Sunday, August 07, 2005

Curiosity got the cat squished in the La-Z-Boy

I'm curious about furniture stores. Here's why:
  • Furniture stores always seem to have copious non-furniture attractions. For example, Ikea has large restaurants in every store, Jordan's has an IMAX theatre. Yet you don't really expect people to go see Batman Begins and pick up an occasional table on the way out. I think the best explanation of this phenomenon is that people like to "make a day out of" furniture shopping. After all, a new dinette is a sizable investment and it might take a while to find exactly the piece you want. So would you rather spend the day at Ikea where you can take a break and have lunch or spend the day at Random Retail, which might not even have a water cooler? Still, it seems to me that when purchasing a fairly expensive durable good, who has the best amenities might not be your top concern.
  • How do furniture stores make any money? This is probably more a reflection of why I shouldn't go into business than anything else. I grew up in a town of about 50,000 people. If they replace their furniture once every 10 years, that's 5,000 times a year and 14 times a week. But there are also more than 14 furniture stores in the area. They must have pretty large margins on each piece sold to pay for their advertising budgets. (This bafflement also extends to car dealerships.)
  • But their immense advertising budgets all go into quantity instead of quality. Anyone in the Boston area has sat through countless Bob's Discount Furniture commercials ("I can't be beat; I won't be beat!"), not to mention Jordan's Bernie and Phil's ("Quality, comfort and price. That's nice!"). The commercials are inevitably filled with loud announcer voices and big block letters and always have a certain dirty tinge to them. This one has an easy answer, I think. When buying furniture, you can find almost anything you want at any store you go to. Thus furniture stores compete on price, not taste. It doesn't take a well-produced commercial to tell the viewer that P.M. Sleep Center has the lowest prices in the tri-state area or that there is a limited-time-only sale on the queen-size Bob-O-Pedic. (This also explains why car dealerships have similarly awful commercials, but car manufacturers have very slick ones.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I followed the link... I'm here... What do I win? Cat Furniture?

9:59 PM  

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