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Things I Love About E-Shopping, Part 672

March 11, 2005

If you're a consumer (i.e., if you're human), you know that there's one kind of shopping we all dread the most. The kind of shopping experience that means within a minute of entering the store, you'll get run down by an over-eager sales person who won't take "go away" for an answer.

Furniture shopping.

Furniture sales people stake themselves out by the front doors of furniture stores, eagerly awaiting you the moment you get out of your car. They decide, in advance, who will play predator on the next shopper who walks in the door (perhaps they have a system: in order of alphabetical by last names).

I've tried every excuse I can think of. "No thanks, I'm just looking." "I'm actually just trying to get ideas." "I just come in for the smell of new leather couches." "I've had 37 personal bankruptcies...will you give me credit on a $10,000 purchase?" "Ever since I was diagnosed with the bubonic plague, I've been looking for a good Barcalounger in which to sweat out the toxins." Nothing works. They still adhere like teenage girls on Leonardo DiCaprio.

Formerly a proponent of using the Internet to make only small purchases (books, DVDs, inexpensive clothing items, etc.), I've now changed my tune and discovered e-shopping for furniture. LL Bean (www.llbean.com) is good, so is www.homedecorators.com. Design Toscano (www.designtoscano.com) is my favorite, but then I have ecclectic (read: odd) taste. A coffee table that consists of a sheet of glass resting on the wings of two giant stone gargoyles is right up my gothic alley and really isn't the sort of thing one finds in Seaman's.

A lot of people don't shop for large household goods online because they want to see them and touch them in advance. I admit this is a bonus, but the ability to shop for furniture without "Hi-my-name-is-Steve-we-can-ship-this-to-you-by-Tuesday-and-that's-a-great-price-by-the-way" standing over my shoulder and shoving credit applications in my face is worth the sacrifice. Not long ago, a common waiting time for large items ordered online was six to eight weeks...not very gratifying when you're looking to get a room decorated quickly. A few companies have recognized this and now advertise delivery dates in days rather than weeks (www.furniture.com is one such company.)

Additionally, I like some of the features that Web shopping can offer when looking for items like paint and furniture. Thinking about painting a room? Try this: visit www.glidden.com and you can view every shade of paint the company sells, and you can view the colors in "virtual rooms": photos of bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens in which you can change the colors with a mouse-click to visualize what your final result will look like.

I'll be really sold on the virtual furniture shopping experience when the day comes when I can upload a photo of my dining room, and drag-and-drop images of tables, chairs and decorative accents into it: a sort of CAD/CAM for home decorating.

And Steve is nowhere in sight.

Tracey Schelmetic, tschelmetic@tmcnet.com




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