Is Used the Best Value?

By Office Interiors President, Bill Coons

I am often asked if used furniture is a good low cost solution, and while I always want to provide a concise, black and white answer, it’s just not that simple. Used furniture can work and provide savings – but it’s often not as easy or as low cost as assumed.

There are many factors to consider when purchasing any type of office furniture, including functional needs, size, desired colors, product quality, price, etc. The same applies to used furniture, but, but the options are much more limited. For example, an end user must now consider not only what will work with the furniture and space they already have, but also whether or not these specific choices will be available in sufficient quantities, and acceptable quality and price points on the used market.

Other important pre-owned considerations include the electrical capacity of older product and the electrical condition of the product. Also, how much will disassembly, shipping and reassembly costs be, and who will absorb these costs? As most used furniture is sold in “as is” condition, the end user should always plan travel expenses for a site visit and visual inspection prior to purchase, especially since most used product brokers require full payment up front.

Imagine paying in advance for used workstations (which you’ve also paid to ship cross country) only to discover during installation that critical pieces are missing, pieces that are now discontinued and no longer available. Obviously situations like these can be very frustrating, time consuming and costly for all parties. But remember, the furniture was a deal, right?

So, is used office furniture really a good value? It certainly can be – if the end user is very flexible, understands the challenges of used furniture, and the seller is reliable. “Caveat Emptor” remains the golden rule when purchasing used furniture. Using a trusted reliable dealer to help you source the product and manage the process and risks associated is extremely important.

But what if I said that there was another option? Most end users are not looking for used pre-owned as much as they are a good price and the best value. In today’s highly discounted market, there are several product entries with price points equal to, or just slightly greater than pre-owned options. While it’s easy to spend $2,500 to $5,000 per employee, it’s important to recognize you don’t have to. With today’s value engineered lines, you truly can meet the same need for $1,000 to $1,500.

What about the quality? Will value priced lines even hold up through the installation, let alone through your lease? The answer is yes, there are several excellent furniture lines on the market that carry solid warranties and will provide you with a life cycle sufficient to meet your lease term and beyond.

Sounds too good to be true? I thought the same thing, until a few years ago, when after quoting a project using my standard approach; the client informed me that he had received another proposal at half my price! I didn’t believe him at first, but even though this client wanted to buy from me – he wasn’t willing to pay double. As a result, I began to investigate the market’s more economical offerings and was pleasantly surprised to discover that a number of good-looking, good quality products now exist at significantly lower prices which still provide many flexible options for the end user.

So, is used really the best value? The answer is maybe – but maybe not. Before you only go down that pre-owned path, consider all your options and examine what is now available. Find a dealer you can trust to talk through all your needs – product, timeframe, flexibility, budget, etc., and to go to work finding the best value for you. It may or may not be used!


Bill Coons is the President of Office Interiors and has been in the contract office furniture business for more than 30 years.

New Low Cost Solutions


  • Ability to order only what you need lowers cost
  • Ability to customize color and finish selections. You are not locked into what was previously selected.
  • New, updated electrical components
  • Warranty
  • Reliable source – can purchase additional product to match at a later date


  • May cost slightly more than some Used or Pre-owned product
  • May not have as good a Green story or LEED points eligibility
  • The new, lower cost products have more limited selections

Pre-owned or Used Solutions


  • Cost is almost always good or a little better than the new, low cost options
  • Offers a great Green story/potential LEED points
  • Can offer some solutions that low cost new furniture may not
  • May get extra product at no extra cost
  • Upgrade options on Pre-owned/”As-Is” do not usually add cost


  • Riskier to manage and get completed.
  • As-is condition and no warranty
  • It is what it is and you have few choices. Best option is to find an inventory that most closely meets your needs and make do with availability.