#1 - Thrift Stores. Goodwill, Salvation Army. Not only are thrift stores loaded with cheap inventory, but most of them donate some or all of their proceeds to charities and non-profit organizations - a great way to save money and support a worthwhile cause at the same time.
#2 - Garage and Yard Sales. Neighborhood sales are excellent opportunities to bargain your way to great furniture deals. Most sellers expect to do a some negotiating, so don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit. You may have a bit of competition from other interested buyers, so be sure to arrive early.
#3 - Estate Sales. There are some rather negative associations with estate sales - most have to do with selling off a recently deceased person’s possessions, although some are simply very large moving sales. If you can stomach the morbid connotations, it’s a good way to find well-maintained and/or antique furniture.
#4 - Dumpster Diving. Breathe easy - this method actually doesn’t have much to do with dumpsters. Furniture is generally too large to squeeze into the trash, so drive through residential neighborhoods on trash pickup days. You’ll find all manner of used furniture and accessories piled onto sidewalks. If you’re extra polite, ask before taking to make sure it’s truly unwanted.
#5 - Local retailers. IKEA is a pretty good source of affordable furniture, but local retailers are worth considering if you’re looking for something different. There are a surprising number of small, homegrown furniture stores that sell high quality furnishings at cheap prices. The only problem is finding them; try asking friends and relatives for recommendations, or take a look at #8 - Online Resources.
#6 - Used Furniture Stores and Classifieds. If you don’t mind buying furniture that is worn or damaged, buying secondhand goods is a great way to save money. Consignment stores are a great place to start, but the best bargains come from private parties. Some sellers undervalue their furniture or are desperate to unload before a out-of-town move. Check out your local newspaper and circulars such as PennySaver and Thrifty Nickel, or visit craigslist.org, an online bulletin board.
#7 - Swap Meets. If variety is important to you, you’ll get it in spades at a swap meet. Of course, with such variety comes great disparities in quality - you’ll likely see everything from hand-crafted, high quality goods to complete junk. Most cities have annual or ongoing swap meets - check your yellowpages or newspapers for advertisements.
#8 - Online Resources. If you’ve exhausted the locations above, there are several helpful websites geared towards furniture bargain hunting. As we mentioned in #6, craigslist.org is an excellent resource for finding second-hand furniture. Freecycle.org lists free unwanted items including furniture, while Yelp.com and CitySearch.com offer reviews on local retailers and thrift shops.
Si Lee is a prolific internet writer and owner of several popular blogs. For more information on finding cheap furniture, visit http://FrugalFurniture.org
[tags]cheap, furniture, furnishings, discount, frugal, tips[/tags]