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Buy furniture the North Carolina way

Are you looking to refurnish your whole house for the price of just a few rooms? Then head to Hickory or High Point, N.C., where 60 percent of the furniture sold in the United States originates.

You can save thousands because prices are routinely 40 percent to 50 percent below the list prices found at furniture retailers elsewhere and 20 percent to 30 percent off usual sale prices. Plus, the selection is overwhelming.

Interior designer and author Kate Gladchun got serious about discount furniture shopping after she discovered she could save as much as 70 percent by hitting the North Carolina sales in October and April. Those months follow the semiannual furniture buying markets attended by retailers from all over the country. After the professionals leave, the samples go on sale at deep discounts for the rest of us.

The largest dealer is Furnitureland South in High Point, which has more than 1 million square feet of display space. Other establishments to visit are listed in The Fine Furniture and Furnishings Discount Shopping Guide.

Veteran North Carolina furniture shoppers suggest that you map the space where you're going to put the furniture. That way you won't buy something that simply doesn't fit. (Bring along a tape measure just to be sure.) Also have on hand carpet samples, fabric swaths from existing furniture and photographs of your rooms because if you make a mistake, even at these prices, it could be expensive.

You probably won't have to pay sales taxes, but you will have to figure out how to ship the furniture home. The stores have a cooperative delivery arrangement that allows you to consolidate shipments from various outlets as long as you are shipping more than 500 pounds. Expect to pay about $1 per pound in shipping charges.

If you have access to a van or truck, loading the furniture and driving it home yourself is the cheapest alternative. Next cheapest is probably renting a truck that you can drop off at your destination.

After you refurnish your home, don't miss the chance to visit western North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. They are a popular summer destination and you can do more than just look at the spectacular scenery. Rafting and float trips in the area are popular. It's also a great region for hiking, fly fishing, biking and horseback riding, with several equestrian centers nearby.

And don't miss Biltmore Estate in nearby Asheville, N.C. Industrialist George Vanderbilt's palatial home is magnificent and the winery weekends there are a great opportunity to enjoy some fine dining.'s corrections policy
-- Updated: June 28, 2006
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