Author Topic: Quality furniture vs cost  (Read 7715 times)

Kitsune

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Quality furniture vs cost
« on: August 26, 2016, 12:50:40 PM »
What's your line for what's 'too expensive' for better quality? How do you make the decision?

My current dilemma: we need to replace our lay-z-boy before the birth of our next kid, for parental survival. We have one we used for our daughter and it was a lifesaver (rocking, comfortable to breastfeed in, comfortable to sleep in when you can't put the kid down in the middle of the night, etc). Unfortunately, it is also 32 years old (it was a present to my mother when she was pregant with me) and after 32 years, 4 babies, 4 toddlerhoods, 3 kids climbing all over it, 3 teenagers, living in every apartment I have and being my most-used chair... well, it's giving up. The seat is sagging enough to give me a back-ache, the cushioning on the back is gone, the fabric has rips in it again, the side is starting to come off... Oh, and the rocking mechanism squeaks like crazy. It's done. Getting it fixed would cost about 1/3 more than buying a new one. So. We've been looking for used ones for the past 4 months (the nicer ones have people trying to sell them for the cost of new 'clearance' couches, the other ones look not far off from the one we've got), and no one has another hand-me-down we can use. So, ok, fine, new... but on clearance, because $$$. (I strongly advise buying used furniture if that's an option. In this case, we can't find what we need, and we've been looking).

We need something that, in order: 1) rocks, 2) has a back that goes backwards and a leg rest that flips up so you can sleep on it if needed, 3) that doesn't look hideous and can be used outside the kid's room and moved to the living room as a reading chair after we're done having kids. I care and put effort into the aesthetics of our house, so 'not hideous' is a thing.

We've narrowed it down to 2 options.

Option 1) Very reputable brand (Elran - Quebec-specific, but known for excellent quality and longevity). Leather. (resistant, low-mainteanance, wipable/washable when the kid pukes on it, because breastfeeding and bottle-feeding = regurgitating on everything. Babies are gross). Looks kind of like a pottery barn club chair. Could absolutely be used in our living room. SUPER comfortable, I wanted to take a nap on it in store. 1199$CAD on sale. *EEEK*

Option 2:  Blue fabric, with a fuzzy weave (I'm having nightmares about milk chunks. BABIES ARE GROSS). Warranty against stains if we get the professional stain-proofing, which hopefully will help with most of the baby puke... maybe? Less sticky than leather, but also less wipable/cleanable/resistant. And probably needing to be re-covered after 10 years of family use, based on other couches having simliar fabric just wear down (so about 600$ to recover, based on the 3 people I asked for quotes on our current ones). Not a well-known brand, so no guarantee about the longevity. I like the colour, but I'm not sure I see it in regular use downstairs. Almost as comfy as Option 1, though. 700$ including the stain guard.

So, baseline: at what point is nicer/higher quality/likely more long-lasting/visually prettier worth more money? How much more money?

FrugalFan

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2016, 01:01:15 PM »
Do you *need* it to go to your living room after you are done using it with the baby? Could you buy the $700 one and sell it when you don't need it anymore in the baby's room?

Kitsune

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2016, 01:03:34 PM »
Do you *need* it to go to your living room after you are done using it with the baby? Could you buy the $700 one and sell it when you don't need it anymore in the baby's room?

Well, I 'need' a chair in my living room. I've been holding off on buying one until I see one I like for an affordable price. So sure, we could sell this one (assuming it's not overly damaged or puked on) but that'd still leave us buying another chair.

FrugalFan

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2016, 01:14:12 PM »
I see. I care about aesthetics too and there are very few lazy-boy type chairs I would like to see in my living room, so buying something comfy but temporary for the baby's room and then buying something I really like for my living room would make most sense to me. It's so hard to judge quality sometimes, and it doesn't always correlate with price. But if you really love the first chair and can see using it for a long time to come, it may be worth the price. You could always cover it with a quilt or throw blanket when it is in the baby's room to protect it.

MsPeacock

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2016, 08:26:59 AM »
If the last chair lasted 32 years I would assume that you want to get similar use out of the new one. Go for the best made chair with the host durable (leather) and mechanics.

SeaEhm

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2016, 08:40:21 AM »
Interesting that you care about aesthetics and seemed to have a pretty "junky" one for some time! Reward yourself with one that you truly love assuming you can "afford" it. 

I am the wrong person to ask on this forum as I feel that if the chair checks off that many boxes for you and you can afford it then purchase it.

Other people on here will try to get you to build one yourself out of clothing that has been passed down or thrown out using strategies taken from McGuyver's Guide to Frugality.

Think about the value that the chair would add to your life and then calculate whether it's worth it.

Spork

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2016, 08:49:11 AM »
Another possible alternative:

I've noticed that most new furniture is really of pretty awful quality.  (I'm not familiar with the brand in the OP, so I'm not trying to say it is necessarily bad -- just that in general we have been dissatisfied.)  Case in point: We have a 3 year old Laz-y-boy chair that is just absolutely falling apart.  A friend has a similar situation with another Laz-y-boy.

What we've started doing is buying old furniture from estate sales.  It is a little more work as you pretty much have to have good luck shopping around... but we've found that many 30-40 year old pieces of furniture in nice houses are MUCH nicer than new furniture.... and cost 1/2 the price.   

englishteacheralex

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2016, 09:52:34 AM »
Yeah, I second Spork. We haven't been able to find new furniture in our price range that isn't pretty crappy. You have to pay thousands of dollars to get solid wood. So our strategy with furniture is 100% used. Used recently made furniture doesn't last as long but at least you're paying a lot less. And used older stuff lasts forever.

I say that, but I live in a weird place (Hawaii) where the markup on furniture is even more horrendous than on the mainland due to shipping costs. And we have an enormous military population that moves all the time and often just sells off all the furniture they bought here rather than ship it. So craigslist is the only option that makes any sense financially for a frugal person.

Nords

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2016, 01:21:40 PM »
I say that, but I live in a weird place (Hawaii) where the markup on furniture is even more horrendous than on the mainland due to shipping costs. And we have an enormous military population that moves all the time and often just sells off all the furniture they bought here rather than ship it. So craigslist is the only option that makes any sense financially for a frugal person.
Another vote for Craigslist Oahu. 

We've upgraded all of our furniture and appliances through there.  (The only thing left is my bachelor recliner.)  We've even bought photovoltaic panels and a solar water heater from there.  And when our rental needs any appliances, that's the first place we look. 

It's amazing what appliances are put up for sale at 70% below retail with the sentence "One year old but no longer matches our renovation".

ender

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2016, 03:47:13 PM »
If you get a cheap chair that you can put in the kids room from Craigslist you can simply get rid of it (via CL again) instead of having to put it elsewhere in your house.

Pigeon

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2016, 04:01:55 PM »
I would probably bite the bullet and buy the good piece and keep it for decades.  I've tried buying inexpensive couches and they look and feel like crap in a ridiculously short time.  Then I spend years hating them every day before I get a new one.

Jut make sure you read a lot of reviews.  LazyBoy used to be reasonably decent furniture that lasted.  It's not now.  Motion furniture tends to have more problems than stationary.

I've bought used case goods at yard sales and CL with good results.  I've not really seen good quality upholstered furniture in good shape (without the fabric being stained or torn) in good shape.  And i have bed bug paranoia, so there's that.

KickingRocks

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2016, 07:25:33 PM »
When we furnished our new house last year we knew we wanted top of the line furniture that would last a life time.  The biggest problem is that even if you are willing to pay top dollar it doesn't mean you can find the products you are looking for.  For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business.  With that said we where able to find an American Company that specializes in leather furniture called Artistic Leather.  They are not cheap, but their quality and workmanship will blow you away.  When you sit on one of their pieces you know it's made to last several lifetimes.  When we custom ordered our set they assured me it would be the last couch/love seat I'd ever buy and my kids would enjoy it as I pass it down to them.  At first I thought this was typical salesman bs but after having it for over a year I have no doubt it will last 50 years easy.  Best $8,000 I ever spent. 

justchristine

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #12 on: August 28, 2016, 02:38:34 AM »
You could always buy the nice furniture you want and slipcover it until the kiddo grows out of the pulley stage

csprof

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2016, 05:43:15 AM »
If it were only for time with kid: we went with the glider chair option (with fully removable cushions). Much cheaper, very washable, looks like a rocking chair. But less living room compatible.  Worked very well for nursing / rocking / etc.

ender

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2016, 09:38:47 AM »
When we furnished our new house last year we knew we wanted top of the line furniture that would last a life time.  The biggest problem is that even if you are willing to pay top dollar it doesn't mean you can find the products you are looking for.  For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business.  With that said we where able to find an American Company that specializes in leather furniture called Artistic Leather.  They are not cheap, but their quality and workmanship will blow you away.  When you sit on one of their pieces you know it's made to last several lifetimes.  When we custom ordered our set they assured me it would be the last couch/love seat I'd ever buy and my kids would enjoy it as I pass it down to them.  At first I thought this was typical salesman bs but after having it for over a year I have no doubt it will last 50 years easy.  Best $8,000 I ever spent.

$8000 on a couch/loveseat?


Spork

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2016, 11:23:03 AM »
When we furnished our new house last year we knew we wanted top of the line furniture that would last a life time.  The biggest problem is that even if you are willing to pay top dollar it doesn't mean you can find the products you are looking for.  For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business.  With that said we where able to find an American Company that specializes in leather furniture called Artistic Leather.  They are not cheap, but their quality and workmanship will blow you away.  When you sit on one of their pieces you know it's made to last several lifetimes.  When we custom ordered our set they assured me it would be the last couch/love seat I'd ever buy and my kids would enjoy it as I pass it down to them.  At first I thought this was typical salesman bs but after having it for over a year I have no doubt it will last 50 years easy.  Best $8,000 I ever spent.

$8000 on a couch/loveseat?

Relax.  It probably has a V8 in it and does 0-60 in under 5 seconds.

icemodeled

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2016, 05:06:27 PM »
My parents each had a lay z boy recliner chairs that were 30 years old. It was time to replace them so they stuck with the same brand. Within the first few months the seams starting coming apart on the arm rest area and the chair was squeaking badly. They weren't happy of course and called the store. Brought it in and they refused to fix it for free due to some technical reason in the warranty. So they had to pay for it to be fixed(within 3 months of buying!). Would never get that brand again. We bought one at a discount furniture store(not used, just discounted) and it was a recliner. Paid $200 I think, big comfortable one. Has lasted a good time so far.

So really, I think it's tricky to find something that will be long lasting. Name brands do not automatically mean it'll last longer to me. When we moved into our new home 2 months ago we paid $1500 for our new sectional. It really does seem like higher quality, got it at a well known higher end furniture store, great reviews for their items. Hoping it'll last a long time.

The price you gave for the nicer option you like doesn't sound unreasonable to me if your very happy with it and it looks/feels good quality. Honestly though I do worry about leather furniture..
« Last Edit: August 28, 2016, 05:10:04 PM by icemodeled »

Kaikou

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2016, 05:22:04 PM »
Found a good lazy boy  @ Goodwill for $40

Kitsune

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2016, 08:01:34 AM »
To everyone who lists buying used: yeah, I wish. We've been looking. I'm envious of all your finds. We have our unique challenges (we're in the country, and going to an actual thrift store, or to most larger neighborhood garage sales, is a 50km drive). We've been looking for 4 months: the 1 store near here, Craigslist/kijii/facebook/any local garage sales. ZILCH that we're willing to buy. I think the highlight was an ad saying that the chair "had been treated for bed bugs last month, but no further issues" and listed it for 200$. NOPE. Seriously: nothing else that isn't close the store-clearance prices OR worst than the one we've got. Trust me, used was our first option, and we've been looking. Living where we are, it seems like wood antiques are easy to find and dirt cheap, but anything upholstered gets trashed or passed around before ever making it to Kijiji.

Also, we're in Quebec: all prices are CAD (yay exchange rates), duties raise the cost even more, shipping even MORE, and anything locally made gets made at higher wages... so our new furniture seems to cost more than what people seem to pay over the border. Much as I wish I could just waltz over and buy a clearance 200$ rocker, the actual cheapest I saw in ANY store was the 700$ one (on final clearance at a clearance store). That's the reality I'm working with.

I'm simultaneously strugling with sticker shock over the 'better' option (aka: I hate spending large amounts of money), and conviction that spending a decent chunk of change on something that doesn't actually suit our needs is wasting it (aka: I hate wasting money). It seems like there's no actual decent solution that isn't butting up against something crappy.

Honestly, we've been discussing this all weekend: we're selling 2 other pieces on Kijiji, which should offset some of the cost, and then we might get the nicer one UNLESS miraculously something decent pops up used. That really is our first choice.

ender

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2016, 08:23:47 AM »
So just buy new.

One of our "finds" was a loveseat about 100 miles away and a couch from the city to our south. It's still well worth it to us to pay for this.

Spork

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2016, 08:56:48 AM »
So just buy new.

One of our "finds" was a loveseat about 100 miles away and a couch from the city to our south. It's still well worth it to us to pay for this.

As to distance: I recently just finished settling my Dad's estate.  Talking to the estate sale owner... she says people drive 3-4 hours to shop her estate sales.  The first day, there is a line of 50+ people.  All of them have pre-shopped on the web and know exactly what they're headed for.

dcheesi

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2016, 11:04:35 AM »
I bought a lesser-brand recliner once. Felt apart in no time. Recliners have lots of moving parts, any one of which can fail and ruin the whole piece. If you're confident in the quality of the pricier brand, then it's probably worth the premium in this case.

ender

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2016, 11:11:39 AM »
So just buy new.

One of our "finds" was a loveseat about 100 miles away and a couch from the city to our south. It's still well worth it to us to pay for this.

As to distance: I recently just finished settling my Dad's estate.  Talking to the estate sale owner... she says people drive 3-4 hours to shop her estate sales.  The first day, there is a line of 50+ people.  All of them have pre-shopped on the web and know exactly what they're headed for.

Yeah. We have a pretty big area around us we watch, particularly for nicer things.


I'm not sure how far that region extends for the OP.

Kitsune

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2016, 11:49:30 AM »
So just buy new.

One of our "finds" was a loveseat about 100 miles away and a couch from the city to our south. It's still well worth it to us to pay for this.

As to distance: I recently just finished settling my Dad's estate.  Talking to the estate sale owner... she says people drive 3-4 hours to shop her estate sales.  The first day, there is a line of 50+ people.  All of them have pre-shopped on the web and know exactly what they're headed for.

Yeah. We have a pretty big area around us we watch, particularly for nicer things.


I'm not sure how far that region extends for the OP.

Easy access we can get to that we've been watching is about a 70km drive. Unfortunately, it's a semi-circle: we're right up against the border, and schlepping non-new furniture across the border is good for a few hours at customs, based on the last few times my in-laws did it. 

Beyond that distance, the truck we have access to isn't reliable, so we're looking at truck rentals, childcare (since the seat won't fit in the truck), etc - basically, the savings start evaporating via rentals and babysitting fees.

BDWW

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2016, 11:54:01 AM »
When we furnished our new house last year we knew we wanted top of the line furniture that would last a life time.  The biggest problem is that even if you are willing to pay top dollar it doesn't mean you can find the products you are looking for.  For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business.  With that said we where able to find an American Company that specializes in leather furniture called Artistic Leather.  They are not cheap, but their quality and workmanship will blow you away.  When you sit on one of their pieces you know it's made to last several lifetimes.  When we custom ordered our set they assured me it would be the last couch/love seat I'd ever buy and my kids would enjoy it as I pass it down to them.  At first I thought this was typical salesman bs but after having it for over a year I have no doubt it will last 50 years easy.  Best $8,000 I ever spent.

$8000 on a couch/loveseat?

See bolded section. For some reason consumers in this country (US) and Canada too, I assume, treat furniture prices as fixed. If you asked someone 25 years ago what a decent couch costs, they might reply $800-$1000. Ask someone today, and you'll likely get a similar answer, perhaps a bit higher. Somehow inflation doesn't seem to exist for some in this sphere. And unlike some other consumer goods (say electronics), furniture is very mature. There aren't many efficiencies to be gained. To add to that, the raw materials have probably outpaced inflation. Certainly hardwood resources have.

So, to get to the point, people's perspective on quality furniture costs, generally errs on the low to very-low side.
If you don't find this convincing, just re-read this very thread about everyone's experiences with modern furniture quality.

/soapbox

Now of course the mustachian option is to search for quality used furniture, it's just going to be hard to find within the recent quality-starved wares.


Kitsune

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2016, 02:02:05 PM »
When we furnished our new house last year we knew we wanted top of the line furniture that would last a life time.  The biggest problem is that even if you are willing to pay top dollar it doesn't mean you can find the products you are looking for.  For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business.  With that said we where able to find an American Company that specializes in leather furniture called Artistic Leather.  They are not cheap, but their quality and workmanship will blow you away.  When you sit on one of their pieces you know it's made to last several lifetimes.  When we custom ordered our set they assured me it would be the last couch/love seat I'd ever buy and my kids would enjoy it as I pass it down to them.  At first I thought this was typical salesman bs but after having it for over a year I have no doubt it will last 50 years easy.  Best $8,000 I ever spent.

$8000 on a couch/loveseat?

See bolded section. For some reason consumers in this country (US) and Canada too, I assume, treat furniture prices as fixed. If you asked someone 25 years ago what a decent couch costs, they might reply $800-$1000. Ask someone today, and you'll likely get a similar answer, perhaps a bit higher. Somehow inflation doesn't seem to exist for some in this sphere. And unlike some other consumer goods (say electronics), furniture is very mature. There aren't many efficiencies to be gained. To add to that, the raw materials have probably outpaced inflation. Certainly hardwood resources have.

So, to get to the point, people's perspective on quality furniture costs, generally errs on the low to very-low side.
If you don't find this convincing, just re-read this very thread about everyone's experiences with modern furniture quality.

/soapbox

Now of course the mustachian option is to search for quality used furniture, it's just going to be hard to find within the recent quality-starved wares.

Oh I'm right there with you - my grandparents bought leather couches 40 years ago. They're in the family room (so used every day, with multiple kids jumping all over them for YEARS) and still look good as new. The cushions are still stuffed, the leather has a nice patina, the frame isn't even the slightest bit shaky... perfect. Now find me a store now that does furniture that will still look new after 40 years of heavy use. *sigh*

Emily Henderson (a designer I really appreciate) did a blog post a while back about the cost of custom-made furniture using a daybed: https://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/custom-daybed-story

Worth reading for context. Note that that daybed is NOT my style, but if you break down the cost of materials, and the time of an artisan who wants to be making a living wage, well... it's not affordable, but it's not as obscene as it sounds.

(I have similar issues with our deflated clothing and food costs. Clothing does/should cost more than a new tshirt for 5$, and food is more expensive to produce than what we usually pay in store. Yay subsidies, off-shore production with crap pay and conditions, etc. Similar issues for furniture.)

ender

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2016, 11:54:50 AM »
Amusingly, we saw a $4k (but previously purchased at $10k) couch on Craigslist recently.

We bought a $115 one instead... I figure if I can buy 30 couches over the next few years instead of the high quality one, it's probably worth it.

Interestingly since you opened this thread we were able to find a loveseat and two couches we were able to purchase on CL that fit what we were looking for after not finding anything for months.

FrugalFan

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2016, 11:59:18 AM »
I love Emily Henderson.

I'm curious about the recliner you specifically want. I just Googled "Elran leather recliner" and a bunch of models came up from Sears for less than 1k. And Sears often has some great sales where you could get at least 20% off regular price.

Kitsune

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2016, 12:05:09 PM »
I love Emily Henderson.

I'm curious about the recliner you specifically want. I just Googled "Elran leather recliner" and a bunch of models came up from Sears for less than 1k. And Sears often has some great sales where you could get at least 20% off regular price.


Ooooh. Super helpful comment! THANKS! :)

Jack

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Re: Quality furniture vs cost
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2016, 12:34:11 PM »
For the last 30 years the American consumer has wanted the cheapest available so it has ran all the craftsman out of business

$8000 on a couch/loveseat?

See bolded section. For some reason consumers in this country (US) and Canada too, I assume, treat furniture prices as fixed. If you asked someone 25 years ago what a decent couch costs, they might reply $800-$1000. Ask someone today, and you'll likely get a similar answer, perhaps a bit higher. Somehow inflation doesn't seem to exist for some in this sphere. And unlike some other consumer goods (say electronics), furniture is very mature. There aren't many efficiencies to be gained. To add to that, the raw materials have probably outpaced inflation. Certainly hardwood resources have.

I bought my sofa new within the last couple of years, believe that it is of good quality (hardwood frame, made in USA, etc.) and paid less than $1000 for it (on sale).