The perils of last-minute furniture shopping

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Sheryl Novak
Sheryl Novak
Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian and owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store in Mexico. Sign up for our free newsletters, which deliver our top headlines twice a week.
Furniture showrooms aren’t what they used to be. Photo: Courtesy

This week I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely couple from Canada who had just purchased a new home here in Mexico. While they await the completion of the build, they decided to start putting together their order with us for their furniture and décor. Even though they are not expecting to take possession for another three months, planning is going to save them money and stress.

The hardest way for expats to furnish a new home in Mexico is to wait until it is completed and then fly here for one frantic week where you try to buy everything, get it all delivered and set up. One week is not enough time to do the job right.

I know because I tried to do that 10 years ago. Not only was I a complete basket case by the end of the week, but I also ended up purchasing a lot of things just because they were immediately available. That meant I did not get the style that I wanted, I had to settle for the colors available, and I sure did not get any deals. In fact, I paid far more than I should have. I could have also put the cost of the airfare, hotel and rental car towards my furniture.

Most furniture retailers have already downsized the inventory on their sales floor. Regardless if you are in the U.S., Canada or Mexico, the days of furniture stores with 30 or 40 sofas and just as many sectionals in a large building are pretty much over. Furniture stores are moving to a model where they will show only one or two lines from each of their manufacturers on their sales floor. They will have samples of available leather and fabric covers, stains and hardware as well as images of different design options available for each line.

Today, it is difficult to find many stores that allow you to buy items right off their floor with immediate delivery. Instead, they have the piece manufactured to your specifications. Already most manufacturing plants in North America can produce their goods in just three to four weeks. For example, Palliser — who is arguably the best upholstery manufacturer in North America — consistently meets their target of four-week production.

Unfortunately, many first-time vacation, retirement or rental home buyers in Mexico don’t realize they will not be able to select from a vast inventory, buy everything and then have it immediately delivered.

For anyone purchasing real estate in Mexico, don’t wait until possession date to buy furniture. Start shopping early to make it less stressful, to get the right items and to save money.

Sheryl Novak is an expat from Canada who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico, an online furniture store and an expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all budgets, in Mexico. Buying a home in Mexico? Email to get a free home inventory list.

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