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“How can I help you sir” said Salesman (Rajesh) at one of the many furniture shops i was visiting at what is often called Asia’s largest furniture market in Delhi. I looked at smiling tabacco-chewing rotund sales fella, whose darkish yellow teeth were out in full glory for anyone who cares to appreciate.

As it is with any furniture market, this shop too was full of eclectic home furniture stuff. My eyes were quickly scanning all the furniture items, trying to figure out quality of wood, workmanship, designs and finish, and making mental notes of their fitment and look at my place.

“Are you looking for Sofa set, sir” said rajesh trying to read my thoughts. “Yes, I am looking for good quality wooden sofa for my living room. I need 7-seater Sofa in configuration of 3+2+1+1 with Centre table and side table. “You have come to best place in the market sir, we have amazing collection of wooden sofas, and we can also custom make for you” said Rajesh now smiling sensing a big deal of the day.

“I need a teak wood Sofa set” I said with emphasis on TEAK (also known as Saagwan). For beginners, teak is most durable and long lasting wood in Asian region, which commands premium pricing for its longetivity. After settling on sofa design, the pricing negotiation started immediately. Rajesh asked for Rs 25000 per seat, unwilling to come down citing premium quality and workmanship of their shop. I was in no mood of paying more than Rs 20000 for the same. Hence, we left and moved on to next shop, with Rajesh following us, throwing in best deal at Rs 21000 per seat.

After an hour or so, I found myself totally confused. During last 75 minutes, we had visited five more shops selling sofa. Here is summary of what happened and source of my confusion

  1. While everyone shopkeeper claimed to sell genuine teak wood, the variation in pricing was astonishing from Rs 12500 – Rs 25000 for the same design.
  2. On questioning such pricing variation, invariable answer was that other shops don’t use teak wood and will cut corners in workmanship and finish. This gets outrightly denied by the one who is selling it at lower pricing, with counter arguments and accusations.
  3. I thought of getting out of this local market, and quickly moved to this huge showroom located right on main road. Now this guy quoted Rs 48000 per seat for the same design, leaving me further more troubled.

Miffed with this entire experience, I decided to return from market without buying anything, till the time get hang of what really was happening in this market.

Over the next week or so, i spoke to quite a few friends and colleagues; all of them recounted similar experiences with them. I also researched online, which presented very limited options with kind of sofa I was interested in, that too at over the top pricing.

This made me even more determined to get to understand and reach crux of matter. Over next 2 months of dedicated research, I found what I was looking for, and these observations left me astounded.

Here are my observations.....

To be continued...

(Vikas founded India’s first and only website selling Customized luxury teak wood furniture (www.india.curvesandcarvings.com), specializing in Antique and Vintage designs. Vikas is B.Tech & MBA graduate, and has worked with MNCs like Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and other in their Sales and Marketing function for 12+ years before starting Curves & Carvings)