Advantages Contemporary Style
Disadvantages Service not the Best
|Frequency of visit|
|Value for money|
|Layout & presentation|
|Selection & range|
Most people will of at least heard of Habitat, the furniture store opened in the 1960’s by Terence Conran. They were the first furniture chain store to sell contemporary designed items, and opened many stores across the country. Unfortunately there are not as many stores left open now, but they can still be found in major towns and cities. Although in Hull, where I live, they closed down in the 1980’s, I think this is also true of the Liverpool store.Surprisingly I believe the company where bought by Ikea a few years ago, so they probably use the same designers now.
What Habitat SellEach Habitat is like a furniture showroom, showing some of the items they stock depending on the size the store. They normal range of display will be sofas, chairs, tables, free standing kitchen units, sideboards, shelving units, beds, wardrobes, bedside units and bathroom units. They also have a range of brightly coloured rugs hung up in the store somewhere and a lighting range. It is fair to say that the design of everything is fairly contemporary, but the prices are more high street. It is worth examining the catalogue that Habitat publish and charge for as many items that they may sell are not necessarily displayed in store. As for finance on furniture, I not sure if they offer 0%, they definately offer a store card with high percentage rates.
Moving away from the furniture, they also sell house and kitchenware such as pots, pans, cooking implements, cutlery and many unusual kitchen items. Recently I purchased a pizza stone from Habitat, which has improved pizza bases immensely making the bases extremely crispy, all for £10. Their range of crockery is also normally very good, although I get the impression this changes regularly and so makes it difficult to start a collection, if the range is discontinued. The crockery can be rather expensive as opposed to Ikea, most plates probably work out at about £6-8 for an average size one.Accompanying the bedroom furniture there is also a range of bedding, often in bright colours and modern designs, this is not necessarily cheap, but probably averages about the same prices as House of Fraser stores, slightly more than Debenhams or Alders. Soft furnishings such as large cushions are found near the bedding and the curtains and window blinds maybe somewhere around as well. They also stock ready to hang curtains and blinds that are relatively inexpensive, and normally available in metallic colours as well as more conventional colours, but they also offer a made to measure service that costs rather a lot more. Additionally they normally stock a range of towels and bath mats, which can be fairly funky.
An art section is another area of each Habitat store, mostly on display are prints, but occasionally I have seen real art on display in the Leeds store, and they have also introduced an Art club in this store where they have special evenings to display and sell artist’s work. A large range of picture frames made out of various metals and wood accompanies the art section. Although I think the frames can work out rather expensive as they are a predetermined size, and I have had specially made frames made up for less than some of Habitat’s.Gardening is not a word that comes to mind when you think of Habitat, but they do stock a small range of garden furniture, traditionally within the summer months. This is normally quite aesthetically pleasing furniture, which is not at all like the types available in B&Q, but the prices are somewhat more. A small range of indoor plants is available as well, accompanied by a wide range of pots and vases.
ServiceThe layout of each store is different although items are grouped together, but what most stores do have in common is the staff, they are usually very casual in dress and attitude. The customer is never pressured and is allowed to browse at their free will. Unfortunately this can work against the company, as at times it is hard to catch the staff’s attention. Furthermore when I have purchased furniture in the past from Habitat 4 out of 5 times it is not in stock and has to be ordered, which can take a couple of weeks. This is quite inconvenient for me, as I live about 55 miles from the nearest store, and anything under £500 do not include delivery. On one occasion the dining room chairs I purchased, when I arrived home I realised that they were rusty and some of the welding had split. I was told by Habitat I would have to return them, this I find very inconvenient, because surely the goods should be fit for purpose by law, so they should come and pick them up and replace them. Maybe I didn’t protest enough, but there again a company like Habitat should promote good customer service.
QualityOn the other hand the quality of most goods I have purchased has generally been very good, and the dining room chairs that were replaced still look like new after four years of wear and tear. I believe the quality is a little higher than Ikea’s in general, but so are the prices, even though a lot of furniture is self assembly.
SummaryOverall people will shop at Habitat depending on their taste, if you have more traditional tastes in furniture you will probably hate the shop. As there is very little competition, apart from designer stores or the cheaper Ikea, in my area for the type of wares that Habitat sell, my tastes and their prices dictate that I shop there. However in other area where the competition is greater such as London, and there are stores such as Heals the story might be somewhat different. I can recommend Habitat for style, have reservations about their service, but I am relatively happy with their pricing.
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