Thursday, January 05, 2006

Bridget A. Otto on Furniture Folly

Jan 5, 2006

Bridget A. Otto has an article in The Oregonian of Thursday Jan. 5th, about buying furniture,

Furniture folly
Don't sit down on a costly mistake

Jennifer Litwin's frustration drove her to write a book.

Even though Litwin is an antiques expert who trained at Sotheby's and reports on furniture for Consumers Digest, the Chicago-based author discovered the pitfalls of furniture shopping while trying to furnish her own home.

If she was frustrated, she thought, what must the average consumer experience?

One salesperson would say one thing about a sofa, and another would say something else. Litwin says she began to wonder who was being honest about the furniture.

The $75 billion-dollar-a-year industry is virtually unregulated, Litwin says. No one governs anything, leaving the consumer to be her own best advocate and driving Litwin to write "Best Furniture Buying Tips Ever!" (Random House, 2005, $14.95).

Litwin, who has been involved in antiques and reporting on furniture for about 12 years, says that unless you spend every day shopping and comparing, it's hard to evaluate the quality of furniture.

So, consumer, arm thyself.

Litwin recommends doing some comparison shopping online before walking into stores. The Internet is a good tool for learning about styles and checking prices and sales, she says.

Once in the store, ask what materials have gone into the piece, Litwin says, and get the salesperson to put it in writing. And speaking of writing, get a written warranty -- from either the manufacturer or the store. Warranties can run the gamut, so be sure you understand what is covered and how the warranty would work.

Litwin says consumers can't afford to be shy. If you are buying a piece that will require some assembly, ask how many pieces are involved and whether the store offers free assembly -- it can save you hours of frustration.

"Ready to assemble means not ready to use," she says. Litwin spent $75 on a desk for her son, and -- after finding that assembly involved 30 pieces and dozens of nuts and bolts -- she paid someone $200 to put it together.

Even the experts make mistakes sometimes.

Beverly Landfair, co-owner with her husband, Mike, of Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery on Southwest Macadam Avenue, advises buyers to assess how the furniture will be used.

[for the rest of this article, please click the link to

Furniture folly
Don't sit down on a costly mistake

Bridget A. Otto: 503-221-8527; wrote this article. It will be archived for two weeks only!

Bev & Mike
Landfair Furniture + Design Gallery

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