A new couch or dining room set could look fabulous in your home, and you have the money in the budget to buy one.
So why does it feel overwhelming and even like a chore to head to the local furniture store to check out the options available?
It could be the pushy salespeople or the fact that it’s such a big decision. But once you know how furniture stores operate, you can avoid wasting money when you finally decide to go.
Here are some secrets furniture stores may not be telling you that you need to know.
Head to the back of the store for the deals
Furniture stores are counting on you falling in love with the sometimes-overpriced items at the front of the store. These are likely to be the more stylish, higher-end, or simply higher-priced items.
To save money instead, look straight ahead and walk to the back of the store. That's where you’re likely to find some of the best sales and discounted pieces.
You may also find floor models for sale or items that have been around for more than a year.
Ask about open-box items
Open-box pieces of furniture are those that were returned by other customers or that are otherwise not brand new.
They’re often in great condition but perhaps didn’t fit the living room of the person who bought them. This is especially true for smaller pieces like bookshelves, end tables, and lamps.
These items may not always be on display, though, so ask about them if you want the best savings on furniture.
Say no to extras
Whether it’s a furniture protection plan or an extended warranty, think twice before paying more for the furniture you buy.
Even if the sales professional is encouraging — perhaps even providing you with examples of how they work — and extended warranty can be an expensive and unnecessary addition.
Some retailers even require their staff to push these add-ons even if they’re not beneficial to you.
Ask for the best offer price
Here’s a simple secret to saving significantly on furniture: Just ask for a better price.
Some furniture stores input pricing information into their computers so salespeople know how low they can go on a certain item. Often, that’s not what’s on the sales ticket you see.
It takes just a few seconds to ask about a better price, and chances are good they’ll give it to you rather than lose the sale.
Don’t settle for poor quality
Furniture stores consistently struggle to balance affordability and profits, especially in downturns when consumers don’t have a lot of spending money.
One way to reduce costs and boost their profit margin is to have furniture made inexpensively. So don’t assume that a big price tag equals a high-quality product.
Pull out the drawers and flip them over. Are they made with real wood or particleboard? Take a look at the backside of the headboard. How are the components attached? Look at the back of the couches to see the quality of the fabric up close.
Find and use coupons
Discounts you find online through savings apps don’t always transfer to in-store purchases.
For example, you may find a discount or rebate through Rakuten online, but those same savings won’t apply to your in-store purchase.
Go to the furniture store, check out the pieces you love, and then find coupons or other discounts online. You could save more just by buying from your phone in the parking lot.
Get a realistic delivery estimate
Most furniture stores don’t own a factory that produces furniture — or at least not all of the items on the showroom floor.
If you’re interested in something that’s out-of-stock, don’t assume it’s going to be available anytime soon, especially if it's coming from the factory (which is likely an oversea manufacturer).
Also, if it says the item is in stock online, that doesn’t mean it’s available for pickup at the local store. Often, these are errors, especially in organizations where theft is a big concern.
Make the most of an associate’s time without wasting it
Most furniture associates have a sales target to meet. They also get paid over and above this through commission. But, if they don’t meet the sales figures expected, they could lose their job.
If you spend a few hours talking to a sales member, they answer all of your questions, and you’re sold on the purchase but then leave empty-handed, they’ve lost those earnings.
Be upfront about your true purchase goals and make sure that the sales associate who helped you gets credit for your purchase if you come back later when they’re not there.
Ask for a senior discount
You may not want to admit you qualify for one, but a senior discount — usually for those over the age of 55 — could help you save significantly.
In some cases, that could be a 10% to 20% savings. Not all furniture stores offer it, but it’s certainly worth asking if one is available.
Don’t buy based on celebrity endorsements
If you see ads on TV or in your favorite interior design magazine that a certain designer or celebrity remodeler is recommending a product, don’t assume that’s the case.
Often, these types of promotional sales and products don’t have any design influence from these stars — unless it’s truly their brand and marketed as such on the sales floor.
Chances are good that you won’t see those celebrity names once you arrive at the store either.
Consider the environment
Though many furniture stores say they’re going green or may have implemented policies to reduce their carbon footprint, that’s not often the reality.
In fact, they're actually some of the worst violators when it comes to environmental protection — especially if their products are manufactured overseas where rules are lax.
If you want to do your part to help the environment and need some new furniture, head to an estate sale, turn to online marketplaces where people are selling their items, or find a thrift store that sells pieces.
Often, older pieces are of fantastic quality and are made from quality materials.
Furniture stores have secrets that allow them to stay in business. They’re profit-focused, like most retailers, and your sale means a lot to them.
Ask for discounts, find out what the best price is, and shop online and in person until you’re confident you’re purchasing furniture that fits your needs and helps you avoid wasting money.
It may be easier than you think.