Monday, January 18, 2010

Furniture Shopping in Birmingham

Although we don't often do this, Chris and I found ourselves buying a lot of furniture over the holidays.

Ali needed a big girl bed.

We desperately needed a bedroom suite.

We needed to replace a chair in our living room.

So we set off on an epic adventure of visiting every furniture store within a 30 mile radius of Birmingham to find what we wanted and the best deals.

Our objective: to get the best discounts, sales, and deals on good quality furniture.

So, I decided I'd share what we learned about the furniture stores in the area - or at least, our experiences with them.

We ended up actually purchasing furniture from three stores: Ashley Furniture (Ali's bed), Alabama Furniture Market (Our Living Room Chair), and Mazers Furniture (Our Bedroom Suite and a bedside table and desk for our guest room), so I will, for the most part, limit my reviews to these three stores.

But, for the record, we did find a bedroom suite we liked at Havertys, but it was twice the price of everywhere else. And Rooms to Go had the most inventive children's beds, but their "normal" twin beds were too pricey.

Without further ado...

Ashley Furniture Homestore:

They most definitely had the most inexpensive-but-still-nice children's beds. The bed plus the roll-out trundle cost the same of just a bed at Rooms To Go. So the decision to buy from Ashley was easy.

However, that was the only part of our Ashley dealings that were easy.

First of all: One thing that you need to be completely aware of before buying anything from Ashley: They have a NO RETURNS OR EXCHANGES policy. Completely strict - what you get is what you get, even if it has a few dents or dings on it. This didn't come up for us, but it is an important thing to remember.

We knew this risk before choosing, but after we paid for the furniture, everything else got difficult - something we weren't expecting.
  • It was going to be 10 days before pickup (which put us dangerously close to our deadline of Christmas).

  • We had to pickup from their warehouse in Leeds.

  • The warehouse in Leeds has very inconvenient hours.

  • They never called us when the furniture came in, so we had to track them down.

  • We arrived at the warehouse on a cold and rainy day, and waited for over an hour at the loading dock for our furniture, only to find out that the footboard had been damaged in delivery, and that they would bring it to our house when it came in - in another FEW DAYS, but that we had to call to make that happen.

  • I called on the next business day, and I got major runaround because there was apparently no record that they could deliver it and they wouldn't do it without that. They said that we'd have to come yet again during inconvenient hours to pick it up, unless we could prove that we were told that they would deliver. We finally got them to look up our warehouse paperwork for the guy's name that told us that.

  • They finally delivered it, mere days before Christmas.
The bed was nice quality and we like it, but the customer service and helpfulness was atrocious. When I mentioned this on Twitter, I got LOTS of corroboration that many people have had these issues.

Bottom line: If you want the best price and don't mind being inconvenienced, put off for quite a while, and possibly yanked around to get it, Ashley Furniture Homestore is right for you.

My grade for Ashley Furniture: C-


Alabama Furniture Market:

I adored Alabama Furniture Market in every way. Their sales team was awesome - not at all pushy but very available to be helpful, look up special orders, answer any questions, and even try to help me find furniture similar to the (extraordinarily expensive) bedroom suite I had seen at Havertys.

Their prices were also amazing - great discounts and great selection, but they just didn't have exactly what we needed, except for the perfect chair for the living room.

They also have no taxes if you pick up your furniture.

If I could have found what we had wanted, I would have bought everything from them.

My Grade for Alabama Furniture Market: A-


Mazers Furniture:

Mazers was the last stop we made - I'm not exactly sure why, but it was. However, they had a MUCH larger selection that I thought that they would. They had several bedroom suites that we liked, all MUCH less expensive than the others we looked at.

The one that we decided on was very similar to the one at Havertys, except half the price AND with an extra piece of furniture (an entertainment center). It was an awesome deal! Also, our salesman was awesome - he always seemed to pop up exactly when we had a question, but disappear the rest of the time (for the record, Havertys and Rooms To Go salesmen about drove me BATTY).

Their delivery was great, but the furniture delivered had a couple of issues: the sliding doors in the dresser wouldn't slide, and the chest of drawers had a crack in one piece of wood and a chip off of another (that had obviously been painted over to try to hide).

I called their customer service and they were very nice. They sent a master woodcraftsman out to fix the sliding drawers and sent another chest of drawers out to replace the faulty one. They were also nice enough to simply have the woodcraftsman bring the chest out with him so that I didn't have to wait for him AND a separate delivery truck.

They took care of all of our problems and informed me that we had a one year warranty on the furniture - if ANYTHING went wrong, they'd be glad to come out and fix it again.

At first, I was a little disappointed that it wasn't delivered in perfect (or even working) condition, but they were SO great in handling it and so gracious, I really felt better about them for the extra trouble. We are QUITE happy with our bedroom furniture.

My grade for Mazers: B+

I hope this helps in any future furniture shopping that you have!! Let us all know of any insights you have from your furniture dealings.

If you ever have any Alabama products or retailers that you'd like to share your review of, please email me at rachel@alabamabloggers.com.

13 comments:

Christen said...

Very helpful review, now I know where to go when we need new furniture!

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

NOw this is a topic I'm interested in! I've shopped at Mazur's and Alabama Furniture & like them both. You just have to look around at quality & pricing for good deals. My solid wood DR table came from Mazur's at an excellent closeout price 4 years ago & I didn't actually buy anything from AL Furn., but have been there many times with a friend who did. I did buy from Dogtown a few year ago too. That's a whole other discussion! Fun place if you haven't been there. AL Furn. opened down here & they are part of the Dogtown family.

I love looking at furniture! You did good, your new bedroom furniture is very pretty.

Drew said...

I personally hate furniture shopping because of a bad experience at Marks Fitzgerald a few years ago. They had a flow chart to explain when they could deliver our stuff.

It may be a bit out of the way for some folks but near our house we have TD's Outlet (http://www.tdsoutlet.com/). The commercials say, "We're just down the road from all those high prices." One of my friends from Hoover bought a bedroom suite and another of my friends from Trussville was impressed buy the selection and almost bought some Aspen Home stuff.

Everybody who works there is great and a guy that goes to church with me and works there says they don't work on commission.

I also no plenty of people who swear by Dogtown (http://www.akinsfurniture.com/).

Ann Marie said...

Great info Rach! Good to know Mazer's is so nice with customer service!

We have been very happy with Haverty's for the little bit of furniture shopping we have done at big stores. They werent pushy and even tho they are a bit pricier, if you compare quality to Ashley's or Rooms To Go, Haverty's is MUCH more superior! We haggled and got the price where we wanted for our living room sofa and loveseat a couple years ago and have been very happy.
We went back later and bought stuff for the Jones House too from Havertys!

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Leigh of Bloggeritaville said...

Rachel,

This was a great post! Very insightful! I was interested to find out your Ashleys experience in particular.I have never purchased anything from them but wondered.
I have purchased from Haverty's. I agree ab the salemen! I also found there items expensive*.
I purchased a kitchen table from Mazers years ago. When it was delivered it too had some problems. One of the chairs was lopsided, and two others were missing from the truck. It turned out (as we were told several weeks later) the table and chairs were being discontinued and coul dnot be replaces. We opted to return the table. After a bit of a run around and a personal in store confrontation with the manager, he obliged.
I have not ordered myself, but have many friends and family go the Akins Furniture in Dogtown route. I belive they are operated by the same folsk as Alabama Furniture, but am not 100% certain of that statement. They also do not charge salestax is one opts to pick up their order. They will also order almost anything you can find at any other furniture store, as long as it is a brand name item. I always write down the brand name, style name and model numbers of the pieces I am interested in.
Wonderful and insighful! THX Rachel!

Jamie said...

Good review. I have purchased from Ashley furniture, and I like them okay, but that is if you have the furniture ordered and delivered directly to your home, which of course is an additional fee. Thanks for the info. Next time I need furniture, I will definitely check out the Alabama Furniture Market.

Zane said...

Amazing design!! Check out the wide range of Affordable Furniture from Metroloftfurniture.com.

Love Bears All Things said...

I'd like to put one of those red signs with the slash across it on top of the Ashley logo. I've found their furniture to look good but it definitely is poor quality. I bought a leather loveseat and chair. I even bought a service contract which I rarely do. The pieces started breaking down within 6 months. I got no satisfaction from them even with a service contract. When the pieces became unusable, we gave the loveseat away and the chair is in my husband's office. They look great, still, but every time you sat in them it was like sitting on the floor.
I hope you have better luck. A visit to the forum online tells me many others have been burned. My daughter is one of them.
Mama Bear

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Anonymous said...

Nice post, thanks!

Marcie Lemley said...

I was wondering if you still had the warranty phone number for Mazers? They have went out of business and they said the warranties were still good to just call the company. Leave it to me to lose the number. haha

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