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Why do Some Office Chairs Cost Way More than Others?

Posted by Reuven Goodman on Mar 8, 2017 10:58:02 AM
Reuven Goodman


chair-in-the-road.pngIn the past when you needed a chair you just went out and got one. Whether it was for your business or home office, it really just came down to which chair you found at the crossroads of ‘affordable’ and ‘reasonably comfortable’. It was a pretty straightforward process, as there were only a handful of places you could go to find an office chair in the first place.

Times have changed. Now you look around and chairs are everywhere. Every big-box retailer and office supply store has a desk chair section. Every bulk-grocery discount club and furniture store has a display of their current promotional modular office chairs. The hunt for ‘the right’ chair for your needs has become lost in a landscape of white noise and decision paralysis that leaves most folks wondering where all these options even came from.

Let’s clear away some of the confusion about why the upper end of the price range for office chairs has climbed dramatically in recent years.


Why Are Some Office Chairs Very Inexpensive?

Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The materials and effort that go into making a higher-quality product are reflected in that product’s final cost.


Is it possible to pick up a desk chair from Walmart for less than $50? Of course it is. However, it’s pretty easy to see that what you’re getting is $50 worth of total effort that went into making those chairs.


When compared to commercial office chairs the difference in quality is pretty obvious. There are a number of reasons that chairs end up being more expensive and most of them circle back to that ‘increase in level of quality = increase in retail cost’ formula.

What Is ‘Ergonomics’ And Why Does It Help?

Ergonomic products are created with the functions and limitations of the human body in mind. That simple design concept results in more comfortable chairs that encourage and support better posture and help make our everyday tasks more convenient.

Ergonomic furniture helps reduce instances of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. It also helps prevent neck and lower back pain, which in turn promotes productivity and reduces employee sick days.

An additional benefit of stocking your home or office with ergonomic furniture is that clients and vendors will remember their visit to your office and that great chair they sat in during your meeting.

Comfort And Wellness Considerations.

Sitting can bend the human form out of shape. Over time our bodies form into a shape that fits where we sit and eventually we may even struggle without it.

You don’t have to look far to find evidence of the ‘sitting is the new smoking’ movement online.  While every researcher and outspoken advocate for ‘less sitting’ has a point, those of us that need to sit in order to do our jobs need better options too. Those options exist in chairs that have taken those health risks to heart, and attempted to remedy them. As we’ve discussed above, additional effort ‘in’ means additional unit price ‘out’.

The Importance Of Convenience And Versatility.

If we were robots it would be easier to sit still for 8 hours a day.

People don’t sit still very well, even when it seems like we are. We fidget and lean, shift and bend. We sit forward. We recline. We sit up straight and reach forward to our keyboards for hours at a time. Good office chair designers take all that into consideration.

A major chair manufacturer did a study in which they catalogued the positional changes of 40 office workers. They found that on average their group of subjects made 53 changes in torso posture and 180 changes in arm positioning per hour.

They concluded that a quality chair should be neither stiff nor loose, be easy to get into and out of, and be conveniently adjustable.


The Hidden Cost Of Low Price Products.

There was a common saying among our parent’s generation: “I’m not rich enough to afford cheap stuff”. I heard my grandfather say it growing up, and it wasn’t until I owned things of my own that I understood what he meant.

There is no real guarantee than an expensive chair isn’t going to break. It is, however, a pretty sure thing that a low-priced ‘budget’ version of that chair will break much sooner, and need to be replaced or repaired. Over the life of the furniture, an inexpensive unit that had to be repaired five times may easily end up costing more than the nicer option would have initially.

The differences are small, and often overlooked, but are easy to spot if you know how. Look for metal inserts in screw holes to preserve the integrity of the wood base over many re-assemblings and simple processes for adjusting and modifying the chair that don’t involve tools.

There are very few moving parts on furniture, if those parts are well made, a chair should last through several years of use.  As with the other considerations we’ve discussed, those increases in quality of craftsmanship are reflected in the price of the chair.

What Our Research Has Led Us to Do

Understanding that you get what you pay for is important. BUT so is not overpaying! We have dedicated our whole entire business model to finding that balance between value and quality and our recommended lines of furniture focus on exactly this. Whereas you will never find a quality office chair for $99, you also need not pay $900 to get a great chair. Our task chairs range from $200 to the mid $600’s and are all tried and tested by us or our staff. Oftentimes the value comes in the form of more limited color options or styles but comparable functionality.

The point is that it is worthwhile to spend enough to purchase good office chairs, but you need not mortgage your office to pay for them.


Tell Us What You Think!

Did we help you understand the reasons behind the price-range of office chairs? Do you have questions or comments about the topics we’ve discussed? Use our contact form to let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

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After close to 20 years in the business in Washington and Baltimore, we've gotten to know a lot of people and learned a lot about business.  Our blog is where we share what we know and who we know.  If it's here, it's because we know our friends and clients in Baltimore and DC can get business from it and can improve their businesses with it.

Here are some of the topics we cover:

  • Introductions to friends who can help you save on your office space
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