Date:         Fri, 7 Jul 2000 01:12:30 -0500
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen

From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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              TOURBUS Volume 5, Number 107 -- 6 July 2000
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    Furniture Shopping on the Web
    Yep.  We've got addresses.
Howdy, y'all, and greetings from the windy city of Chicago, Illinois!
I want to thank the folks at WGN Radio in Chicago, and especially
everyone at the Steve and Johnnie show, for letting me hang out in the
studios this week (hi, Neesy!).  :)
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On with the show ...
Furniture Shopping on the Web
Back on 19 May 2000, I mentioned that
      I really want to write a TOURBUS post about how you can buy
      furniture on the Web, but I have absolutely no idea where to
      begin.   Can you recommend any Web sites that sell high quality
      furniture -- Henredon, Hooker, Henkel Harris, and so on -- at
      wholesale prices?
Well, thanks to the help of the squillions upon squillions of TOURBUS
riders (35), I am now ready to write that post.
That's the good news.  The bad news is that, from what I have seen
after six weeks of research, furniture shopping on the Web just ain't
ready for prime time.  Here's why:
         walk into a real-world furniture store, you can closely
         examine every piece of furniture.  Furniture stores let you
         "kick the tires," so to speak, letting you see which furniture
         is good and which is garbage.
         You can't do that online.
         This is kind of complicated, but almost every picture on the
         Web is, by design, stored at an extremely low resolution (72
         pixels per inch).  That's why the pictures you print from the
         Web look so bad: they're REALLY low quality (by way of
         comparison, a bottom-end printer prints at about 300 pixels
         per inch).  At 72 pixels per inch, it is hard to tell the
         difference between a picture of a $7,500 mahogany bed hand-
         carved in North Carolina and a $250 pressboard bed machine-
         stamped in Hong Kong.  Caveat emptor.
         You can bypass this low resolution limitation, however, if you
         know model number and manufacturer of a particular piece of
         furniture, but ...
         furniture stores I visited will give you a free price quote
         provided you know the furniture's model number and
         manufacturer.  Unfortunately, many furniture manufacturers
         don't want this information posted on the Web, and many online
         furniture stores don't provide it (I'll explain why in a
         minute).  Because of this, to find the model number and
         manufacturer of a particular piece furniture so that you can
         get a price quote from an online furniture store, you very
         well may have to visit a real-world furniture store first.
      3. SHIPPING CAN BE A PROBLEM.  This pretty much goes without
         saying.  When you purchase furniture from a real-world
         furniture store, that store acts as an intermediary, making
         sure that the furniture that is delivered and installed in
         your home is perfect.  In effect, the furniture store assumes
         the responsibility of giving you a good product.  That level
         of service is not always available from online furniture
         stores (although some online furniture stores offer excellent
         delivery and installation services ... for a price).
         recent e-commerce stock meltdown has effected the online
         furniture stores as well. recently slashed its
         workforce by 41 percent.  And many furniture manufacturers
         aren't too happy with the entire online furniture market.
         Online furniture stores are taking business away from real-
         world furniture stores who are the manufacturer's "bread and
         butter."  To keep the real-world stores happy, furniture
         manufacturers are starting to throw up roadblocks ranging from
         prohibiting online stores from posting the manufacturer's
         catalog on the Net all the way to instituting "minimum retail
         price" policies.
         A minimum retail price policy works like this.  The
         manufacturer sets a retail price for a particular piece of
         furniture (say $1,000) and a minimum retail price (say $600).
         Furniture stores both online and off are free to set their own
         price for the furniture, but if they sell that furniture for
         less than the minimum retail price, they lose the right to
         sell that manufacturer's furniture in the future.  Such a
         policy narrows the gap between the price you get from a real-
         world furniture store and from one online.
         Amazing furniture bargains are still available on the Net, but
         as more manufacturers enact minimum retail price policies,
         these bargains may stop being so ... well ... "amazing."  :)
My suggestion?  Go to a local furniture store, get the model number
and manufacturer of a piece of furniture you want, get a price quote
from one or two online furniture stores (including shipping), take
those quotes back to your local furniture store, and ask them to match
it.  That's what I did, and I saved several thousand dollars ... and I
kept my money in my local community.  :)
By the way, not everyone agrees with my assessment of the online
furniture industry.  Fellow TOURBUS rider Jeff Miller recently
      bought an elegant dining room table with chairs from
      We were most pleased with the service, timelines promised, and
      delivery.  It was delivered within the timeframe promised.  The
      delivery company actually brought it into the house and assembled
      the various pieces for us, and took the packing material away as
      We were unable to find a set anywhere around us that we really
      liked.  Using the web enabled us to save time, gas money, and
      frustrations of dealing with pushy sales people.
So, what are some of the best online furniture stores?  I was really
impressed with Lexington Furniture Company, one of the few stores that
provide pictures and model numbers for a couple high-quality furniture
manufacturers.  Their prices are pretty good, too (the prices aren't
posted on the Net, though -- you have to request a price quote by fax,
phone, or email).  You can find Lexington Furniture Company on the Web
at .
What other sites do our fellow TOURBUS riders recommend?  "Bill"
writes that
      An acquaintance of mine has opened a site called . He has been in the furniture
      business for years and sees this as he next step .
Jean R. Hutton says that
      You might want to check out the site.
      Huge selection, NC prices, they ship anywhere, etc., etc.
Crystal Heshmat recently visited on the recommendation of friends who had
      bought furniture there and are very happy with their purchases.
      KozyHome has a lot of really good stuff and I like the 3D
      galleries that let you look all around the room. There's also a
      nice discount for registering - 15% off all purchases for 30 days
      - and automatic entry in the monthly drawing for a $5000 shopping
Our international riders will appreciate this.  Steve Collins
      furnished my bedroom from they appear to have
      partnerships with many suppliers of a wide variety of items.
      Decent furniture and they beat out the local retail store by over
      $150 shipping & handling included, they appeared to be able to
      deliver to a variety of countries as well.
Pete Simpson writes about a site in the UK:
      Whilst not dedicated to furniture I have used the shopping site
      run by The Guardian newspaper
      as a good starting point many times.  Sure, it has a UK slant but
      is not restricted to that  e.g  links to New York MoMA site in
      the interiors section.
Phil Jones also plugs a site in the UK -- HIS!  :)
      We are the lowest priced furniture E-Tailer in the UK.
      Feel free to browse our catalogue, although it is going under
      major surgery at the moment !
Both Karen Maddry and Kathleen Mammoser recommend one of the sites I
actually used to obtain a price quote:  Rose Furniture Company - discount
      brand furniture from High Point, North Carolina.  This is a
      company I've bought from several times.  They can get anything
      and at a substantial discount.  They ship for free, as well.
If you are into furniture manufactured by Sauder, Bill Pugh recommends
Advanced Furniture Outfitters at .  If you are
looking for "design" furniture, Michael Penland recommends Design
Within Reach at .
Barbara Cooper shows what a great friend she is:
      Check out my friends Keith and Bernadette at Sarita furniture:
      This is a small business that offers really unique and classy
Ed Brindza recommends 40-6-% savings on 400+ top name home
      furnishing and decorating accessories for home and garden for the
      past 13 years  -  yes, prior to the Internet.  While the original
      program was established just for innkeepers - thus the name - Inn
      & Travel, the products are available to any member.
Molly Fiedler successfully and happily
      ordered my living room furniture on-line from
      It is really cool and high quality. The best part for me, an
      apartment dweller is that it is modular. It all comes apart. It
      doesn't feel like it. No one knows it comes apart unless I tell
      them. It comes with some serious hardware and requires assembly.
      It didn't take long. In about an hour I'd assembled a sofa, chair
      and ottoman with articulating tray. The articulating tray makes
      my livingroom useful for my laptop and a great place for popcorn
Tammy Chandler used out of North Carolina.  Our
      purchase was 1/3 of the retail cost and delivery, quality, etc.
      was tip top.  The actual website doesn't have that much as far as
      browsing, but if you know what you want (manufacturer, style #,
      etc.), you can either call or email them and they will give you
      their price.   I just shop around town to find what I like and
      call them for a much cheaper price.  So far, they have had
      everything I've inquired about.
I hope this gives you some ideas.  Happy furniture hunting!
That's it for this week.  Have a safe and happy weekend, and we'll
talk again next week.  :)
    Furniture Shopping on the Web
    Yep.  We've got addresses.
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