Your business has launched, your lead-generation campaigns are working, and sales are increasing. With plans to hire more employees, you need office space and furniture like desks, task chairs, meeting room tables, and whiteboards.
New office furniture can be expensive. For example, a task chair sold by high-end office furniture and equipment maker Herman Miller can cost up to $1,300 each. Office Depot sells conference tables and six chairs by Bush Business Furniture for $3,760.
Few businesses want to pay high prices like these, and most cannot. This has led to substantial demand for used furniture sold through outlets like consignment stores and liquidators. Companies downsizing, renovating, or going out of business supply the used furniture.
In this article, we explain the benefits of buying used office furniture and where to look for the best deals. We discuss the size of the global used furniture market and the different ways companies serve these customers.
We present three companies in Portland, Oregon, that sell used office furniture. We make the case why hiring a Portland moving company is superior to having the delivery and installation done by the company selling the furniture.
The main reason companies opt to buy second-hand office furniture is cost savings. Second-hand office furniture -- furniture previously owned by another company -- typically sells for 70 - 80% less than it does brand new.
The reason the cost savings is significant is many of the companies supplying the furniture have closed. They no longer have a use for the furniture and don't need to generate revenue from the sale.
Second-hand office furniture... typically sells for 70 - 80% less than it does brand new.
Buying used furniture directly from a business that has recently closed, rather than through a middle man, can create even more cost savings. Find going-out-of-business opportunities on large classified ad websites like Craigslist and eBay Classifieds.
Standard office furniture like desks, task chairs, filing cabinets, bookshelves, conference tables, and whiteboards are readily available. These types of furniture are found in most offices and, as a result, are also the items most available through used furniture sellers. Here are other types of pre-owned furniture that you will likely find.
- Exam and folding tables
- Cubicles, panels, and dividers
- Glass and metal retail fixtures
- Standing and rolling cabinets
- Computer monitor arms
- Bookshelves and credenzas
Refurbishing means restoring something close to its original state or condition. It's when we take something old and make it new again or something close to it. Refurbishing prolongs the useful life of an item and increases its value.
Also called restored office furniture, refurbished office furniture has less demand than used furniture sold in as-is condition. The main reason is that there is significantly less supply. Companies refurbishing their chairs and couches usually do so because they want to continue using them, not because they want to sell them.
Refurbishing prolongs the useful life of an item and increases its value.
Analysts have forecasted the second-hand furniture market will grow $16.6 billion by 2025. In response, a growing number of companies are making it easy to buy and sell used furniture -- including office furniture. Here are a few types of companies that serve this market.
Retail Furniture Stores
Retail furniture stores primarily sell new furniture however, due to the demand many of them have started to sell pre-owned furniture also. Retail stores have showrooms where potential buyers can see and touch the inventory and talk to trained salespeople.
The keystone of a retail furniture store is its focus on the entire customer experience. They cater to customer needs from the moment they walk into the store to installing the furniture. Offerings include purchase financing, design consultations, home/office delivery, and installation services.
Office Furniture Stores
Office furniture stores specialize in selling furniture for home and business offices. Many of them also provide related services such as delivery, installation, and design consulting. Office furniture stores cater to business customers and have staff with workspace planning and office design expertise.
Office furniture stores sell both new and used furniture. Some have showrooms while others sell through agents and online. They have relationships with multiple suppliers and facilitate the purchase of custom-designed furniture and source those hard-to-find items.
Office Furniture Liquidators
Liquidators sell furniture on-behalf of businesses that have dissolved or closed. The role of a liquidator is to sell assets and help the company settle its open claims with creditors and other parties it owes money.
Office furniture liquidators can be an excellent source for used office furniture sold at low prices. Liquidators carry used furniture sold as is and offer a no-frills buying experience whereby add-on services like workspace planning and consulting are not offered.
A consignment store is a company that offers outside sellers a place to display and sell their goods. A consignment store offers physical space such as a showroom to individual sellers and businesses. They generate the foot traffic while the consignor or seller provides the inventory. When an item sells, the two parties split the profit.
Classified Ad Websites
Classified ad websites like Craigslist and OfferUp let people create online listings to advertise and sell used furniture. They carry large amounts of inventory from sellers near and far. You can browse listings, post questions, and purchase items without leaving the site.
Shopping locally for used office furniture has several benefits. For starters, it gives you the chance to build a relationship with the seller. Buying furniture is not always a one-time event, and a good relationship can simplify future orders and net you a great deal.
Another reason to shop locally is seeing and touching the merchandise before buying. You can also ask questions and negotiate on price. As your company grows and you need more furniture, you will already know and have a rapport with the seller.
Shopping at local brick-and-mortar stores gives you the chance to see and touch office furniture before buying.
Shopping locally also reduces your overall cost of ownership since you won't pay fees for shipping and travel. Buying from a non-local seller means you'll pay for shipping, handling, and insurance. These costs are avoided if you buy locally.
In Portland, the number of companies that specialize in used office furniture is few. There are a small number of major players and little else. This simplifies the buying process since there are fewer providers to work with. Here are a few of those providers.
Northwest Office Liquidators
Northwest Office Liquidators sells new, used, and refurbished office furniture from its showroom on Hawthorne Blvd. In business for over 35 years, the company claims to have the largest selection of used office furniture in the Northwest.
Northwest Office Liquidators sells furniture from its showroom floor and office design consultations. They offer virtual and in-person consultations to understand client needs and create a customized office design plan that includes furniture that matches your visual and professional styles.
City Liquidators sells new and used furniture for the home and office. It boasts over 500,000 square feet of new furniture and five football fields of used furniture spread across three warehouse stories.
Owned by Pam and Walk Pelett, City Liquidators sells mostly home furniture. Good deals on office furniture are available, although it makes up only a portion of its overall inventory. Also, the office furniture it sells is mostly items for the home office.
Pacific Northwest Office Furniture & Design
The mission of Pacific Northwest Office Furniture & Design is to design offices that inspire ambition and increase productivity. They sell used office furniture from a modest-sized showroom at pricing among the lowest in Portland.
Pacific Northwest Office Furniture & Design provides professional workspace planning services for any space and budget. They provide their customers with 2D and 3D drawings to envision their office and make informed decisions.
If you are in the market for used office furniture, consider hiring a local moving company to help with delivery and installation. Although most companies that sell used office furniture claim they provide delivery and installation services, these are not their core competencies.
Too often, the workers doing the delivery and installations lack the skills and experience needed to do the job correctly. On the other hand, a professional moving company with commercial moving experience will have staff trained to install office furniture the right way the first time.