Serious shoppers reveal how and why they buy
Jerry Epperson -- Furniture Today, October 30, 2012
It was a dark and stormy night, and after running an errand, I stopped under the covered walkway beside a large well-known, popular priced furniture store. Rather than get my hairdo wet in the heavy rain, I waited and spoke with six couples and their four assorted youngsters.
All agreed that furniture was less expensive than they had expected, and that the credit programs were attractive. In contrast, they were somewhat concerned how expensive mattresses had gotten, and the sales personnel discouraged them from buying innerspring units. Is anyone surprised? One couple had decided since the bedroom furniture was cheaper, the store made it up on more expensive mattresses.
Each couple liked the salespersons and found them helpful and mostly knowledgeable at the various stores visited. All visited at least three stores, and one couple visited six. Each had a shopping list and were not just looking, and most had an idea of what they wanted to spend. Asked if they looked for furniture when they did not need something, all said "no." Nuts.
One expressed shock at the high prices at a national high-profile full-line store, but understood when I explained they offered more customized, made-to-order furnishings.
One couple with a very young, unhappy little boy was looking for a bedroom set the young man could grow up with, thanks to funding from grandparents. I asked where they had shopped, and asked why they had not gone to three other stores with excellent kids' displays. They said they had not seen them advertise kids' furniture.
Each was shopping because of an event that caused the purchase, like moving to Richmond, a bonus, a larger apartment, or a small inheritance. All had waited for a major holiday to shop "when all the ads run."
I was disturbed by several of these statements but not surprised, and I saw several valuable lessons.
They all liked having a large assortment from which to choose, but one young lady said that every store she shopped had the same styles and almost everything was dark wood, dark leather or dark fabrics. The others agreed, and were expecting a lot more difference from store to store.
As someone who enjoys wandering through furniture stores, I see their point.
As we all know, the showrooms in High Point and Las Vegas are not open to everyone in the trade. Most of the vendors only see their furniture at markets plus some from non-competing sources. We live in a time when five stores can all buy from different sources, and end up with essentially identical furnishings. See a problem?
How are you different?
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