A tale of two tables, part one: Driving a hard(wood) bargain

I’ve always been very uh… thrifty (it sounds slightly better than “cheap”).  However, in the dark days before Craigslist (otherwise known as the BCL era), a girl didn’t have a lot of options.  Or maybe you know all about Craigslist, but you don’t want to risk driving 45 minutes to find out the seller already sold the item you were trying to buy.  It’s happened to us all.

So when it came time to buy a dining set, I was determined to get a great set I’d be happy with that wouldn’t break the bank.  So, I did what any reasonable person would do – I went to a furniture store.  I was immediately struck with two thoughts. One, good Lord, 99% of this furniture is hideous. Two, WHY is this hideous furniture so expensive?? Thinking it might just be that one store, I went to another store. And another. And several more after that.  It didn’t help.  I was annoyed with the mostly ugly, mostly ridiculously overpriced furniture.

Ooh, I'll take the one with the floral dust ruffle.

Ooh, I’ll take the one with the floral dust ruffle.

But I did notice something interesting: many stores were carrying the same furniture sets. They were just ordering it all from a few furniture manufacturers.  I mean, it makes sense.  It’s not like furniture shop owners have a wood working studio in the back parking lot.

Armed with my new information, I found the dining set I loved, and promptly asked the person on the sales floor what company made it.  He told me the name, and I asked if there was a model number associated with it.  Bingo, now I’ve got a name and a number.  This is where I get a little crazy.

I proceeded to call every furniture store in town.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Me: “Hi, do you carry XYZ brand furniture?”

Store owner: “Uh… yes, we do.”

Me: “Great.  I’ve got cash in hand, and I’m buying model number 123 this weekend.  All I’m doing now is shopping price.  If you give me the best price, I’ll come in your store and buy it today. So, what do you charge for that dining set?”

Beleaguered store owner: “…Ah… okay, um, let me see what I can do.”

People were amazingly receptive.

Within a few hours, I made a deal with an owner who offered me the set for $800 less than the original price I had seen in the store!

And so, I was actually able to afford a decent dining set that served us well for years to come.


Lesson learned: if you’re shopping at a traditional furniture store, doing your research and a little bargaining will pay off.

Stay tuned for part two, in which my beloved table betrays me.  *dun dun DUN*

Because life is too short to pay full retail,


3 thoughts on “A tale of two tables, part one: Driving a hard(wood) bargain

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