Aside from car dealerships, furniture stores are the businesses with the most local flair, especially in advertising. Below is a list of some of the more common purveyors of furniture in the greater Boston area. Note that these are the more commonly known stores, and not mom-and-pop places, though those can certainly be very good places to go. There is also a slight discussion, if applicable, of a store's advertising techniques. Some stores are more nationally known and are mentioned if they have a large presence in the area. Shockingly, Boston still has no IKEA.
High End Stores
High end furniture stores are the more expensive places to go. These are usually the sites for the wealthy or upper middle class.
Ah, now we're moving down. We're starting to hit the stores with the most commercials. A general rule is that the cheaper the store, the more annoying the advertisement.
- Jordan's Furntiure: Ah, Jordan's. Jordan's sells pretty high-quality stuff, so far as I can tell. The two owners, the Tuttleman brothers, Barry and Eliot, well-known for their beards and balding pony tails, spent most of the '80's haranging the multitudes with their much-touted "underprices". Nowadays, they have transformed their stores into amusement parks, with entertainment pieces like the Motion Odyssey Movie ride, reflecting the philosophy that buying furniture should be fun. Barry and Eliot are pretty ubiquitous today; they don't even show furniture in their ads anymore, so well known is their presence. The least annoying of the major local furntiure chains.
- Expo, Pottery Barn, Bombay Company, et al.: All the other upper-level national chains, there's not much to say, though it should be noted that Bombay Company employees like to stack about three piece of furniture per square foot in particularly precarious positions that are models of potential energy. If you are clumsy, consider yourself warned.
The Mid Range
Now we're in the thick of it. More annoying ads. NASCAR bumper stickers in the parking lot. Yikes.
- Bob's Discount Furniture: Metastisizing out of Connecticut, the stridently fey Bob Kaufman has finally arrived in Boston. His ads are constantly on television, and are well known for his annoyingly grating delivery. Recently this has been tempered (or heightened, depending on your point of view) by the inclusion of a nameless woman who likes to talk straight to the ladies. "Ladies, we know what we want." Bob's annoying catchphrase: "I dare you to find a better deal. No, I double dare you." His ads were so bad that they were featured on The Daily Show's "Ad Nauseam segment. That said, the store itself is pretty good, though the furniture is mainly made up of immitations, they're usually not that bad quality. Also, you can get cookies and Green Mountain Coffee for free.
- Furniture World: Quiet and unassuming, Furniture World is a pretty good place to go. They sell decent furniture at a good price. The only problem is their exurban presence in dreaded New Hampshire. They only advertise in newspapers, though they did adopt a section of I-93 through Salem, NH.
- Pier 1 Imports: What can be said? Crap.
There is a big diversity in mid-low stores, though the commercials definitely become more irritating, when they happen.
- Bernie and Phyl's Furniture Discount: "Quality, Comfort, and Price.....that's nice." Who has grown up in eastern Massachusetts and not had that ring resoundly though their cranium at least once a day? Bernie and Phyl are the irritating grand-uncle and -aunt of the home furnishings market. They've been around for a long, long time, and are well known for their Boston-heavy accents. Their ads are exquisite, with lines like "I had a nightmeah Doctah Phyl, everyone was telling me 'No!'" "That's because they hahven't seen ouah new fuhniture selection, Behnie. We'll just have to tell them about it..." Or something like that. Ugh. The furniture isn't that great either, though the stores are well-maintained, that is, swept occasionally.
- Dean's Home Furniture: What can be said about Dean that hasn't already been said? The store itself has so-so furniture, though nothing great. Dean himself appears every so often in commercials, with his annoying catchphrase, "I doubt it", said after asking a question such as "Can you find a better deal than this?" or something to that effect. Dean always says this though clenched teeth while shaking his head slightly. As he looks like a soldier in the local LCN, this appears more frightening than motivational.
- Urban Outfitters: The old standby. No advertising. Just a place for students and cheap bastards to buy a chair or two.
- Target, Wal-Mart, et al.: Not much to say here, except that Wal-Mart sucks. Objectively speaking, of course.
Yes. Finally. The bottom of the barrel. The only place down from here is picking up discarded stuff off the street.
- Building 19: Basically a flea market. Building 19 offers semi-discarded furniture safely encased in a chrysalis of dust. All Building 19's follow the 1/n pattern, meaning that there's a Building 19 1/2, a Building 19 1/3, and so on. These would seem to go to an asymptote, though there are anomalies such as "Buildling 19 7/8". Advertisements usually in newspaper circulars, usually covered with self-depracating cartoons.
- Dollar for Pound: The Garment District's lower level, it's basically giant piles of crap. You get a trash bag, fill it up, and weigh it. Guess what you pay for a pound? A good place to pick up broke chairs, abandoned bar stools, and chipped mugs that say "Adam's Bar Mitzvah".
- The Family Dollar, The Dollar Store, et al.: There are a few of these lurking out there, but I don't know much about them, other than you probably can't get good furniture for a dollar.
Update: Well, it seems that as of last night (February 24, 2004), Dean's Home Furniture is no longer with us, having filed for Chapter 11. Be strong, Dean, I'll meet you at the crossroads.