Best local furniture stores

The Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a big time for furniture sales, and results of a new survey could help you avoid big headaches. Researchers at surveyed local customers about virtually every furniture seller in our area, and some stores really stand out.

In a new survey of thousands of local furniture customers, Bothell Furniture is one of only 15 retailers that got a top quality rating from checkbook magazine. After nearly 30 years in the business, owner Scott Susott has seen the side of furniture buying most customers don't see.

"They don't really know the background behind the store or the product necessarily until maybe they do more research," Susott explained.

For the latest issue of Checkbook Magazine, customers weighed in on 56 independents, chains and department store furniture sellers to identify the best in terms of quality, service and reliability. Forty-two percent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with staff responsiveness, attitude and advice at the stores where they'd shopped. The second most common complaint was delivery delays.

"Anyone who has bought furniture before knows that it is very easy to regret your choices," said Checkbook's Executive Editor Kevin Brasler.

Brasler stresses that when buying furniture, it's important to consider the quality of what you're buying and the knowledge and reputation of the seller, not just the price. Are you paying for solid wood or laminate? Is the furniture well made or quickly mass produced without attention to detail. Will the retailer stand behind the product and be there if problems arise?

The latest customer ratings confirm that if you're looking for quality, you get what you pay for. And Checkbook's secret shoppers discovered you don't necessarily save money by shopping online. Checkbook did a comparison between prices in the store, and prices for the same brands online.

"And we found that the online sellers, once you factor in delivery costs, were really about the same as furniture stores in terms of price and sometimes quite a bit higher than some of the stores, so there's really no reason to buy online." Brasler said.

As for the common complaint about delivery delays, Susott says a lot depends on where the item is being made and the sales person's willingness to be forthcoming about to expect. Some furniture sales people might make promises, just to get the sale and tell you what you want to hear. If you're in a hurry a sales person might promise delivery in 6 weeks when in realty it will probably take more like 8 weeks.

"The biggest thing is, if it's U.S. made like our furniture, it's not made until you order it," Susott explained. "Which means that factory may not have all the supplies to make that product when we place the order. So then they're placing orders based on our orders. And when they order something from the factory or from one of their suppliers, if they don't have it in stock, that delays things."

Bottom line: When you're buying furniture, it's not enough to shop based on price. You have to look beneath the surface in order to have confidence in what you're getting- as well as confidence the retailer making the sale.

Checkbook ratings are typically a subscriber service, but we've made special arrangements for KOMO viewers to have access to the full furniture report for the next two weeks. The report will be live on this website until june 2nd.