Monday, 7 April 2014

Furniture Shopping in Riyadh with Mrs B

My friend, Mrs B, and her husband recently moved to a new, unfurnished, residence.  As such it was necessary for her to do a spot of furniture shopping and, to keep her company and offer the occasional opinion on pieces, she invited me along. She assured me that, at some point in proceedings, we'd stop for coffee - that was a carrot I couldn't turn down.  Hence, with her budget in mind, we began our forays into Saudi's furniture-land.

Mrs B had contemplated purchasing household furniture secondhand via, the most popular expat website for buying and selling used furniture in Riyadh.  I've used the site myself a couple of times to sell household goods.  You can get a few bargains from the site if you're prepared to search through the listings and then traipse around the city finding everything.  You can also get some very used crap.  After perusing what was on offer on the site, Mrs B decided that buying new would be preferable and much less hassle.

Mrs B has been ably assisted in her furniture shopping expeditions by her driver, Sajid. (Like us, Mrs B has found a reliable taxi driver to cart her around the city).  Having lived here for a number of years he is quite au fait with where women like to shop for all the things women like to shop for because, though we aren't supposed to mix with men, we often end up telling our drivers everything!  So when Mrs B said she needed furniture and stated an estimated price range, (not too expensive), Sajid made a couple of suggestions.

Hence, our first stop was at Al Owayis Souq.  Sajid directed us to a shop tucked into a corner of the souq, with three levels crammed full of furniture.  It was reasonably good quality - I admit I was surprised.  My presumption was that souq furniture would be, well, junk.  A lesson was learned that day and I no longer dis souq furniture shops.

Mrs B, I discovered, is a no fuss shopper.  It's similar to my own method of shopping.  Trawling shops for hours, nay days, comparing prices and fiddly bits is not part of my shopping psyche.  It's obviously not part of Mrs B's either.  She quickly found a bedroom suite she liked, with a reasonable price to match, asked if the shop could provide two sets and said, 'I'll take it!'  Just like that.  No running off to another store to compare, no trudging through miles of malls to find something with a different colored handles.  Nope.  She's a Nike Girl.  Just do it!

Mattresses were chosen in a similar fashion.  We bounced around on a couple in store, testing them like Goldilocks when she visited the Three Bears then, because the mattresses indoors didn't feel comfortable to our mature'ish butts, bounced around on a couple out doors.  It's just as well we were at the souq early.  There weren't many folks around to get offended at ladies testing mattresses out in the walkway of a Riyadh souq. Once again, no fuss purchasing meant we were out of there and on to the next place in no time.

Roomz, just off the Northern Ring Road was our next stop for a lounge suite.  This was the first time I'd ever set foot in Roomz and I have to say, I quite like it.  Lots of floor space, a huge variety of furniture and accessories from the typically Saudi style (OTT) through to more contemporary styles, all pleasantly and spaciously displayed.  It's not overly pricey either.  (I discovered since that Roomz have a psychedelic website too.

We had a bit of fun lounging around on couches, chatting with our feet up because what better way is there to test for comfort than to really snuggle into the couch, just like you would at home, till we found the one perfect for Mr and Mrs B and their dispositions.  They even had it in a color Mrs B liked.  (If they had served hot beverages while we were comfy in the couch it would have made our day).

Our next day's shopping expedition was at the most popular store in Riyadh for furniture and household goods, excluding white ware, - IKEA. (Our apartment is full of IKEA furniture - Hubster bought it all when he first arrived.  It's not the cheapest shop around, nor the highest quality, but what it has is functional and when you're decking out a temporary home in a hurry, functional will do).  Mrs B and I spent over 3 hours in IKEA.  That's a record amount of shopping time for me.  Granted one hour was spent having lunch!

We loaded our IKEA trolley with Mrs B's bits and pieces, confident that the packaged dining chairs, lamps, dish racks and other sundry items would easily fit into the taxi - even if we had to sit on it!

All of these shops gave Mrs B a day to expect delivery of her larger purchases.  Riyadh residents tend to be quite skeptical when it comes to delivery dates because they can be a bit hit and miss in this country.  Many a friend has complained of waiting all day and getting zilch.   It doesn't help that most delivery drivers do not speak a great deal of English, or read a great deal of any other language.  (I realized this fact when Mr Hall, our returned Aussie neighbour, was expecting delivery of some furniture and handed his phone over to me so I could attempt to make sense of the garbled foreign words eminating from his Delivery Driver.  Mr Hall presumed that, as I took Arabic lessons, I would understand Delivery Driver Arabic.  He was very lucky I had actually been studying that day and did manage to ascertain that Delivery Driver was on Khurais Road and was looking for directions to our compound.  Whatever I said must have made sense, because Mr Hall's furniture did in fact arrive that night!)  Mrs B had Sajid to oversee Delivery Driver conversations and the only thing that didn't arrive as she expected, and had to be retrieved, was a bedside cabinet.

Mr and Mrs B are now quite comfy in their newly decked out accommodation and I have learnt quite a bit about furniture shopping in Riyadh.

Ka Kite,

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