and, I know, sometimes things happen, and I couldn’t deliver by that time, I would reach out and let the customer know and give them a time I would have them done by. Nope, no call to let me know. He said it was going to be another at least four weeks. Ugh. Not much I could do.
Four weeks go by with no word. After five weeks I call him and . . . HE’S STILL NOT DONE! I waited another week and I wrote him through his website that I had wanted to take a trip but I couldn’t because my cushions were my bed! He wrote me the next day and said he had two more to finish and would be done by that week. He did stay true to that. I’m sure he realized that he couldn’t put me off any longer. I had dropped my cushions off November 13th to him and didn’t get them back until the end of January.
So, all together, I brought my cushions in to get reupholstered in September of 2020 and didn’t get them back until January of 2021. I will say that the one that did them did an amazing job and I’m really happy with them! I’m actually having him do one more cushion for me because he had some extra material left over that I gave him. This cushion isn’t part of my bed so even if it takes longer, I’m fine with that.
I just wanted to tell this story because if you are considering or are doing van life and want to get them reupholstered, you know to ask how long it will take and how much it is going to cost right up front. I think both of them thought that it wasn’t much of a rush because it was a van and it was winter in Minnesota. I don’t think they thought I would be taking the van out. Here’s the thing, whatever I was going to do, it didn’t matter. If I’m paying $800 (or any amount), I would expect them to be done within a reasonable amount of time. And, for us van dwellers, our cushions aren’t just to have somewhere comfortable to sit, do work and eat — they are our beds! It’s what we rearrange to sleep on at night.
Lesson learned and I’m glad I can share so if you are planning on getting your cushions redone, you don’t have to go through what I did. And, that’s the whole point of documenting my journey from buying my van in August 2020 and what I am discovering. To share stories like this and what I’m running in to.
Thanks for following along!