Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking for the Holy Grail Would be Easier

Than looking for decent used furniture, that is. With both daughters moving into their first apartments and furnishing them by themselves on limited budgets, we have looked at a lot of furniture.

There are several ways of finding used furniture, just as there are for used cars, and it is priced in the same type levels, retail value (consignment stores), private party value (craig's list by owner), and wholesale (garage sale). We began with craig's list because it was easiest for us and from there, we got an idea of what the girls wanted and the price range for it. Then we made appointments to see the furniture and stopped by a few consignment stores and garage sales too. By and large, the consignment stores were three times the price of the furniture for sale by owner, and garage sales in our area had mainly stuff that didn't sell on craig's list. So we concentrated on craig's list, with Lil surfing in her spare time and emailing links every night for us to check out.

I've seen more junky furniture in the last two weeks than I thought could possibly be in existence. And what is worse, people either don't know their stuff is junk or they are worse than used car salesmen in overstating it's worth.

Last week when Lil was home for Easter Break, we spent nearly every minute of the weekend looking for furniture and it seemed like everything good was in the northern suburbs of the metroplex. We spent a couple of days looking at "like new" furniture that was worn, filthy, or had rips in the cushions. There was one set of new, oak dining chairs. It was new, but it wasn't oak, but some kind of pine and resin with a faux wood design.

On Sunday afternoon, the four of us went together to check out some living room furniture that Lil declared was exactly what she wanted. And of course, it was 70 miles north of us. Lil asked all the usual questions about smoking, pets (she has severe allergies), brand, age, additional pictures, and made an appointment to see it. We were supposed to call when we got to town for directions. (Can you see where this is going?) So we got to town, called, and no answer. We went to a fast food place to eat and afterward called again. Nothing.

So Lil looked up another set that was 45 miles west of that town, called, and made an appointment. It was great furniture, probably better than the first, and cheaper. She bought it and we drove home. Great family day together, huh? Now both girls had living room upholstered furniture and it was on to bedroom furniture. Brownie already had a dresser and night stand, so all she needed was a headboard and frame. Lil needed everything and spent the evening looking up stuff for us to check out after she went back to school.

The next day, Brownie and I looked at two bedroom suits, the furthest was 62 miles away and the other 28 miles east of it, so we made a big ol' circle and it stole 5 hours out of our day. The first one was an pine set with a pickled finish. Remember the pickling that was so popular about 15 years ago? We talked to the owner on the phone, asked for additional pictures and knew that the nightstand top has some water marks from wet glasses. But when we got there, not only did it have extensive water damage on the nightstand top, but a ring on the dresser, and it looked like all of it had been in a flooded room with a faded discoloration along all the bottoms. One piece had a corner that looked like it had been chewed by a dog, a kid had carved initials in the headboard, and the drawers were all hard to open. And it was supposed to be in excellent condition. The next one was cheap furniture with cherry finish and she swore up & down that it was cherry wood.

That's it, stick me with a fork, I'm done.

Marti

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