It Just Doesn’t Come Cheaply

In another blog of mine, I discussed improvements I was making to my house.  In some posts, I talked about making quality purchases and how we have all become conditioned to expect great stuff for low prices.  In reality, that doesn’t happen.  You might get good or ok stuff at low prices, but when you really want something good, something unique, something that will last and continue to look good all the while, you’re really going to have to pay for it.

Of course, I’m not talking about a $12,000 chandelier, although there may be a rationale for it, especially for uniqueness.  But I am talking about buying things 3-4 times more expensive than you might originally have in mind.  In my current situation, I want a chair.  Just one chair.

You might think, ok, go to Walmart and buy a $30 chair.  No, this is a listening chair for my music room.  Ok, go to Staples and get an office chair, maybe $150.  No, I really want something like a recliner.  Then go to Ashley Homestore and get a recliner, they can’t be more than $300.  I want leather.  Ok, $400.  I want a modern style.  (After searching modern leather recliners)  You’re not thinking of a $5,000 Herman Miller Eames, are you?  No, but you’re thinking the right way.  You have to see where you could end up so you feel better about where you actually end up.

So, I’m not planning on getting an iconic art piece of furniture for $5k.  More reasonable is another famous brand you might have heard of, Stressless by Ekornes.  I was surprised to see they’re almost in the $2k range.  But it seems you can get them just about anywhere.  Stressless is a very popular brand and that lends it to a lot of flattery in the form of imitation.  So yeah, you can get a chair that looks like a Stressless for $300.  Great, you say.  Cheap and done.  Looks the same, is the same.

Well, no.  Far from it actually.  First and foremost,  I’m not buying a piece of furniture my ass has to enjoy until my ass has given it the thumbs up.  So no blind internet ordering for this piece.  With that restriction in mind, I begin stopping at furniture stores in my surrounding area.  One thing I quickly learned is that my vision of “modern” is not the same as theirs.  If it doesn’t look like an overstuffed box with tufting and pillowtops on every edge, then it’s “modern”.

I began being more specific in what I was looking for.  I started with a half-apology because the question could rub a salesperson the wrong way.  “I hate using a brand as a description, but I am looking for a recliner in the style of Stressless.”  You might think I was just a cheap bastard – wants a Stressless, doesn’t want to pay for a Stressless.  One salesperson clearly had no idea what I was talking about and showed me a typical recliner, (as I’d begun referring to them) a box.  You’d think if he was selling furniture, he’d be knowledgeable about top brands.  I guess not.

So I looked on and on.  Of the six places I visited, only one had any recliners of the style I wanted.  So I guess they won by default.  But I didn’t just concede the win.  I went online and researched the chairs and found out who the manufacturer was and compared prices to Internet stores (it was comparable, actually).  And I went back to buy the chair the next day, while the store was having a 20% off sale.  The chair is on backorder for oh, about a month, so I have plenty of time to look forward to it.

And how much was this not-$5k chair?  $700 before discount.  I did see similar chairs online for $300, but during my research after finding this chair, I learned a lot about leather.  The key takeaway I got was that a lot of “leather” is of “bonded leather” construction, which is complete garbage.  What you want is top-grain or full-grain leather.  A lot of the lower-priced chairs were upholstered in bonded leather, which is why they were so cheap.  They wouldn’t last a few years before flaking apart.

The chair I bought is top-grain leather with a caveat.  It’s leather on all seating surfaces and vinyl everywhere else.  I’m actually ok with this design since I won’t be sitting on the back of the chair, nor on the sides.  It saves natural resources and keeps the cost down, but still has the durability wherever it will be used.

With my recent purchase of patio loungers, I will soon be able to nap just about anywhere in my house I want.

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