01Zero in on What You Want
Visit a few furniture stores to see what's available. Use your visit to familiarize yourself with the various makers and the level of quality that you can expect from each. Determine which features are important to you, and how much the pieces you like typically go for. Ask as many questions as you need to become an informed shopper. Then, start building a short list of contenders. Don't worry if your favorites exceed your budget. There are plenty of ways to get the price down.
See the perfect piece? Don't pull the trigger just yet. Instead, jot down the manufacturer, name of the piece, fabric color, and model number, so you'll have everything you need to shop around for a better price. When I bought my last sofa set, I found two stores in my area that sold the same set. One had the sofa for $100 less. The other had the love seat for $100 less. So, I bought one piece from each store for an easy $200 savings.
Do a quick web search, and you may turn up an even better deal. It can be nerve-wracking to buy furniture online, sight unseen. But if you shop in store first, you'll know just what you're getting.
Get your furniture straight from the manufacturer, so you pay wholesale prices, instead of retail prices. High Point and Hickory, North Carolina are big centers for furniture production, so you'll find the highest concentration of factory outlet stores in those areas. Plan a trip to shop in person, or shop online, and have your furniture shipped to you. The prices are often better than what you'd pay locally, even after you factor in shipping costs. If you have a particular manufacturer in mind, do a search for the manufacturer's name, plus "outlet." Example: "Broyhill furniture outlet."
Here are some outlet directories to get you started on your search:
In love with furniture from a particular catalog company? They probably have outlet stores throughout the United States. Check their website for a list of outlet locations. Then, visit the one closest to you.
03Take Advantage of Overstock
The furniture you see in store is just a fraction of the store's overall inventory. You can bet they also have a warehouse (or several warehouses) in the area. Ask a salesperson if they ever have warehouse sales. Many furniture stores open their warehouses to customers several times a year to sell off overstock, floor samples, returns and scratched and dented items, and it's a great way to snag a fat discount. The salesperson should be able to turn you on to the dates of the next warehouse sale, or at the very least, point you towards the discount section in the store. Don't be afraid to let people know you're looking for a deal. They won't know you're on a budget, unless you tell them.
Shopping in a store like Pottery Barn? Ask one of the employees if they ever do a stockroom sale. It's common for catalog stores to unload floor samples and catalog returns this way. My local store does this about once every quarter. Since I'm on their e-mail list, I get an invitation each time. You have to be prepared to haul your purchases home right away, but if you save enough, it's definitely worth the effort.
04Time Your Purchase Just Right
The people working in a furniture store often work off of commission, or at the very least have sales quotas to meet. This means, if you catch them at the end of the month or the end of a quarter, they'll be much more likely to help you out with the price, or to sweeten the deal with a freebie. Start by asking for a better price, and if they say there's nothing they can do, see if they'd be willing to throw in free delivery or to cover the sales tax. Even free pillows with a new bed can be a nice extra that ultimately saves you money.
Another good bet is to shop on a holiday weekend. Stores know you're likely to be off work, so they run sales to entice you to shop.
If you aren't in a hurry, wait until January or July to shop. The latest furniture styles hit the showroom floor in February and August, so there's major pressure to move out last year's stuff — even if it means slashing the prices drastically.
05Get Sales Alerts
If you find something you really want, but it's out of your price range, leave your contact information with the salesperson, and ask them to call you when it goes on sale. With a commission on the line, they're likely to follow up. Let them know how much you're willing to pay, and you may even get a call saying their boss decided to accept your offer. It doesn't hurt to give people a second chance to say yes.
Save the items you're interested in buying to an app, like Shoptagr, so you get a notification when they go on sale. This will save you from having to constantly check back, and from having to clog up your inbox with a bunch of store newsletters.
06Shop With a Discounted Gift Card
Figure out how much your purchase is going to cost with tax and shipping. Then, buy a discounted gift card to cover the cost. If you use a gift card aggregator, like GiftCardGranny, it's easy to find the best deal. Here are some cards that were available at the time of writing:
- Ashley Furniture - up to 30 percent off
- Pier 1 Imports - up to 21.17 percent off
- Home Goods - up to 18 percent off
- TJ Maxx - up to 18.65 percent off
- Overstock - up to 8.63 percent off
- Crate & Barrel - up to 8.64 percent off
Discount amounts are directly tied to demand and card availability, so these numbers are likely to change. Pair a discounted gift card with a store sale to save even more.
On a tight budget, or not especially eager to hand over a bunch of cash? Then, consider shopping second-hand. Thrift stores, yard sales, consignment stores, estate sales, flea markets and Craigslist can all be excellent sources for furniture deals, and there's usually plenty of room to negotiate the price. This method may require a bit more patience to find what you're after, but the savings will more than make-up for it. If you're after quality, look for older pieces made of solid wood. A quick paint or upholstery job could turn your find into a treasure.
08Accept Cast Offs
Anyone with a basement, attic, garage or outbuilding probably has furniture that they'd like to get rid of. Let people know what you're looking for, and you may be surprised at all the offers that roll in.
Live in a town with large trash pick up? Curb shopping could be the answer. Just drive around, and see if you spot what you need in a curb pile. While I don't recommend picking up upholstered pieces, curb shopping is a great way to find tables, chairs, shelves, desks and other wooden pieces. And you can't beat the price. I've found countless antiques this way, and without fail, it's my curb finds that get the most compliments when someone stops by the house.
Want to get the best deal on everything you buy? Check out:
How to Save Money on Furniture
In the market for new furniture? Here's how to get exactly what you want for far less than you're expecting to pay.