Wednesday February 15, 2006

The SoBe library's gone + buying furniture in Miami

So, the other day, I'm coming home along A1A, stopped at the light at 21st street on Collins, and I glance over to my right at the Bass Museum of Art[1].

?! The Bass Museum? Shouldn't I be looking at the South Beach Library? Well, exactly: no: the library's gone, in it's place a grassy field, the rotunda the only thing left. I doesn't look like a demolition site - looks like it's been this way for years.

I pull over to snap the photograph above, and walk around the site a bit, and a cop pulls some poor sucker over, blocking my car in with his cruiser. Just then I notice the new library, across the street to the north side of the block. I've got some time to kill now (who wants to ask a cop to move his car?), so I check out the new library.

It's the same collection (I checked out a couple of books!), and the layout is OK - pretty generic, nothing special. Two stories (kids on the 2nd floor - who thought of that?), much less interesting architecturally then the old building. On my way out, I notice the chairs they have at their computer workstations. I try one out (they look pretty plain), and instantly I'm in love. I find it on the DWR site when I'm at home and the thing is over $600 with shipping, which brings me to my real point: it's a pain in the ass buying furniture in Miami.

Unless you're a Rooms-to-Go kind of person, your choices are limited, and generally are going to involve overpaying.

Ikea is decent furniture at reasonable prices. But there's no store anywhere in reasonable driving range (even the one in Atlanta is only recently opened), and boy does their online/mail order system stink[2]. Not to mention, my $180 order became $300 when shipping fees were added in.

There are lots and lots of small stores with modern furniture in town (a number of them are clustered around Biscayne Blvd. between 125 St and Miami Gardens Dr), but they tend to have minimal selection and high prices - great if you have lots of time and money on your hands.

Then there's Design Within Reach, which recently opened a store on Lincoln Rd. - expensive, but at least it's the real deal, right? No: problem is that it's a showroom, and whatever you want is ordered, just like from the catalog, and shipped to you, with the same shipping charges as if you were calling in to the catalog.

And yes, there are thrift stores (the best being Faith Farm in Ft. Lauderdale) which have amazing furniture, but less so with every year that goes by.

So what's the solution? A friend of mine is trying to cook up a scheme involving cheap one-way flights to Atlanta, a trip to the Ikea store, and a u-haul back - that's how desperate we're getting. But so with no further fanfare, we are pleased to announce that yes, the rumors are true: Ikea is planning to open a store in South Florida. In a mere year and a half, all our furniture-related troubles will be over.

[1] Anyone know why it says 'Bass Mvsevm' on the front? Some sort of ancient alphabet thing?

[2] I recently ordered a wall unit and dresser from their online store. Mind you, I had to enter my credit card information before being told the actual shipping cost. I got an e-mail a week later with the shipping cost, asking me to confirm my order. I immediately did. It took another week for them to acknowledge the confirmation[3], and tell me I'd be getting my furniture within 3 weeks. If that wasn't bad enough, I called them today, and (after about an hour on hold) was told that it was actually 3-4 weeks, and I had to call another number still to get any more specific information (I gave up on that one after half an hour on hold).

[3] See West Elm for an example of how to manage an online furniture purchasing experience. A clean and beautiful web site, pre-submit shipping charges, and no-hassle confirmation.

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  1. skipvancel    Thu Feb 16, 10:59 AM #  

    The best place is the Salvation Army, the Rescue Mission and the Jewish Thrift store on NW 27 ave. You have to go there on a regular basis, but eventually you will get your whole place furnished and you can always find something way cooler than any of the aforementioned stores. PS design within Reach has been on Lincoln Road for at least 7 years



  2. alesh    Thu Feb 16, 02:01 PM #  

    There are lots of great thrift stores around, and almost all of them have great stuff every now and again. I’m looking for a sofa, and I know I’ll find a cool one eventually, but back a few years ago you could walk into a thrift store almost any day and find an amazing one. There used to be another place in Wilton Mannors called Deco Nostalgia that bought the best stuff out of the thrift stores (and estate sales, I gather) and sell it for much higher prices; it was often worth it, and a super-fun place to visit. DWR opened on the beach in 2003; that’s “recently” to me…



  3. snowbird    Thu Feb 16, 03:06 PM #  

    I hear that West Elm is planning to open a retail outlet in the Midtown Miami development.



  4. Christian Cipriani    Thu Feb 16, 04:36 PM #  

    They’re opening an Ikea in Sunrise… front page of the Sun Sentinel sometime this week.



  5. Otto Moe Beal    Thu Feb 16, 05:05 PM #  

    WTF? I thought IKEA was a car.



  6. Kathleen    Thu Feb 16, 06:41 PM #  

    There’s also a DWR on Miracle Mile.



  7. alesh    Thu Feb 16, 09:58 PM #  

    Yep. I called them both – neither has any stock. They’re great for kicking the tires; not even people who can afford to spend $3000 on a dining room table/chairs want to do so without seeing the stuff in person.

    My mom pointed out that a few places online sell the caper chair for the same price as DWR, but with free shipping.

    My heart goes out to them – they’re obviously trying to make nice stuff “accessible.” But at this point in my life, it’s still out of my reach.

    I am looking forward to the west elm store, though.



  8. Franklin    Sat Feb 18, 10:36 AM #  

    Yeah, I saw DWR and thought, within reach of whom?



  9. Harlan Erskine    Sun Feb 19, 02:42 AM #  

    if your looking for furniture like DWR you have to check out Luminare, and Ligne Roset. There are also some hidden used modern stores in the design district and downtown. IKEA is of but keep in mind that IKEA furniture is nearly disposable and meant to be something you buy like a fashion.



  10. Jeremy    Tue Feb 28, 03:44 PM #  

    Uh, no, DWR has not been on Lincoln for anywhere NEAR 7 years. Anyway, yeah, we call it Design Within Reach of Millionaires. What a joke.