The good and bad of purchasing Used furniture

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The most obvious reason to purchase used office furniture is for the savings. The trick is to purchase brand name quality furniture and not the disposal paper thin, paper covered cardboard products that warp or dissolve when the air gets humid. Good quality office furniture can last decades even when moved several times. Some of the brand names to look out for are Herman Miller, Steelcase and Haworth, just to name three. I mention these companies because they design and manufacture complete products for an interior work environment including desk, cubicles, seating, file cabinets and more. Some companies such as Sit On It offer great seating but that is all they offer.

Before we get into the benefits of used office furniture lets briefly discuss why one would not purchase used office furniture. One of the down sides to purchasing used is aesthetics. Not so much that the products look bad but dated. There is a saying about these quality name brand products and that is they grow ugly before they wear out. Chances of them matching your existing décor may be little. Of course if you are allowed to paint your office and a good looking interior is important to you, paint can be a great way to merge (or connect) the overall look. Any good dealership will have a designer on staff to help put a “look” together.

Before we go any further let me apologize in advance for the following as it gets a little gross. The other downside of office furniture is it IS used. That is people have touched the item hundreds of times a day for 8 hours or in some cases as in data centers where they share stations and several different people touched, sat in or even ate food at for 24 hours a day 6 days a week. Some chairs need to be recovered others just steamed cleaned to get out the cheetos, coffee stains and yes…gulp…dead skin. Yep sometimes you can see it on the arms of a chair as a grey film like sticker or tape residue. It does come off with a thorough cleaning and will be fine. I have seen some people take product as is and drop it in the office to let the workers deal with it, knowing there is one OCD person in the group. The good news is when clean these chairs or cubicles look pretty darn good, aside from the multi fleck blues and green color pattern from the 1990’s.

One last down side is there is no longer a warranty. Used furniture is “AS-IS” In rare cases where the product is only several years old some companies will stand behind their product. Some dealers might even step up when the manufacture does not, if it is obvious and reasonable it is the right thing to do.

So if you can deal with the aesthetics and are okay with a clean used product then the benefits start to kick in because typically one can save from 50 to 80%. In addition, many of these brand name products are not only sturdy; they are ergonomic, unlike that brand new import chair for 79.99 at the big box store. When it comes to seating, prices will range from $70 to about 150.00. there are some exceptions to this like the famous Aeron chair by Herman Miller which cannot be found for less than 350.00 in used condition. Personally I am not a fan of this chair but do appreciate it and believe it is worth the money IF it is comfortable to the end user. When it comes to Herman miller Seating I prefer the Mirra chair. But on a budget of no more than $150.00 there are a number of variable choices very close to anyone in the US near a metropolitan area. Steelcase Criterions are great choices with basic functions to some that offer full adjustability. The Hawroth Improv is also a great chair in this price range. The main thing to watch for is the gas cylinder in all seating. Over time these stop working properly. Nothing is more frustrating than sitting in a chair and sinking so low your are at eye level with the side of your worksurface.

When it comes to file cabinets and cubicles the same names will provide years more of service. Why? Because Herman Miller, Steelcase and Haworth make quality products that still use metal and real wood. In addition, they are environmental responsible too.

When in the market for file cabinets look for a strong suspension system with METAL ball bearings, not plastic or nylon. Also pull the drawer out does it fully extend so the back of the drawer is out or does the back of the drawer remain inside the cabinet where it is hard to reach? Taller lateral cabinets should have an anti tilt mechanism and allow only one drawer to open at a time. Again savings on used file cabinets can be huge at $50.00 to $60.00 per drawer on lateral files as opposed to $ 250.00 per drawer for new.

When it comes to cubicles again the savings can add up real quick especially if you have many employees. Each manufacture has their own set up. Its kind of like Ford Vs Chevy, you cant really mix parts. In many cases you are limited to the size panel available. If a dealer only has 4 ft panels in his warehouse and you can only afford to make 6 x 6 cubicles, 4 foot panels will not work. This is where your designer and dealer earn their money if they know what they are doing and are connected through a network of other dealers. In the case of needing more space and reworking an interior of a building, allowing a designer to visit the site and measure is the quickest and cost effective solution. Most of the time this is a free solution. The end result may be using their panels along with other panels of a different color. If that is not acceptable the panels can be recovered which can still be cheaper than buying new but starts to creep the cost up. In addition the panel systems many times have electric available in the race way or can easily be added.

So to summarize when it comes to used office furniture, go see the product, see that it appears clean and in working condition. Sit in it, at it and pull open the drawers to confirm easy smooth operation. Ask questions. 

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