2 Questions You Should Ask As You Shop For Furniture

As soon as you step foot inside of the best furniture stores, it can be easy to become sidetracked. In addition to perusing aisles filled with elegant home furnishings, you might also enjoy relaxing music, complimentary beverages, and scented rooms. However, you shouldn't let the serenity of your favorite furniture showroom distract you from more important issues. Here are two questions you should ask as you shop for furniture, and how the answers could help you to zero-in on great pieces:

1: "Where was this made?"

When you are staring at an intricately carved entertainment center or sitting in a comfortable recliner, it can be hard to care where a piece was crafted. However, buying locally made furniture might make your ownership experience a little easier in the long run. Here are a few reasons you should always ask where furniture items are made, and why you should try to find locally crafted pieces:

  • Repair Turnaround Time: If those brand new dining chairs crack or the fabric on your sofa set starts to pill, how long will it take to get the items repaired? If your furniture was made overseas, the furniture store might have to place a repair ticket and wait for a shipment from a foreign manufacturer. Unfortunately, if issues arise that affect international shipping, such as the recent longshoreman's strike, it might significantly delay your simple repairs.    
  • Accountability: One huge benefit of buying locally made furniture is that you can hold the business more accountable. If you have questions about your bill, the manufacturing process, or product care, you might have easier access to the company. Also, locally owned and operated companies might be subject to stricter safety regulations, so that you don't lose sleep over potentially hazardous products.
  • Support for Local Businesses: By investing in domestically made furniture, you are also supporting local businesses that are bound by fair employment practices. In addition to keeping jobs close to home, you might also be protecting basic human rights.

If you can't find locally made furniture pieces, consider writing your furniture store a letter. By expressing interest in domestic products, you might be able to learn where you can find great pieces, while prompting the store to carry merchandise that would interest you in the future.

2: "What is this piece made out of?"

Those chairs look pretty similar, so why would you pay more for solid oak construction? Although you might be tempted to think more about the price than you do about the construction materials, that fabric, metal, or wood choice can have a significant impact later. Here are three things you should look for as you analyze different pieces:

  • Hardwood Vs. Softwood: Pay attention to the type of wood that each furniture piece is made from. Look for hardwoods like Birch, Maple, or Walnut instead of softwoods like Pine or Fir. Hardwoods are stronger and less susceptible to warping, since they grow slower and have a lower moisture content.
  • Leather Types: If you are looking for pure, unadulterated leather, choose top-grain leather over the bonded stuff. Bonded leather is made from scraps of leather embedded in a vinyl compound, while top grain leather is composed of real, solid sheets of animal skin.
  • Hardware Materials: Don't forget to check hardware such as hinges, drawer pulls, and latches. Look for signs of early damage such as stripped screws, bent metal, or chipped edges. If the hardware can't hold up in the store, it doesn't stand a chance against your children.

If your salesperson doesn't know the answers to your questions, ask them to show you a brochure created by the furniture manufacturers. This documentation might help you to collect vital product information, so that you understand what you are really buying.

Knowing what to ask your furniture salesperson might help you to drive home with beautiful furnishings and avoid future frustrations.     

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