Monday, June 18, 2012

Furniture Shopping the Modern Way?

by Kate Collins



Have you ever shopped for furniture on line? I hadn’t until recently and then I spent hours –make that days -- doing so.  And it wasn’t even my idea. I’d gone to my local furniture store looking for a piece for the new house but didn’t see anything I liked on the floor. My sales person recommended I go to their website and click on catalogs, then I could browse to my heart’s content.

I was amazed by the sheer number of catalogs from which to choose. The problem was that they weren’t labeled as to what style of furniture they carried, so I had to go through them one by one to find those that carried what I was looking for. And what I was looking for was not easy to find. In case you’re curious, it’s a china cabinet. Young people don’t want them because most don’t buy china and crystal anymore. But I digress.

The problem with shopping from catalogs is that the images are no bigger than my fist and in most cases smaller. How was I to see details? My ability to enlarge them only went so far. How was I to order something virtually sight unseen? What if I hated the wood color?

So I trekked back to the furniture store and looked through the actual catalogs there. In many cases, my sales person had wood samples, or had something on the floor in the same color, which made it easier to envision.  I’m still not sold on buying sight unseen, but I feel better looking at an 8” x 10” color photo with an actual wood sample than ordering on line.

My best friend ordered nearly a third of her furniture from Pottery Barn without seeing anything but a picture, and in all but one case, loves it. So maybe I’m alone in my feeling that I hope this is not the wave of the future. I’d hate to lose furniture stores the way we’re losing bookstores.

How about you? Have you taken a chance and ordered a piece of furniture on line? Did you like the actual product? Is this indeed the future?