Comparison Shopping is Important!

In my line of work, it's important to stay up to date with what's selling and what it's selling for.  My research requires me to visit many sales venues, from discount and high end furniture stores to consignment shops and auction houses.  I'll admit it,  I'm the person you see wandering locations taking notes and photos with my phone, all in the interest of making sure I'm "in the know" when it comes to "fair market value".

What strikes me most is the vast difference in quality of furniture available in the market today.  The next time you're in a furniture store, take a look, (a real look), at the construction of the piece.  You might be amazed to find what is considered "solid" wood.  Look at how the piece is jointed.  Look at the backing–(I recently found plastic backing on cabinets in a "high end" furniture store!).  Where is the product manufactured and what is the warranty?

Before you buy, know what you're buying!  "Bonded Leather" sounds really important, right?  Wikipedia defines Bonded leather as follows:

"Bonded leather or reconstituted leather is a material made of varying degrees of genuine leather combined with other substances to give the appearance of leather at reduced cost. Bonded leather can be found in furniture, bookbinding, and various fashion accessories. Examples of products that are most commonly constructed with different varieties of "bonded leather" are: books, diaries, art books, desk accessories, bags, belts, chairs, and sofas.

There are different types of bonded leather, but the type being used on upholstered furniture today is a polyurethane or vinyl product, backed with fabric and then a layer of latex or other material mixed with a small percentage of leather fibers in the product's backing material. The actual leather content of bonded leather varies from manufacturer and the quality they are presenting. The polyurethane surface is stamped to give it a leather-like texture. In the home furnishings industry there is much debate[1] and controversy over the ethics of using the term "bonded leather" to describe a vinyl upholstery product."

Now, before you buy, step away from the fancy lighting and the glitz of the chain store.  Take your photos and notes, and do the same thing I do–shop!  Visit your local consignment shop, auction house, (or maybe one of my Estate Sales!), and compare the chain store offering to what you can find "gently used".  You might be pleasantly surprised to find that you can furnish your room at less than half the price of that glitzy chain store!  And, you may actually find real "solid" wood and real "leather"!