Caveat Emptor: Advice to the Virgin Barcalounger Buyer

chairs Thanksgiving is a week away! You’re not a kid anymore. You’re 29 and the in-laws are coming. It’s time to impress the relatives. Get rid of that Salvation Army recliner and man up with a new Barcalounger. A chair that says, “I’m a real man now. Master of my own castle.” Picture it in your mind. . . .offering your father-in-law the privilege of sitting in your personal throne.

Caveat emptor! That’s Latin for “Buyer beware!” Those Barcalounger salesmen are waiting to prey on you, the virgin Barcalounger buyer naïve in the way of recliner sales. Here are a few buying tips from a grizzled veteran of the Barcalounger world. It can become ugly but you can get the most for your money if you play it tough.

Leather or Naugahyde? Barcalounger salesmen will try to steer you to their upper-end leather line. If you have the money, go for it; this could be your first step into the world of luxury good consumption. Or, maybe you want to join the legions of Americans with unbridled spending habits and the credit card debt to prove it. But, don’t let them pressure you into overspending or violating your commitment to greening the planet. Naugahyde is a perfectly viable low-budget material, and it’s ideal for the vegan or vegetarian buyer.

Play it smart. Ask if the manufacturer uses genuine PETA-approved Naugahyde. Emphasize that you don’t want cheap imported Naugahyde made by children in some third-world country no one has ever heard of. Ask if the fabric in the Naugahyde is coated with vinyl resin or rubber. Insist on seeing the product testing information, to make sure that the manufacturer used virgin vinyl, not recycled vinyl albums from 1980s heavy metal bands. Demand to see a Greenpeace certificate of authenticity, proving that the rubber in the coating comes from sustainably harvested rubber. You will send a clear message that you are an educated consumer. And, you will protect your karma.

Stainmaster. Maybe you can’t stomach the thought of leather look-alike Naugahyde and you are opting for a fabric Barcalounger. Stain protection is critical. But, make sure you buy the right level of stain protection for future needs. If you don’t have a pet and you don’t plan to have kids, don’t let the salesman up-sell you more than the basic package. With pets and kids in your future, an upgrade package makes sense. Want to have some fun and turn the tables on the power hierarchy? Ask the salesman if the warranty covers blood. Ask if he knows that the average human body contains about five liters of blood. Is there a volume limit on removing blood stains from your Barcalounger? Is the warranty confidential, or are they required to notify the police even if all they see is the blood?

Safety. You’ve probably read that the greatest cause of death among the elderly, like your 54-year-old father-in-law, is accidents in the home. Unless you need the money now, you want to let your inheritance mature and grow for at least another decade. So, make sure you buy a Barcalounger with a Consumer Safety Board rated safety release mechanism. Nothing ruins the holidays like a relative suffocating in a Barcalounger before pie is served.

If you live in a state with open carry, ask about product liability coverage. If you fall asleep while open-carrying and you accidentally shoot yourself, what percentage of your hospital bills will be covered? If you accidentally kill yourself, how much money will they pay out to your wife and kids? What if your gun goes off and injures a guest, will they cover your attorney fees and court costs? Remember the Boy Scout motto, “Be Prepared.”

Micro-aggressions. It’s been a rough year for many Americans. We can all use a kinder, gentler holiday season. So, try to be sensitive. Ask the salesman if he realizes how phallic the lever on the side of the Barcalounger looks. Explain how your female friends and relatives may be uncomfortable using it. Ask if they can replace it with something a little less intimidating or if they have slipcovers for the lever. Maybe a nice Vera Bradley paisley? And, if you really want to take a stand, demand an explanation for why there is La-Z-Boy but not La-Z-Girl.

An educated consumer is a smart consumer. You may be a virgin Barcalounger buyer, but you don’t have to be naïve. Happy shopping.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

(Images: Pinterest and CostcoCouple)