OT? how to buy furniture

So SWMBO wants to buy some furniture. I got out of going to the first trip to the furniture stores so she could 'look around'.
I would rather sit in Laurence Olivier's chair without novacaine than spend the day 'doing the dance' with the salesguys at the various stores.
Unfortunately building a dining room set is above my current skill level and a complete bedroom set would take more time than she is willing to wait so I will have to go along with this.
Any helpful advice on how make the whole process less painful from both a haggling and brousing standpoint?
I've already tried some googling but can't find any prices for names I know like Broyhill. Could I really save enough $$$ to make a trip to NC from NJ worth it?
Signed Helpless in NJ
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On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 11:13:26 -0800 (PST), RayV

Buy used furniture. You'll get most of your money back and it will buy some time to hone your skills. Find a local "sell/buy" radio program. A dining table is not all that difficult to make, especially when there are no leaves. Chairs are more challenging. You probably won't find better prices in NC, just higher quality.
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Yeah, find a picture and let me build it for you. I am reasonable but not cheap. ;~)

How about Houston?
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On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 11:13:26 -0800 (PST), RayV

Look on www.craigslist.org for your city (and nearby cities).
Most larger cities have their own link, such as atlanta.craigslist.org There's a separate furniture section. - the Atlanta list is typical of what's available: http://atlanta.craigslist.org/cgi-bin/furniture.cgi
John
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1. Google "How to buy furniture" and read. 2. Go to various local stores and let her look - take notes of what she likes and dislikes and get model numbers and manufacturer codes. Don't talk price with sales person. 3. Go to dinner - discuss the day's findings and note what is within the budget. Decide who will do the negotiating. 4. Now that you know what you want - get ready to negotiate at the stores that have what you want.
There is typically a big markup in furniture and the store makes even more money off the sale if you finance thru them - usually not a good idea. Get the cash price and negotiate that down. Use your own bank or credit union for a loan if needed. Look at what some of their sale prices are on pieces being marked down to move them out and compare that to the list price. You'll see a huge difference and you can use that percentage to your advantage. Where I worked once there was a 100% markup. Getting 25% off on a room of furniture should be the starting point - take your calculator. It's end of year, new stock is coming, they want to move what they have - you can get some good deals.
You didn't indicate what quality you want but if you ask a salesperson "Is that made of real wood?, you get an answer of, "I don't know" or "Yes". The yes answer could mean it's made from MDF with a veneer or other applied surface and not solid hardwood as you would be perhaps looking for.
As for can you save money by driving to NC and picking it up there. I doubt it after you add in the expenses of gas, lodging, food, truck / trailer rental (if needed) and the several days time you'll need to make your selections. I've been thru the area and there's a lot of stores / outlets. I saw a lot of cheap furniture (low quality) and some high-priced items - of low quality made from man made woods, and other unidentifiable materials that were composites of some kind.
Only you know what you can afford but be a wise shopper and get yourself educated before you make your selections.
Bob S.
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