Save Big on New Furniture: Veteran Salespeople Share Their Secrets

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Are you a budget-minded buyer willing to spend a few hours with an Allen wrench constructing your desk or bed frame? Then IKEA is a good place to shop. Sure, the quality won't be anywhere near that of Ethan Allen (ETH). But not everyone can afford to drop $3,000 on a new leather sofa, as nice as it may be.

Let's assume you don't want cheap furniture, but you can't afford top-of-the-line stuff, either. Don't fret: For those shopping for something that falls in between those two extremes, there's no need to pay sticker price -- especially when you know the insider tips and tricks.

These tips come from conversations with veteran furniture salespeople, and would-be buyers who follow them might be able to save themselves hundreds of dollars.

Buy the Floor Samples

Even if you don't see a "for sale" tag, floor samples -- the individual pieces of furniture sitting out on the showroom floor -- are often sold at a steep discount to the smart customers who ask for them.

Admittedly, those discounts are sometimes warranted, as the furniture left on display can suffer from some slight wear and tear. But if the object looks to be in reasonably good shape, buyers should ask their salesperson if the floor sample is available. When it is, buyers can save themselves 30 percent or more.

Timing is everything, since it may be a while (or never) before a store swaps out floor samples of their newer designs or staple pieces that the store always has on hand.

Pick It Up Yourself

Getting your furniture delivered costs money. But if you have access to a truck, a strong set of hands, and a spare afternoon, you could save yourself $100 or more simply by picking up your purchase yourself.

Even when delivery is offered "for free," the cost has likely already been factored into the price of the item. So, if you're offered free delivery when you buy your furniture, tell the salesperson that you're willing to pick it up if he or she could shave some money off the final tab.

Even if It Isn't Already on Sale, It Can Be Negotiated

If you pay attention to their ads, most furniture stores seem to be running a sale almost every week. These companies can offer such great "deals" because their furniture is often marked up significantly: Industry analysts put the average around 40 percent.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%If you happen to go shopping on one of those rare weekends without a sale, be ready to negotiate with your salesperson. If the item in question isn't already marked down, the price can almost always be negotiated. Experts say that getting 20 percent knocked off the top shouldn't be difficult. Granted, this won't apply to closeout items dumped in the clearance section. But for most pieces of furniture, never willingly pay the sticker price.

Avoid Niche Warranties

When buying furniture, expect to have your salesperson pitch you an extended warranty. Those warranties can sometimes be worth the asking price, depending on the cost and your circumstances. But furniture shoppers should be skeptical of any niche offerings.

For example, buyers of new sofas are often offered extended "fabric protection" policies. The damage these policies claim to cover is often already accounted for under the normal warranty or the store's extended warranty. Buying fabric protection in addition to an extended warranty may be nothing more than a total waste of money.

At any rate, take the time to carefully read over any warranty policies offered -- don't just take the salesperson's word for it.

Saving Money on Your Furniture Purchase

Of course, there are many other ways to save on furniture -- heading to a cheaper store, buying used, or even building your own. But if those options aren't on the table, and you're just looking to save a few bucks at your local furniture store, keep these tips in mind.

Save Big on New Furniture: Veteran Salespeople Share Their Secrets

A big, bold "SALE" sign helps get people in the store, where they are likely to buy non-sale items.

Once you enter, there's the shopping cart. This invention was designed in the late 1930s to help customers make larger purchases more easily.

 

In supermarkets, high margin departments like floral and fresh baked goods are placed near the front door, so you encounter them when your cart is empty and your spirits are high.    
Flowers and baked goods also sit near the front of stores because their appealing smell activates your salivary glands, making you more likely to purchase on impulse.

Supermarkets like to hide dairy products and other essentials on the back wall, forcing you to go through the whole store to reach them.

 

    

Once customers start walking through a store's maze of aisles, they are conditioned to walk up and down each one without deviating.

Most stores move customers from right to left. This, combined with the fact that America drives on the right, makes people more likely to purchase items on the right-hand side of the aisle.

Anything a store really wants customers to buy is placed at eye level. Particularly favored items are highlighted at the ends of aisles.
 

There's also kid eye level. This is where stores place toys, games, sugary cereal, candy, and other items a kid will see and beg his parents to buy.
Sample stations and other displays slow you down while exposing you to new products.
Stores also want items to be in easy reach. Research shows that touching items increases the chance of a purchase.

Color affects shoppers, too. People are drawn into stores by warm hues like reds, oranges, and yellows, but once inside cool colors like blues and greens encourage them to spend more.

Hear that music? Studies show that slow music makes people shop leisurely and spend more. Loud music hurries them through the store and doesn't affect sales. Classical music encourages more expensive purchases.
Store size matters, too. In crowded places, people spend less time shopping, make fewer purchases (planned and impulsive), and feel less comfortable
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Stores not only entice you with sales, they also use limited-time offers to increase your sense of urgency in making a purchase.
The most profitable area of the store is the checkout line. Stores bank on customers succumbing to the candy and magazine racks while they wait.
Finally, there is the ubiquitous "valued shopper" card. This card gives you an occasional deal in exchange for your customer loyalty and valuable personal data.
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Motley Fool contributing writer Sam Mattera has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
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