5 Furniture Shopping Tips

Despite the crummy real estate market and generally listing economy, now is a good time to go furniture shopping, apparently. That’s partly because consolidation and increased competition has squeezed out everyone except for discount-happy big box retailers in some cities, and partly because business is down overall this year so everyone is trying to attract more customers with markdowns.

But “shopping for furniture is treacherous,” says the editor of ConsumerAffairs.com in the Times article. Here are five things to do to avoid paying too much, buying the wrong piece, or not getting what you thought you paid for.

  • Research – “approach furniture buying as you would car buying”
  • Room Plans – use available services to enter your room measurements and avoid the “scale problem” (buying something that looks like will fit just fine, but doesn’t)
  • Store Visit – take as long as you can to sit, open and close, and generally inspect every inch, or find an outlet or furniture warehouse and shop there to ensure the model you examine is the product you’ll receive
  • Delivery – your best bet is to buy what you want off the floor, load it yourself into your van or truck, and get the hell out of there
  • Laways and Financing – avoid these like Britney avoids panties

“A Good Time to Sharpen Furniture Shopping Skills” [New York Times]

Top 10 Furniture Shopping Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”
(Photo: crazyegg95)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    You know what I hate about furniture shopping? Those furniture stores that have “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS” painted across their windows for well over a year. You walk in, and they talk about how everything has to go, and you see overpriced items that are on average 10% off. Last time I was in one, I found a relatively inexpensive, comfortable recliner. I looked closer a the price, and it was actually marked UP (just like the Wal-mart signs). Plus, they all work on comission, so they are like vultures. I can say all this, because I used to work in the furniture business (at places like that, and Ikea). I suggest to anyone looking to furnish a place, and not drop crazy cash on old people’s furniture, to go to Ikea. Make sure what you buy is either solid wood, or at least has a clearly indicated weight rating. Also ask those in the department how often they have to replace the display modeles. They get far more wear and tear than you’d put them through at home, but if a night stand has to be replaced once a week because the drawer falls apart, then stay away from it.

  2. amoeba says:

    I just purchased a drawer for only $100 dollars (dark wood, just a beauty). It was retailed for $500 dollars, it only had a few cosmetic problems and a very small scratch. I do shop in my local Furniture Stores, usually at Outlets, so far I’ve never seen in my little town those signs “Out Of Business”. I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, but just by curiosity I went to see their furniture, and gosh, I did got a great deal! Thanks Walters for this post. I like the “Room Plans” tip, I usually forget the dimensions of my house :-)

  3. bygones says:

    I recently bought some new furniture, and I have to say I was thrilled with La-z-boy! I bought a sofa and recliner and my expectations were exceeded in every way. We had an unusually colored rug to coordinate colors with, so we brought the smaller rug “runner” to the store and matched it with the (literally hundreds) of swatches in the showroom. You can cover any piece of furniture in the store with your choice of upholstery. We paid a couple hundred extra $ for the custom upholstery, but after hoofing it through several other warehouses full of furniture and only finding a couple of ill-fitting possibilities, we were happy to find a solution. It was a good place to shop. They have pads of ‘tear-off’ spec sheets with measurements and drawings of every available piece in a group. Since you can get anything in any color, the showroom was smaller than those huge warehouse furniture places we had already been to because they don’t have to show any more than one color of anything. They had some demo pieces of ‘unconstructed’ chairs, so you didn’t have to wonder about the quality of the construction. The price was still in the range of what we were looking at elsewhere. Delivery charge and protection plan was the same as we were quoted at the other places, plus they took are old stuff away for free. We were told delivery would be 8-10 weeks, but was delivered in 3. They called and confirmed delivery times twice, arrived 10 minutes early, and were in and out within 15 minutes. I know I sound like a spammy shill, but I’m not. I have no stake in la-z-boy and don’t know anybody who does. I was just expecting ~something~ to go sour during this experience, and nothing ever did. If you need to coordinate some weird colors, here’s the place for reasonably priced custom furniture. It was on Route 4 in Paramus, NJ, and I think our salesperson was John.

  4. sduane says:

    I don’t see any reason to avoid financing deals, even if you have all the money up front (unless you’re absolutely terrible about managing your money, which I don’t think many who read this site are). I just bought some furniture and in the run up to the decision I ran the numbers on several of the deals being offered in my area.

    One in particular was with Art Van. They offered 0% financing for 18 months or they’d pay the sales tax (a mental math unfriendly 6% here in mitten land). Let’s say that your purchase comes to a nice round $3500 with tax included. The amount of sales tax paid would be around $200 — a nice little bonus bit of cash. However, it’s not nearly as nice as what you could have if you put that money in a savings account and paid off the tab $200 per month. At that rate you’d have the furniture paid off just in time to avoid nasty back interest and (assuming the $3500 was all there was in the account to start with) you’d end up with about $1400 in accumulated interest earnings on that money — a substantially more pleasing sum than $200.

  5. bnorton says:


    I agree with your concept but I think you calculated the interest over 18 years not 18 months. Or your somehow getting a 25% interest rate.