What you should know before stepping into a furniture store

What you should know before stepping into a furniture store

Buying furniture isn’t something you do every day. And it might overwhelm you to think of spending money on something that’s going to live with you for a while ­— but it doesn’t have to be a stressful process.

“The key is to find a store you’re comfortable with, find a salesperson or manager who you really like doing business with, get to know them, and continue to go back to them with your needs,” says Angie’s List member James Flaviani of Warner Robins, Ga. “I’m not against paying a bit more for a product when I get great customer service, personal attention and fast, quality delivery.”

Our highly rated experts offer this advice on how to get the most out of your furniture shopping experience:

Gather your ideas

Whether you’re in the market for a new couch, table or an entire bedroom suite, take some time to look through catalogs and websites to find what you like.

“Online research is almost always where one should start,” says Amy Hellebuyck, spokeswoman for La-Z-Boy. “Exploring Pinterest can help establish your style-sense and going through magazines for inspiration can also be beneficial. Also, retailers have online tools allowing you to play with fabrics to see a look before you buy.”

Know your space

Before you leave the house, take measurements of the room for which you’re buying furniture. Note the distance between windows, walls, doorways and air vents. Measuring the size of your current furniture will also help you decide the proper size and fit for new items.

Don’t forget to measure your entry door, too — especially in older homes — so you know if the new purchase will fit through the threshold. And if the new furniture has to go up or down stairs, or make a tight turn, be sure to write down the amount of space you have to work with. “Dimensions are the biggest thing,” says Kevin Krasney, owner of highly rated Cole’s Appliance & Furniture in Chicago. “It’s amazing how people order things that can’t fit into their house.”

Don’t be shy

True, every customer is different and you may only be browsing, but don’t neglect the sales consultant’s expertise should you have concerns or need guidance. He or she should be able to answer any questions and help you find exactly the right piece of furniture for your needs.

“We’re educated on the quality and construction of things,” says Wendy Scott, a sales consultant at highly rated Kittle’s Furniture in Indianapolis, who explains that stores tend to have a variety of price points based on quality. “When we try to sell you something that’s a bit more expensive, we’re not trying to cheat you. We’re trying to take into consideration what you need it for. If you want your couch to last 10 years, I’m not going to sell you the cheapest couch on the floor.”

Keep in mind as you shop

Take photographs: It will help you remember what you liked as you browse from store to store.

Think local: Don’t overlook your neighborhood furniture store. They may not be as glitzy as the giant superstores, but some offer top-notch customer service and deals.

Negotiate: Why not? It never hurts to ask, “Is that the best you can do?” You may end up with free delivery or fabric guard.

Follow your instincts: Is the store clean? Is the staff professional? Do you feel comfortable? Learn all you can about the product, because you get what you pay for. “If the price is too good to be true, it usually is,” Hellebuyck says.

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