Conscious Spending

Buying new furniture can be an exciting or frustrating experience.  For us, lately, it has been frustrating.  It started with the purchase of a new appliance, a stove.  We spent time making sure we were picking the one we wanted as we had waited years to upgrade and we didn’t want to have to do it again.  We shopped at a chain store and waited while stove after stove came in, all heavily damaged.  In the end, it took six months to get the stove in; it was supposed to take one week.  We thought about canceling our order after the first one took six weeks (instead of one) to arrive, and showed up damaged.  But, we had waited this long, we thought, what’s a little longer?  And besides, surely the next one won’t be damaged.  But aside from the wait and the damage, the customer service had been good.

So, when we decided to start shopping for a new bed frame, we went back.  The one we wanted could be in in as little as a few days.  Shortly after committing to it, we saw a near-local home-based business on Facebook selling a frame they had built.  If only we had seen it earlier we likely would have gone with them—but we thought how building it custom would take some time, and we didn’t want to wait for months (again) to receive our purchase.

So when we got the bedframe we ordered, on time even, we were excited. We unpacked it, carried the pieces into the bedroom, and discovered that when it was being manufactured something had gone wrong: the headboard was not built properly and would not fit onto the sides.  So, it was packed back up, taken back to the store where they said they would order another one.  But the memory of the stove was fresh in our minds, and while we thought the odds of it being wrong again were slim, we just didn’t have it in us to wait and see.

We went back to that advertisement on Facebook.  A handmade, solid wood, king size bed frame, with drawers, stained our choice of colour?  We priced similar frames out before canceling our other order and were surprised at how reasonable it was.  Besides getting a quality piece of furniture, we were able to give our money to people, rather than a corporation.  Sure, it is important for the chain store to make money too, but if I am purchasing something, I feel a lot better about it when it can go to that small business—the couple that is trying to create a life for themselves doing what they love.  There is something uplifting about supporting a local artisan.  That money is going to buy their groceries, their mortgage, maybe it is going into a savings so they can go on that trip.

When someone builds something, it has a different feel to it.  When you can see the imperfections, the measurements written on the back of the wood, it just feels better than when you buy a mass-produced product.

When I first saw their product on Facebook I assumed that it would be very expensive.  I nearly didn’t ask what the price would be, but I am thrilled that we did.  Just because something is handcraft doesn’t mean the price is going to be through the roof.  When the overhead is low, the price can stay low.  That bed is paying for the materials for that bed, it is paying for the time to build it, and it is paying for any advertising.  But it isn’t paying wages beyond the owners, it isn’t paying for a factory, and it isn’t paying for shipping.

So, when you start looking for a new piece of furniture, give a local artisan a try.  Maybe they are priced out of your range, but you might be surprised at how reasonable they are.  This bedframe we got was cheaper than the mass-produced one we were originally looking at.  So not only did we save money, but we felt a lot better about where the money was going, and the product we got was higher quality.

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