For the last 3 years I’ve worked in furniture sales, and honestly it’s pretty a sweet gig. They actually pay me to help pick out furniture and I don’t even have to foot the bill, dream job! Ok it’s a little bit more complex than that, but I’ve picked up a few secrets of the trade that will help you immensely next time you walk into your local furniture store.
1. Set your expectations
This is true in marriage, and it’s true in furniture buying. Walk into the store knowing how much you want to spend and how long you expect the furniture to last. Yes you can buy a sofa a for $399, but no you shouldn’t expect that sofa to hold up more that 5 years. It’s a mean trade off between cost and quality. Here are some examples of reasonable expectations:
under $2,000 10-15 year sofa
under $1,400 for a 7-10 year sofa
under $500 for a 5-7 year sofa.
Of course there are always plenty of exceptions to the rule, but those have more to do with frame and style than price point. We’ll save those for another post.
Take a girl friend (or another trusted adviser), leave your wallet at home, hit the stores and try some sofas! Your goal isn’t to find the sofa but to get a good idea of the various retail outlets, styles, and comfort levels available. Use that time to choose a few favorite frames, rule out the stores that don’t interest you, and make notes of manufactures you like (Lane, Lazboy, Rowe, Mitchell Williams, Klaussner) to help with a little bit of online research later. I’ve found that over the years most gentlemen don’t mind picking out a sofa, but they loath the long shopping process. Effective pre shopping allows them to be actively involved in the decision, yet not submersed so much that they are annoyed all along the way.
3. Always Ask
Does this come in other colors, shorter, longer. The options are often endless yet the typically will cost a little extra. Some of them are worth it, some are a little more than a quick up sell. The ‘worth it’ up grades in my book are a cushion core upgrade which is not always available but when it is it can make a big difference in the comfort and longevity of a sofa. And of course the fabric, I’d almost always opt for a minimal price increase for a sofa I just love to look at, however don’t be fooled just because a fabric is expensive doesn’t mean it will hold up over time.
4. Your Best Asset the Sales team
Yes at times sales people get a wrap for being hawklike vulture creatures and there is a good reason for that, we are desperate to help (ok and make a little money). But the annoyance aside take into account that these people know the store inside out, can point out the killer bargains, and unveil a beautiful sofa you might have walked right by. If you let them the sales staff can be your best asset but with all relationships it all starts with good communication. The more you can tell the person in front of you what you are looking for the faster and more effective they can help you. Show them pictures, use references from other brands, most should know styles from the nation wide chains like Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel. Of course, the process always begins somewhere if you are approaching the store for the first time and just want to look, tell them! Politely ask if they would check on you in 15 minutes to answer questions you might have. They are happy not to be a vulture and you are happy not to be analyzed! Win win!
And just as always be your nice charming self, some consider it common curtesy, some would consider it good business practice, but the truth of the matter is the more the sales person likes you, they will work harder to get you a better deal, trust me, I do it all the time.
Those tips will get you a long way to purchasing the sofa you and your spouse love without fighting through the whole journey. Just remember, once your new sofa is in your home and the bill is paid, more than a pretty paisley print you’ll want your spouse by your side.