In this report
Sizing up the stores
Size up furniture like an expert
January 2008
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Furniture: Sizing up the stores
Catalog retailers have been around for several years, sometimes as an adjunct to a chain of stores. The newest one is Williams-Sonoma Home, from the company that owns Pottery Barn. (The two catalogs offer mainly traditional styles at very different prices, with Williams-Sonoma the more expensive.)

Mass-market retailers—including Ikea, Levitz, Value City, and Wal-Mart—tend to stress price. Expect a fairly limited fabric selection.

Manufacturers’ stores, such as Ethan Allen, La-Z-Boy, and Thomasville, appeared about 10 years ago. They generally carry the maker’s entire line, often with items made exclusively for their stores.

Private-label stores, such as Pottery Barn and Rooms to Go, buy furniture from various makers and put their own names on it. The store can change manufacturers at any time, so the quality of the furniture can also change.

Traditional furniture stores carry a selection of brands at various prices. Comparison-shopping is easy. Smaller stores may carry fewer brands or specialize in one style, such as contemporary.