Slip sliding away

I normally avoid Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend sales like the plague. I also generally prefer to spend what few dollars of discretionary income I have with local merchants. This past weekend I violated both rules and paid a heavy price.

In my defense, I did not do it intentionally. With only half of my four children home for Thanksgiving, it became apparent that we would be in need of some additional living room furniture when the whole contingent comes home for Christmas. Naturally, given the financial realities I disclosed in last week’s column, I stoutly resisted the suggestion that this should be accomplished by purchasing a new couch.

By rough count I have at least 7 other couches in my large house, surely one of them could be rotated into position to fill the breach. Thus things stood at a stalemate until Saturday night when we ventured into the city for what was supposed to be just dinner with the kids.

Although I had intended to eat Thai food, my son’s less international tastes required a mid-course correction towards more “American” cuisine. I justified my venture out of the county by the fact that, after all, there are no Thai restaurants in Livingston County and I needed to pick up some supplies for the office. The first step down the slippery slope!

My son had taken a separate car and when we arrived at the restaurant, we discovered by cell phone that he was still 10 minutes away from our appointed rendezvous. It was then that I noticed a large furniture store with a clearance center next door. It couldn’t hurt to take a quick look!

As we walked in the door, there was a large sign advertising an additional 15% Off Storewide for Thanksgiving Weekend only. That meant that I could purchase a couch and matching love seat for about $750 plus tax, about $500 less than I had spent on my last set six years ago, which was now moldering away in my living room.

As one of my faithful readers knows, there is a furniture store in Mt. Morris, but with my kids going back to college in the morning, this was my only chance to make a family decision on a major purchase, and the price sure seemed right. So to make a long story short, after dinner we returned to the store (conveniently open until 9 pm) and bought a set.

As a “no frills” clearance center, of course, they did not offer free delivery. No problem, I said. I own a pick-up truck, I ‘ll come back in the morning. (They conveniently opened at 11 am Sunday, giving me enough time to pick up the couches and get home to have my burly son help me unload them before he left for college at 1 pm!)

Thus on Sunday morning I found myself trekking up I-390 on an unusual second trip of the weekend into the city. As if the warning signs weren’t already blaring, I whiled away the time listening to the PBS radio show Car Talk. Just as I heard Click and Clack discuss the importance of putting sand bags in the back of a pick-up truck for winter driving, I noticed that cars were sliding off the road all around me.

I briefly thought of getting off at the Rush exit and making the rest of the trip on secondary roads, but things seemed to clear up so I stayed on the Interstate. After all, I needed to make good time to be back before my furniture mover left.

It seems that the Gods always provide a second warning, and so when my truck temporarily lost it’s footing on the ice, I slowed my speed down even further. But alas, not enough. When crossing a bridge near the Thruway, the truck suddenly veered to the left and crashed into a guard rail at about 40 miles an hour. Luckily the only smart thing I had done all day was wear my seatbelt, and so I do not appear to be injured.

Unfortunately I can not say the same for my truck. The early start to winter this year had persuaded me it was time to mount my plow about a week ago. The plow took the brunt of the crash and the frame was badly bent. The truck itself suffered around $2000 in damages. As of this writing I don’t know if the plow damage will be covered by my insurance, but if it’s not, you can probably add another $3,000 to the price of my “bargain”. Even if it is, my $1,000 deductible will more than double the price of my couch!

I hope this will be a lesson to my readers. Do not be tempted by the bright lights of the city. Stay safe and shop at home this holiday season!

One response to “Slip sliding away

  1. I am relieved that you are OK. The outcome was a mitzvah from the godhead. When you walk away from an accident, you don’t have to worry about the health insurance deductible as well as the auto insurance deductible. But before you head to the big city to make a big purchase, read a little A.A. Milne. “James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree … “You must never go down to the end of the town without consulting me.”

    If your goal was to buy something to fill a space for a few years, the price you paid was fine. However, you will be out looking for a replacement in about 5-7 years. While the initial outlay for a mid-size sofa/love combination is about $1,800, vendors like Rowe give you a lifetime guarantee on the frame, the springs and the seat cushions. I have seen this guarantee honored on a purchase made 18 years ago.

    Buying a sofa/love at any price at a local store and you garner the added benefits of:

    • Delivery charges that won’t approach the cost of the furniture.
    • Prices competitive with the big guys up north.
    • Low staff turnover that results in knowledgeable sales people with accurate product information.

    What you ultimately want is good value for the money you spend. As always, it remains: Caveat emptor; caveat praetor.

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