Pros and Cons of Buying New Vs. Used Office Furniture

Furnishing an office can be a challenging task. Whether you’re renovating a current office or opening a new one, the furniture used does more than just fill the space with needed things. Office furniture helps create a specific atmosphere and culture for the employees and customers. And while atmosphere and culture are vital, there’s often a much more important consideration which outweighs the others: your operating budget. A question we hear frequently from small to medium-sized business owners at SKUTCHI Designs is, “Should we buy new or used?”

Which is the best choice? We thought we’d throw together a quick “pros and cons” article to help you along if you’re getting ready to make an investment in your future work environment.

Pros for Buying Used Office Furniture:

The most common reason businesses lean towards purchasing used office furniture is because it’s usually much less expensive. A brand-new startup, with finite resources, must stretch their dollars as far as they can go. Sometimes that means sacrificing quality over quantity as the most viable route.

With consideration to appearance and workplace culture, buying older, vintage pieces to add a certain look or vibe to the office can make your business look unique and stand out when customers walk through the door—something which can be difficult and expensive to accomplish with new furniture. Some businesses even choose a “DIY” approach by modifying purchased used furniture to create a specific look or style they have in mind, something which many wouldn’t feel comfortable doing to brand new pieces of furniture.

So previously owned furniture is certainly a way to go. You can find it at a variety of physical store locations and often online on social media sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. Be careful when buying used furniture online however as the shipping/transportation/installation can cost more than the actual furniture.

Cons for Used:

“Caveat emptor…”, an old Latin expression meaning “Let the Buyer Beware”, is pretty important to keep in mind as you rummage through warehouses and online postings. Furniture sold “as is” is done so for a reason, so take great care in discovering what those reasons may be. So, if you discover a problem—a piece is missing, damaged, worn etc.—chances are you, the buyer, is stuck with it and the cost of replacing or correcting these problems. Used pieces are not going to have any warranty, whereas new furniture usually will.

Also, consider the consistency of appearance when buying used furniture—specifically for an office with frequent visits by clients—can mean many of the desks, chairs, and tables might not match or not function as intended. For some this might not be a problem but if you’re trying to build a brand or a welcoming environment for your customers? It’s often hard to accomplish without uniformity of appearance, style, as well as an expected level of comfort for your employees and guests.

Future availability is another issue. There are many used furniture dealers which only stock a limited amount of a certain piece; once they’re sold… they’re sold. It’s possible once your company experiences growth, and you’re ready to expand, obtaining additional pieces which match what you already have will no longer be an option. Don’t get caught with a lot of mismatched parts and pieces Frankenstein-ed together.

When it comes specifically to cubicle walls and dividers, you’ll discover you probably won’t have all the working parts. For example, the electrical outlets built into the cubicle walls maybe 20 years old and not work or be to code any longer. Screws and bolts holding the walls and panels together may be missing or defective. The caster wheels or springs on chairs no longer work. Trust us, you’re not going to want to have to mediate constant employee bickering as to who gets “the good chair” during department head meetings on a weekly basis.

So most importantly, remember when buying someone else’s used furniture, you’re actually buying a problem someone else once had and decided to get rid of.

Pros for Buying New Furniture

While investing in new furniture may typically be more expensive, the quality and benefits will almost certainly be better. Though the budget can be tight many companies will build the office in phases and as the company grows, they add pieces which complement the existing furniture.

So, consider not paying for more than you actually need, and remember you may not have to pay for everything all at once. Interest rates are as low as they’ve been in a while. A short term loan may not be as hard as it was a couple of years ago. Financing, payment plans, and warranties are available for most new furniture, as well as certain tax benefits.

Online shopping can be a really smart idea as well. Since office furniture is pretty large and bulky, the freight and shipping tend to be free with most national retailers. Look for retailers offering discounts with orders of multiple products (especially around holidays). If they have a surplus of inventory, they may even run sales on certain styles of furniture. There are always great deals of which you can take advantage.

Buying new furniture assures you get exactly what you want. When you need to purchase more, it’s easy to build upon what you already have. This is a great way for many companies to slowly create the perfect office while incorporating their brand into their environment.

Cons for New:

The short term downside of buying new furniture is the cost. New will cost more, no doubt about it. You will, however, get a better product which lasts much longer as used products. The amount of time it takes for shipping and delivery may take longer as well (but oftentimes, it’s free). With larger products like cubicle walls and desking systems, there’s assembly time and handling costs. It could require you to hire professionals to put it all together for you.

Overall:

Both new and used furniture have benefits and downsides. It’s about picking what is right for the company, responsible for your budget, and the environment you want both your customers and employees to inhabit daily. It’s especially important to think about the company’s long-term goals and what sort of growth you anticipate before you buy. This will make it easier in deciding if you want a short-term fix or a long-term investment in your company. Buying used furniture will save money upfront—and you may be able to purchase more for less—but it might also break much sooner than anticipated and you’re stuck with yet another expenditure. Whereas new furniture is under warranty, it's less likely to break in general, looks better and more consistent, and will last much, much longer.

Choose Skutchi for Buying New Furniture:

Did you know Skutchi Designs Inc. can take even the smallest budget and start the company off on the right foot? With our in-house CAD department and expert space planners, we can help build your current office (and your future office) when it’s time to take your workspace seriously. The designers work to make the office exactly what you want while offering the best deals you can find in the US. Everything is done in-house, and an installation team can be sent to your place of employment to put it all together for you. Give us a call for a quote or a drawing today!