If you’re opening a business, you’ll likely need to invest in some furniture up front. With new customers or clients coming to call, you’ll want to make a good impression, so re-purposing that threadbare couch you bought in college simply won’t do. Fortunately, it is possible to furnish your office nicely without spending a fortune. Here’s how.
- Buy wholesale. When acquiring new furniture and office supplies, you can save substantially by purchasing items at wholesale prices. Many furniture wholesalers will allow members of the general public to buy goods; others require a business license. You may also want to join a membership club like BJ’s, Costco, or Sam’s Club to take advantage of their wholesale prices on office furnishings and other supplies. Keep in mind that wholesalers don’t deliver, so you’ll need to arrange to transport any purchases to your office.
- Look for liquidation sales. When stores go out of business, they typically slash prices, sometimes as low as 70 to 80 percent below the retail standard. In addition to getting rid of inventory, many retailers also sell their office furniture and equipment. The items may be gently used, but you’ll often manage to find deals on equipment, chairs, tables, desks, and other furnishings. (My husband bought a beautiful cafe stool for $50 at our local Borders’ liquidation sale.)
- Get furniture drop-shipped directly from the warehouse. If you’re willing to buy furniture without having the chance to examine it in person, you can save big bucks by buying from a company that sells products directly to consumers (i.e., without a showroom). Look at websites for companies such as DefySupply, which orders products from manufacturers in China and sells them for far less than retail competitors.
- Check Craigslist. You’ll find lots of questionable castoffs on Craigslist, but so many people use the site that there’s also a good chance you’ll score a great find. Search the “for sale” section for relevant items, such as filing cabinets and office chairs, and scrutinize the posted photos for flaws. (Feel free to ask the seller for more snapshots or details before you commit to checking out an item in person.) Don’t be afraid to bargain: On Craigslist, everything’s negotiable.
- Go to auctions. Estate sales and other types of auctions may not always have the best business-related gear, but you may come across rugs, chairs, desks, and other furnishings. Check out AuctionZip to find a listing of upcoming sales near you.