Sofa Shopping Shenanigans…Otherwise Known as the Nightmare of Incompetent Salespeople

There’s something therapeutic about going furniture shopping…or just shopping in general. Ladies and gays, I’m sure you can relate. Straight men, I’ve probably lost you already  (if you were even reading this to begin with).

Shopping becomes a literal hell, however, when you’re an interior designer and you’re shopping for yourself. Especially when you’re on the hunt for a new sofa. I know it’s not just me either because I was talking to my friend Courtney, one of my bestest friends from college, this evening and she went through the exact same experience recently in her quest to find a new place to park herself after a long day at work.

You’d think it’d be easy to find a sofa when you live in the third largest city in the country. With a population of nearly 3 million, Chicago should be a mecca for furniture stores. Okay, maybe it is, but when you’re a picky designer and know exactly what you want and the price you want to spend…all hell breaks loose.

Had I not just recently (successfully!!) finished reupholstering that chair I’d mentioned I’d been working on, the Great Sofa Hunt of 2014 would have been significantly easier. But no, I just HAD to pick a fabric that apparently is impossible to match/coordinate/compliment ANYTHING in the Chicago metropolitan area. Leave it to me. Typical.

After scouring websites, ordering fabric swatches, and generally not finding anything I was in love that fell within my budget, I set out to see what the city had to offer. Three weeks, nine different stores (local chain, large chain, and mom-and-pop), and countless grey hairs later I’d nearly given up hope.

The issues were countless.

  • The style is completely wrong.
  • The stitching is exposed and looks like it belongs on a cattle ranch in Texas.
  • The legs aren’t what I want and aren’t an option to change on this particular sofa.
  • The tufting ends at a weird spot.
  • It’s not tufted.
  • The chaise can’t flip from one side to the other – clearly a necessity since I have ADHD when it comes to furniture placement so it needs to move so I’m not locked into only a few options.
  • The cushions are removable and (if removed) look dumb.
  • The dimensions are off and it’s either too deep, too shallow, or the back or arms hit at an awkward height.
  • It’s too firm.
  • It’s too soft.
  • The floor model isn’t wearing very well.
  • It doesn’t come in a fabric option that’ll coordinate with my chair that I’m not about to get rid of or (god forbid) reupholster again.
  • Fork over an amount equal to nearly twice my rent to have this sit in my living room? Thanks, but no thanks.
  • The salesperson is an absolute idiot.

Yes, I’m picky. I know. I’m well aware of this. I’m willing to search and search and search, however, until I find what I want. I’m willing to compromise on budget if needed, but it’s the salespeople who kill me.

If I tell you that A. I’m just looking, and B. I’ll come find you if I need your help, then I’m just looking and will come find you when I need your help. Period. End of statement.

If you’re going to insist on following me around and trying to close a sale, you had better be ready to answer any question I throw at you though.

For instance, if I ask you what other fabric options this comes in and if I can opt for a stain protection package (because let’s face it…I like my red wine), I expect you to know the answer right away. If you need to go ask, that’s fine, but don’t take all day. I have more places I can go.

I also expect you to know what kind of foam this sofa is made of, what kind of lead time it has (or even what a “lead time” is in general), and what double-rubs are. I mean come on now…you’re a salesperson working in a furniture store.

SIDE NOTE: For those of you who don’t know what double-rubs are, head over to Apartment Therapy – they have a great article explaining double-rubs (calculated by the Wyzenbeek test – look Stephanie, I paid attention in Materials!). If you’re a designer and you don’t know, well, you should probably reconsider your career choice.

Needless to say, I dealt with a lot of incompetent salespeople in my quest to find the perfect sofa, but I’m happy to report that after three weeks of searching, dropping about 30% more than I’d originally set out to spend, and a “4-6 weeks” lead time, I found, purchased and financed a custom-upholstered behemoth of a mid-century modern sofa was found…and it should finally be here this week!!!

Now if the delivery people can just manage to fit it into the freight elevator in my building and successfully get it into my apartment with out damaging it (or anything else for that matter), it’ll be a miracle.

So cheers – to being picky, getting what you want, and hopefully being able to sit on a sofa again instead of the floor by the end of the week!

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