Recently, we went looking for a 24-inch round metal bistro table for our Harlem terrace and hit a dilemma: whether to buy the pricey classic Fermob table (top photo), made in France, (THE table used in many public spaces), whose durable finish we’ve tested in the guise of a rectangular table we’ve stored outdoors for 2 years OR
…a good-looking knockof (bottom photo), made in China and $100 cheaper. It’s 2 pounds lighter, a concern due to the high winds up here, and we have no idea how the finish would hold-up, or how it looks in person as opposed to a photograph. If it looked cheesey or flimsy, sending it back would be expensive. On the other hand, Terrain, the store that sells it guarantees it for a year. Reviews we read for other Fermob knock-offs complain of easily-scratchable powder coating and flimsy construction. Terrain claims their matte, powder-coated finish is really durable.
Part of our improvised life is making the most of our money, and we LOVE finding less expensive routes to well-designed stuff. It’s a personal challenge we find immensely gratifying WHEN we succeed. But we’ve learned the hard way that going cheap can often be expensive, if the item doesn’t hold up OR if we won’t love it over time, and end up buying another, or if it takes too much of our time to deal with. It is our experience that “cheap” demands scrutiny and a good eye, for style, materials used, how it is constructed.
We mulled the arguments for and against each: Fermob’s famous construction and history…
…versus the scintillating possibility that we might discover a find.
Carl Richards of the New York Times Buck Blog tackles the topic in a couple of posts, and defines the essential question:
If I break down my purchase as cost per use, does it benefit me over the long term to spend a little more for something to last longer?
We made our decision and will report shortly on how it led to some amazing discoveries.
In the meantime, we want to hear your thinking on the name brand/knock-off challenge. Let us know!
Related posts: 11 questions to ask before buying something
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‘the furniture doctor’ and other hot tips for second-hand
our 7-step guide to buying hardware online
soapbox: stylish, durable ikea alternative