Furniture Bargains – or Are They?

The "Had-to-have-it" red kitchen cart

The “had-to-have-it” red kitchen cart

I saw the photo of the red kitchen cart, and I had to have it. Even on my limited budget, it was a bargain. Now I know why it’s so reasonable. It was my friend, Billy, who first said it, “No wonder it’s so cheap, even they don’t want to put it together. People could commit suicide over this!”

Billy was nice enough to volunteer to help me. He used to be an airplane mechanic, so naturally, I thought this would be a breeze for him. I pictured my part as cheerleader, Allen wrench fetcher, and beer opener.

The cart comes in a box – a HUGE box. Turns out it’s two large boxes within the huge box. Everything is wrapped in thin white Styrofoam which disintegrates upon touch. Thousands of tiny white particles rise into the air and refuse to settle down long enough to be sucked up by the vacuum. The exhaust air of the vacuum cleaner alerts the particles that something is coming to get them, so they scatter in all directions leaving only a few stragglers to get swallowed. I resorted to the finger-baggie technique… you crawl around the floor with index finger and thumb poised to pinch. You come in slowly and once you are directly above the culprit you go for the rapid close. Ahhh, gotcha! You then plunge your prey into the bottom of a plastic bag and squeeze the captured bits with the other hand to keep them in the bag. Repeat until you think you have cleaned the floor. Then you turn around and there’s more! Start over.

I spent several hours unpacking and taking inventory of the parts – the many parts. They appeared to be all present and accounted for.

It wasn’t until the next day when Billy arrived to be my hero and put this monster together that I realized there were several mislabeled parts and a few faulty metal pieces that disintegrated upon installation. A trip to Home Depot proved fruitful – we got the last package of Cam Bolts on the shelf. When they snapped into place without breaking, we did the happy dance! As we neared completion I eyed the clock – 8:30 p.m.(we started at 1:00) and hoped the restaurants in Capitola stayed open until 9:00. This is a beach town, mostly active during the daytime, and in the off-season it is an early town. We promised ourselves a reward dinner of a burger ‘n a beer – well earned, especially by Billy.

The next morning, like a kid on Christmas day running to see what Santa left under the tree, I ran to the kitchen to see if the beautiful cart was really there. Yes! There it stood in all its glory! It is splendid – nice looking as well as functional. I immediately filled the drawers and shelves with my kitchen essentials that were donated by friends to launch me on my new life. Happy day. Now on to the weekend garage sales!

My first stop was a good one. I spotted a taped up box and the picture on the front showed a tower of storage drawers in what color? Turquoise! The very accent color of my bedroom. And boy, howdy, did I need storage! For ten bucks, the brand new unopened box was mine. And the nice lady threw in a Stephen King hardback to go on my new bookshelf in the living room. As I studied the picture of the unit on the front of the box I asked, “Is there assembly required?”

She smiled, “No.”

And that was that. Somehow, I pictured opening the box, removing the folded-up stand and placing the turquoise canvas drawers in the frame. After cutting through the tape and dumping the contents out, I saw parts with labels! Arrrggghhhhh!!!! Walk away. Just walk away.


No, no, no, do not call Billy. After what he went through yesterday, I didn’t dare. I could do this. But first, I think I’ll make a pot of chicken soup. Yeah, that’s it. With matzoh balls. Anything to avoid the PARTS!

There was a knock on the door. What? Who could be knocking on my door?

It was Doris, my elegant and stately upstairs neighbor coming to invite me to supper. I invited her in and as she glanced around the place she saw the parts strewn about the living room floor. I sighed and said, “Yeah, I was just looking at how to put that together. After yesterday, (I pointed to the kitchen cart), I never want to tackle parts again.”

Doris, about ten years my senior, said, “Let me have a look.”

Next thing I knew, Doris was snapping pieces into place, all the while smiling. “I love his stuff. This is fun!”

As she got to the end she asked, “Where are the two bars that go across the top? The ones that hold the metal shelf in place?”

I replied, “There are no more parts. No metal bars. This is all there is…the box was taped shut. I see what you mean – the parts are missing.”

She studied the unit for a few minutes. “I know. Go buy some wooden dowels and thread them through the holes. Leave a little extra on the ends and you can hang some fun doo-dads on them.”

“Brilliant!” I cried. And while the soup was simmering, off I ran to Home Depot. I bought the dowels and a sample size of turquoise paint. Cost: Cart – $10.00. Wooden dowel – $.78. Paint – $3.79 Result: Beautiful!

Four-drawer cart with turquoise drawers

Four-drawer cart with turquoise drawers

Wooden dowel extension

Wooden dowel extension

Doris will be my go-to girl from now on – she has tools. And she knows how to use them.

For the rest of my weekend bargains there was no assembly required! Thanks be to the furniture gods … I couldn’t deal with any more parts.

I got a small two-drawer chest at Grey Bears’ half-price sale:

White stool waiting to be painted red. $7.50

White stool waiting to be painted red. $7.50

White chest

White chest $2.50

Plus a stool for the kitchen cart. Can’t wait to paint it red! Half off – $7.50

And the final weekend purchase: the Pottery Barn Wallboard with chalk-board, mirror, bulletin board. Can’t tell you the price… I paid too much. But. I wanted it.

If a friendship can survive the joint endeavor of putting together an IKEA piece, or in the case of the red kitchen cart, a Wayfair piece, then the price may not be too high. If you come to blows during the process, the price may be too high. If your spouse threatens divorce over it, the price is too high. I think I better invite Billy over for a home-cooked meal soon!

Pottery Barn Wallboard

Pottery Barn Wallboard waiting to be hung

9 thoughts on “Furniture Bargains – or Are They?

  1. Loving your tales sista, loving your tales………..

    Arnie L. Gustafson

    Executive Director

    Leisure Pacific Resorts

    Costa Rica Cell: 011 (506) 8421-9257

    International Direct: 1-587-333-5608

    CONFIDENTIALITY WARNING: This message and any attachments are intended only for the intended recipient(s) and are confidential and may be privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, retransmission, conversion to hard copy, copying in any manner and to any media, circulation or other use of this message and any attachments is strictly prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately by return email and delete this message and any attachments from your system. Thank-you.


  2. Your chicken soup comment reminded me of your chicken feet post a while back. I was in mas o menos a few weeks ago. And there they were. a big pack of chicken feet. Ugh. not for me. If I make chicken soup its going to be w/ regular chcken parts. like legs/breasts/thighs/wings. normal stuff. the feet look kind of alien to me when not connected to a real chicken. There must be a story behind those feet. Who told you to buy those things in the first place? :0)


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