Tips for Shopping at Used Furniture Stores

By J.W. Carpenter , last updated January 10, 2012

Shopping at used furniture stores and second-hand thrift shops is a great way to save some money on new furnishings. In virtually all sizable cities, there is at least one good sized used furniture retailer with a full selection of pieces for the living room, the bedroom, and the kitchen. While there are certain to be a good number of low quality pieces in any used furniture store, finding that perfect couch, end table, or dresser for your home at a perfect price is certainly a possibility.

Avoid Problem Furniture

If you want a piece of used furniture that will last you for years rather than months, there are several things you should avoid. First, pass on any piece of living room furniture that has a pine wood frame hidden under its upholstery. A pine couch or reclining chair is unlikely to stand up to stress and heavy use for long, even if it feels sturdy at the store. After all, you can never tell what kind of abuse it might have taken in its former home. Hardwoods such as maple or oak are a lot more likely to stand the test of time. Also, while you’re tipping the couch up to check the frame wood, take a close look at the frame joints. If they are stapled together, you should probably pass on the piece. Durable couches and recliners will have good bolts at the joints rather than wood staples, ensuring you don’t crash to the ground unannounced one evening.

You also have to be very selective if you’re shopping for dressers, bureaus, or other furniture pieces with drawers. Spend some time taking the drawers out and examining the rails and sliding mechanisms. You should look to buy pieces with solid, sturdy hardware. A piece with cheap, lightweight hardware or one with drawers that are already difficult to slide is usually a piece worth avoiding. Even if it looks great on the outside, unless you have some experience, refitting a dresser of drawers with new hardware is rarely worth the trouble.

Be Patient

The worst thing you can do when shopping for used furniture is to settle on a piece that’s just okay. If you can’t find a piece of furniture that’s well-built, durable, and meets all your decorative and functional needs, then go home empty handed. In order to find that perfect piece, you’ve got to be patient and willing to wait for it. Visit your local used furniture stores regularly. In most cases, lots of “new” used pieces cycle through used stores on a regular basis.


Once you’ve found a piece you want to buy, don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit. You’d be surprised how common it is to receive a discount of 10 or 15 percent or even more simply by asking for it. Anyway, it can’t hurt to try.

Consider Private Sellers

Finally, don’t forget to check the local newspaper classified ads and your city’s page on Indeed, if you’re willing to wade through some poor pieces and outrageous prices from overconfident private sellers, it’s possible to find some of the very best pieces at truly excellent prices browsing the classified ads.

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