Chapter

A Perfect Storm for the Building Industry

Richard Harris

in Building a Market

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780226317663
Published online September 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226317687 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226317687.003.0006
A Perfect Storm for the Building Industry

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Competition from mail-order companies forced lumber dealers to rethink their strategy, particularly with respect to consumers. More specifically, lumber dealers diversified their product lines and loosened ties to the lumber trade. By the early 1920s they were learning to deal with the new competitors. Just when they were gathering momentum, sales of lumber fell due to competition from other building materials that were not only cheaper but also safer or easier to use. Consumers began to spend their money more on other consumer goods, especially automobiles, instead of housing. Residential construction fell into a rut, exacerbated by the Crash of 1929. This building catastrophe paved the way for the emergence of home improvement as an industry and as a social phenomenon. By 1931, the Depression had given birth to the culture of do-it-yourself as a means of home improvement.

Keywords: lumber dealers; consumers; lumber trade; competition; building materials; consumer goods; housing; home improvement; Depression; do-it-yourself

Chapter.  12972 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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