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Furniture rental startup Fernish goes bicoastal

Richard Collings
Apr 20, 2022
Two male movers, both in blue shirts, assemble furniture in a living room area with sand-colored carpet.
Photo: Fernish

Fernish, the Los Angeles-based furniture rental startup, is expanding to new markets, nearly doubling the number of customers it could potentially serve, the company's CEO and co-founder Michael Barlow tells Richard.

Why it matters: The furniture rental industry is projected to double in sales to more than $10 billion by 2031, according to market research provider Fact.MR.

  • It's a growth spurred by startups such as Fernish, which is funding the move from the $30 million round raised last year. In all, it has raised $75 million.

Details: Fernish is expanding to New York City and Washington D.C.

  • Up until this point, Fernish did business in L.A. and Southern California, the Dallas, Ft. Worth and Austin markets and Seattle, representing 30 million people.

Between the lines: "We have to be where our customers are and where they are moving to," Barlow said, noting NYC's exodus when the pandemic hit.

  • But now? "The energy is back in the city," he said. Manhattan's vacancy rate has dropped to 1.89% as of March, down from 11.25% a year ago, according to a report by appraisal firm Miller Samuel for real estate firm Douglas Elliman.

Of note: Rental is seen as a more sustainable model because it extends the life of the furniture via refurbishment.

  • About 80% of home furnishings end up in landfills, according to the EPA. Barlow said Fernish's rental and refurbishment model has saved more than one million pounds of furniture from being tossed out.
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