Furniture - Selling Methods And Sales

( Originally Published 1931 )

Furniture is divided into two groups: odd pieces and suites. A suite consists of two or more matched pieces, and the suite method of furnishing is generally associated with the dining room and with bedrooms. Living rooms are frequently furnished with ensembles, which are collections of odd pieces which produce a desired effect when arranged together in a room.

Many furniture houses or departments in stores advertise an open stock. This means that they will sell one or more pieces from a suite, rather than force the customer to take the whole suite in a single purchase. The supposed advantage here is that a shopper can buy, let us say, a dining table and four chairs with the idea of later rounding out the suite by the purchase of additional chairs and a sideboard. The trouble is that fashions in furniture are subject to rapid changes and there is no guarantee that the particular design which you have chosen in buying part of a suite on open stock will still be continued when you are ready to complete the suite. There are, how-ever, standard designs associated with specific stores or furniture manufacturers, which have become pretty well established; in such cases the risk that you will not be able to complete your suite is minimized.

The shopper has heard or read of the general practice of "mark-down sales." These have been divided into the widespread price reduction sale of an entire department's merchandise stock and the reduction sale confined to specially named and advertised articles. The first occurs usually during so-called semi-annual sales periods, the second at almost any time of the year but more often during the "house-cleaning" periods at the end of the seasons.

Furniture mark-downs occur usually in February or August. They grew out of an effort to stimulate trade during these months which, some years ago, were the dullest of the dull season. As the practice increased shoppers began waiting for these sales and eventually from the dullest these months were graduated into the busiest of the year, to the great loss of sales at other periods. Now, no store can afford to do the greater part of its business at greatly reduced prices during a limited season. The result of this condition is that the "regular" prices of many stores featuring widespread sales in February and August are fictitious, and the price cuts of from ten to fifty per cent thus provide only the illusion of a bargain for the shopper be-cause the so-called "regular" prices were inflated and should never have been charged in the first place.

The other type of mark-down sale in which specific pieces are offered at reduced prices may, on the other hand, offer some real bargains. In this case the store is obviously desirous of getting rid of this particular stock. Its reason may be entirely legitimate; for in-stance, it may have misjudged the demand for the particular design or type in question and therefore be ready to accept a reduced price in order to get the furniture off the floor and thus make room for new stock. Always assuming that the furniture is well made and that the shopper has a real use for it, real bargains may be picked up often at sales of this type.

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