Dragging myself through a block of furniture stores yesterday I looked at 500 dark brown couches. All the seating seems to be brown, probably a sign of the times. You don't buy a white couch if you're buying for durability, I guess - although Pottery Barn sells plenty of those white slip-covered jobs. In fact, I looked at so many brown couches that the occasional red couch, which sticks out like a sore thumb in the sea of brown velour, looked weird and undesirable. I've been conditioned brown.
In Temecula, a furniture salesman told me that business had picked up considerably. People have purchased the foreclosed houses for half price, they plan to stay in them (flipping days are gone) and they are investing in furniture. These houses have now become homes instead of investments. People used to buy them, throw in a bean bag chair, sit down and wait for the price to double. Interestingly many of these stores post huge signs that state, "No credit checks". I guess they'll sell to anyone with a heart beat.
In another store, I was looking at a lamp and took the opportunity to sit down on a chair next to it. Jorge, my salesman, flopped in the chair next to me. "Thank God you sat down." he said. "Tired?" I asked. Wiped out", he replied. "I only had four hours of sleep - up partying last night." So we sat for fifteen minutes and I dragged out some questions for him so we'd both get a much needed rest. But there are only so many things you can ask about a lamp - three way? energy consumption :)? come with the shade? will it scratch the table? will it tip over easily?..... and the conversation wound down, just like Jorge. I left him looking pale, leaning against a brown couch, looking at his watch and counting the minutes until he could go home to bed.
"Tom" was my salesman at Linder's Furniture. More brown couches. Tom was charming and personable. I noticed his business card says only "Tom". I wonder if he's really Tom or if they have groups of cards made with a variety of simple names. "Bob", "Harry", "Shaquille" and the like. I was going to say "Tom", "Dick" or "Harry" but I doubt that anyone has been named "Dick" for the past 40 years or so. Generic cards would certainly save on the printing costs.
A Chinese man owned the next store. We talked a few minutes about a coffee table and a baby started to cry. "Excuse me" he said and ran over to a king-sized bed where I'd seen a pink blanket earlier. The pink blanket had a baby under it - a tiny, beautiful little Chinese doll about 3 months old. "I'll take two of those" I told him. Although a bit dour, he actually chuckled a little as he picked up the gorgeous baby and lovingly positioned her on his shoulder. He carried her around, gurgling happily, as we looked at a few more pieces. I lost interest in the furniture altogether and thought about asking him if I could hold the baby for a few minutes, but thought better of it.
On to the final store on the block called "Grand Opening Sale". This name for a furniture store is just as popular as "Big Closing Sale" which the other furniture stores are called. More brown couches, ugly (in my opinion) huge sectionals and recliners with drink cups, popcorn holders, remote control holders and God knows what else built in. I did see one with a ledge and electrical outlet so you could pop the popcorn in your couch eliminating the old-fashioned trip to the kitchen to make the stuff. Another popular item is a coffee table that has a pop-up top making the table top rise into a kind of banquette table you can eat at presumably while watching television. Another improvement on our generation's old TV tables. Young people seem to love these things and I enjoyed watching young couples with kids come in and "get it" immediately.
If one of these retailers called their store "Grand Opening and Big Closing Sale", I'd buy something from them just to reward the sense of humor.