Good question! When you’re shopping for your next sofa, new dining room table or the perfect chair for that little corner by the window, you probably do what everyone does – jump online. Maybe you start with social media pinboards or the flashy websites with all the images of those perfectly styled spaces. Those are great places for a bit of inspiration, but buying furniture online can be a bit of a gamble. Read on for a rundown on the risks, best practices for making the best purchase, and when it’s a smarter move to shop locally.


The Risks: Don’t let those crazy deals fool you – offers like “60% off industrial rustic furniture!” don’t include shipping charges (which can be astronomical) or tax if it applies in your state. And shop with care – those excessively low prices can also be a warning about quality.

Best Practices: Always, always factor for shipping – and not just how much it costs, but what type of shipping you’ll be receiving. Is it door-to-door or curb-side? And read up on the return policy!

When should I shop local? Shop local if the re-stocking fee is prohibitive. And if the price seems too good to be true, remember – there’s probably a reason. If you can find the same item locally, speak to the manager about getting a comparable price to the web deal.

Size & Color

The Risks: It’s all too easy to fall in love with a sofa in a perfectly staged picture. But before you place that order, you have to consider how that sofa will look in your space. And trying to imagine it in your home with your other pieces, wall colors and lighting while also factoring for scale and proportion is difficult.

Best Practices: The best way to decide if a specific piece will fit your space is with a mock-up. Get out the measuring tape and some blue painter’s tape and physically lay out the dimensions. Don’t forget to factor for height as well. If there’s an option for a fabric swatch – even if it’s not free – get it. Different monitors display colors differently, and you want to be sure of what you’re getting.

When should I shop local? If you can’t get color or material swatches, you’re taking a big gamble. Shop local if you’re unsure about the color, material or scale.


The Risks: Determining quality from a photo alone is next to impossible. Ideally, check out the same item locally – and then get it for a better price online.

Best Practices: Pay careful attention to the written description and look for a list of materials. Understand the differences between materials like plastic, wood composites and veneers and various kinds of solid wood. It’s a good idea to speak to a customer service representative for questions about construction and longevity too. And search for online reviews of both the piece of furniture you’re considering and the company.

When should I shop local? If you’re expecting this purchase to last and you can’t find very positive online reviews about the piece you’re considering – and the company you’re buying it from – take it as a sign to go local.

Remember, online furniture often requires assembly. If you’re not handy with a few tools, buying something already assembled may be a smarter option for you. Another benefit of shopping locally? Besides supporting your local economy, you get the benefit of direct assistance. Here at The Find, we offer complimentary design assistance – we want you to be thrilled with your purchase and we’re excited to work with you to solve your design dilemma. Try finding that online!

Tags: tips