Grab a Chair

Surplus office furniture abounds amid dot-com decline.

The dot-coms and their Internet consultants may have lacked business sense, but they sure had taste in office furniture—with Herman Millers coveted Aeron chairs among the sitting devices of choice.

Now, that high-end furniture can be yours for pennies.

In a recent Liquidation. com listing, a Net-based business put 1,200 Herman Miller workstations up for sale at a price 87 percent below the market cost. Another Web firm was asking $10,000 for $22,000 worth of office furniture including Hayworth cubicles. An Internet marketplace in Latin America wanted to unload $27,000 worth of L-shaped desks, cupboards, rolling cases, tables, armchairs and a conference table for less than $3,000.

How are furniture makers faring amid the dot-com fire sales? The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) recently downgraded its industry shipment forecast for 2001 to 2.8 percent. Last year, the value of office furniture shipments grew 8.5 percent. A spokesman for BIFMA says the office furniture industry is generally following the same path as the overall economy, but he adds that the long-term outlook is strong.

A spokesman for Herman Miller says the companys quarter ended March 3 capped the strongest nine months in the companys history. While not completely dismissing the potential impact of furniture auctions, the Herman Miller spokesman says the companys traditional customers tend not to buy through secondary markets.

Too bad. Theyre missing some great deals.