What To Ask When Buying Furniture!

1 comment Sep 3, 2022

With quarantines ending around the globe, and people being more than ever eager to shop in-store, many forget how easy it is to get suckered into buying something when shopping face-to-face. You may enter “just to browse” but leave with an entire dining suite, the only issue is: was your purchase worth it?

In this blog article, we’re going to go through what you should be picking the brains of the store attendant about before they have you thinking a new bedframe is a great idea.

Where Is It Made?

Cozy Chair - Mainland Furniture NZ

We now live in a global economy, and that means where your furniture is made matters more than ever! So when buying furniture, make sure to ask the salesperson to name where the furniture is made.

While the location may not directly relate to the quality of the unit, it may give you a better idea of what you may be in for.

If the furniture is made locally or in a western/European continent, expect high quality and even higher prices. If it comes from a more exotic location, it may use a more exotic type of wood and use an unconventional styling, making this piece more intended to make a statement.

Meanwhile furniture made from eastern countries can vary wildly. If they’re made from good quality wood such as oak and pine, you could find yourself a proper bargain of a unit, while lower quality materials may provide lower quality furniture.

If you ask the salesperson where the furniture is made and they can spit it off the top of their head immediately, this is a good sign. Depending on what they say, it could guarantee that what you’re buying is a good investment, or at the very least, give you an idea of what you’re in for.

If they say they make it in-store, expect big prices and bigger wait times, as this generally means they make to order, but it could mean you get that feature dining table you always wanted!

If the salesperson tries to dodge the question or can’t answer it confidently, then we would dodge that store. You wouldn’t eat food if you didn’t know where it was made, so why would you trust a dining table where you don’t know where that is made?

What’s it Made Of?

wooden dining chair - Mainland Furniture NZ

This is going to be a quick slot but asking about the material is a great way to check if the furniture is worth buying or not. The main term we’re going to be avoiding is MDF! This type of wood is essentially just a thick and hard paper, which makes it great for keeping production costs low and that’s about it. We’ve already written a blog post discussing MDF and how it makes for a terrible furniture investment, especially from big box retailers that try sell MDF furniture at premium prices.

The main materials we would aim for is either pine or oak! Wood furniture is proven to be incredibly durable and able to last decades with minimal care needed. The best way we would recommend testing out the material quality of a piece of furniture is by giving it a quick heft test: if picking it up proves to be a struggle, then that means that whatever else the unit has to go through will struggle also. If you’re able to pick up the item and hold it over your head, even if it’s large, then take that item and promptly throw it into the nearest bin, because that’s probably where it’s headed in the next few years. But as the next point may mention, this weight test may not make the best judgement for a product's quality.

This guide should show you some great details to look for when buying furniture!

How’s it Made?

Let’s answer one thing quickly: You should not have to pay a premium for furniture that arrives flat-packed. *Mic Drop* 

Flat-packed furniture is generally made to a very low quality and will start peeling at the edges and wobbling before you know it. Some flat-packed furniture can be all right, mostly if it’s packed as a unit body and you have to attach the legs with strong bolts, in this instance the unit is flat-packed to save on shipping costs and to protect the unit in transit.

However, if you’re buying something like a bookcase or chest of drawers, ensure the unit you receive comes fully assembled. From there you can look at other parts of the furniture to see if the unit goes from well-made to really well-made. 

The best places to look for a unit's build quality is in the drawers and back panel. If the drawer feature lovingly made dovetail joining and are on either strong metal runners or feature some sort of guide, then you’re in luck. If the back utilises tongue and groove panelling to further reinforce the unit, then it is a good buy. However, if the furniture lacks either of these qualities, then we would definitely err on the side of caution.

Why should you shop with them?

salesperson - Mainland Furniture NZ

It’s important to remember that while the art of haggling may be dead, salespeople are still more than happy to slip a deal if possible if you choose to purchase with them. 

So when you’re shopping around for furniture, take note of what the salespeople are offering. Is it free shipping? Is it a hefty discount? Maybe they’re tossing in an extra item for free! 

When a business is being a bit more strict on their pricing however, it definitely pays to ask why? Sometimes a firm price can be a good sign as it means the assistant is confident that their product is worth it. 

Whether it’s a slim profit margin or just a high cost of materials, it pays to check if the furniture holds up to the firm price offered. While you may not be getting $300 of extra goodies, the extra $300 spent could mean that you’re getting a better product overall!

After-Sales Support!

When buying new furniture, it’s always worth playing hypotheticals through your head and asking the sales assistant to see what they say just in case these happen.

If the item arrives damaged, how do you return it? Can you get a refund if you decide you don’t like the colour in your home? Questions like these definitely are useful to check as it’s better to have buyer's remorse and be safe than to be left high and dry with an item you don’t like.

Another thing to consider is you may have bought the item, but how do you get it? It’s more common than ever for businesses to only have show units in stock, meaning you could be waiting months to actually receive the item. So definitely check if you can get the item ASAP!

Furthermore, while an item may cost one figure, the cost for shipping could far outweigh the actual worth of the item. So make sure that you’re not paying an exorbitant amount for shipping or even worse, you have to figure out how to get that large buffet back to your house with your only car being a Fiat Punto!


By now, you should have all the tools needed to not be overwhelmed when buying furniture in person. Whether it’s a dining suite or a bedroom suite, don’t just nod your head to keep the conversation flowing, feel free to interject and ask questions! Think of the salesperson as a music conductor, if they’re confident enough to go freestyle jazz, then rest assured that this business is confident in their goods.

Don’t get caught making the same mistake many make every day: buying low-quality furniture from places that are simply trying to make a profit. Ask questions, pick their brains and make sure that the product you buy is an investment, not a purchase.


Are Furniture Prices Negotiable?

To answer quickly, yes and no. While you may not be able to coupon yourself to a free bedroom suite, it always pays when purchasing large amounts of furniture to see if the salesman can round off some numbers. 

This obviously depends on the retailer of course. So don’t go into your big box retailers like The Warehouse or Kmart demanding a massive bedroom furniture discount, but if you’re shopping at a mid-tier or high-class furniture store, then feel free to bring out your full charisma to charm yourself some deals.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Get Furniture?

When it comes time to go into buying furniture, we would definitely recommend either in the early months of the year (January/February) or just before the holiday season (August/September). 

This is due to how furniture, and in turn stock, works. As these months are generally a time where retailers try to purge old stock to make way for new looks. If you’re purchasing technology, then obviously a new model is better but when it comes to furniture, if it looks good and works well then that’s all that matters.

This purging of old stock also means that prices are going to be seriously slashed so that stock goes quickly. Depending on the situation, the retailer may even be kind enough to tack on additional benefits, such as a further discount or another item. So make sure to keep an eye out for sales around this time.

Where is the Best Place to Purchase Furniture?

If you’re reading this post within New Zealand, then great news! Our furniture store sells quality furniture at affordable prices! If you’re questioning whether or not we know much about furniture, then you’ve read our blog post so you tell us.

Outside of New Zealand however, we would definitely recommend using our store as a baseline of what to look for. If the salespeople are more than happy to help and are knowledgeable about what they’re selling, then you’re in the right place! We’ve done enough slander about big box retailers, so we won’t go on about why you shouldn’t shop there.

1 comment

  • Ishan February 25, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    This was awesome article, good read. Thanks for sharing the nice content.
    I really liked this website for furniture deals and online websites for best furniture options.

    Please suggest some more website where I can find good deals.

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