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Living Space: Unexpected sources of furniture bargains

By Victoria Advocate
March 17, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 16, 2011 at 10:17 p.m.

Buying quality furniture can take a bite out of your budget. But bargains can be found in membership auction sites to pop up stores.

By Kathryn Weber

When it comes to furniture, there's a distinct difference between cheap and inexpensive.

Inexpensive furniture tends to fall apart and not look as good as more expensive furniture.

But buying quality furniture can take a bite out of your budget.

So, how can you buy the furniture you need and get a good value on both price and quality? With some savvy shopping, you can pick up some bargains in unexpected ways.

LESS THAN PERFECT

If small nicks or minor imperfections don't bother you, or you're willing to repair the item, incredible furniture deals are there for less-than-perfect pieces.

Many furniture stores have scratch-and-dent areas at the back of the store where damaged furniture is kept - and sold for a fraction of the original cost.

These same furniture stores may also have regional outlets. If there's a national furniture store you especially like, a quick search on the web could help you locate an outlet store.

These outlet locations typically carry a variety of furniture, from items with major damage to items that are in perfect condition, but were returned because a customer decided not to go through on the purchase.

Nowadays, furniture companies are also starting pop-up stores. These stores pop up for a couple of months and then close once all the returned, damaged or sample pieces are gone.

Many have greatly discounted prices, but you have to act fast when you see one pop up.

PRELOVED OPTIONS

Another source for quality furniture at steeply discounted prices is to buy on consignment. A browse of your local consignment store is worth the time because of the terrific quality-to-price ratios.

An unexpected source of furniture? Your local Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. Charitable organizations often pick up and resell household goods and many furniture companies will often donate odd, damaged or unwanted pieces to them. A good example is Habitat for Humanity's Restore Outlets (www.habitat.org/restores/default.aspx) that carry furniture from homeowners and furniture stores alike.

Because Americans are always on the move, rental furniture companies, such as Cort (cort.com), offer steep discounts on pre-rented furniture and frequently have rental return outlets.

Some office furniture companies also carry used office furniture that ranges from desks to furnishings, such as chairs, sofas and tables. If you're looking for home office furniture, you can often buy a better quality used piece than office furniture from an office supply or regular furniture store.

HOP ONLINE

There are a variety of sources for buying furniture online ranging from Ebay to Craigslist to high-end auctions that require membership, also known as your e-mail address. When buying furniture online, always look for good descriptions that include dimensions and clear photographs.

On Ebay, you can narrow down your search to your locale if you want to see what's available in your area, or you can choose to have an item shipped from anywhere in the country.

Other web sources gaining in popularity are timed auction membership sites, such as One Kings Lane (onekingslane.com) and Gilt Group's Home (www.gilt.com/sale/home). Both offer some good savings on high-end home furnishings and accessories, but you may have to withstand a barrage of daily e-mails that come with membership. However, you could cherry-pick that one special piece at a terrific price.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui E-zine. For more information, contact Weber through her website, www.redlotusletter.com.

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