A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 8: The Couch That Got Away

July 4th · 9 Comments

You have no idea how hard it is to acquire furniture in Manhattan. If you’re buying a new sectional sofa from Dune and don’t mind forking over a hefty delivery fee, that’s one thing, but if you’re doing it on the cheap through Craigslist it’s not so simple, as this tale demonstrates.

While having yet another cup of coffee at Starbucks, I perused Craigslist’s furniture section and ran across the following listing:

We are renovating and have a bunch of furniture for sale including:

2 pairs of club chairs
2 sofas
pair of side chairs
dining room table


That’s it. No photos. I took another swig of coffee and tried, with the meager information I had, to read the seller’s mind. On one hand, he/she is moving a lot of furniture fast, so maybe I could make a steal. But there was the troubling lack of photographic evidence. It reminded me of the time I went on a date with a woman I met on Match.com who didn’t post her photo. She said she didn’t want guys to hound her for looks alone. She also claimed, during our initial two-hour phone call, that she worked for NASA as a body model, being measured and submitted to stress tests in pursuit of the perfect spacesuit. That turned out to be a lie, as was the part about the looks. But that’s another story.

I replied to the anonymous email and got an immediate response from one David Lessing, who – score! – lived just a block and a half from my apartment. No problem carrying the booty home. And he said I was the first person who had answered the ad. Double score.

David’s elevator opened onto a tiny vestibule with just one door. Where are the other tenants? I pushed the door open and there was David, who’s maybe 45, shaking my hand. The man has his own elevator.

He affably showed me around from living room to dining room to family room and past the kitchen to the bedrooms – my, what a lot of rooms – and eagerly pointed to what was for sale, which was pretty much everything. The rooms were crowded with couches and chairs that looked close to antique, in excellent condition, underlaid by Persian rugs. Anything he couldn’t sell by tomorrow, he said, he’d have to ship to his other place in the Hamptons. He was eager to sell, and not another buyer in sight. I had him right where I wanted him!

My eye was drawn to the taupe couch and the two brown stuffed chairs in the front room. In my mind I transported the pieces to my 645-square-foot one-bedroom where Joo and I would occupy the couch, martini glasses in hand, while some new, imaginary New York friends, someone named Kia and her boyfriend Leonel, reclined in the chairs and told us all about their latest art installation in Williamsburg.

“How much are you looking for?” I said breezily to David. I had just dispensed of my entire household of furniture in San Francisco, like my grandparents’ couch, just a little stained and seatbeaten, for $40.

“Name a price,” he said. But I demurred until I could get Joo to take a look.

In the evening she accompanied me back up the elevator. We had worked out a system. If she really liked something, she would say her “sister” would really like it. That would mean nab it no matter what. We had set a ceiling of $250 for a couch and two chairs. David met us with his wife, Danielle.

Joo liked a different couch than I did, an off-white one with a firm back and a fine threaded texture that felt luxurious against the tush. “I think my sister would like this a lot,” she said, raising her eyebrows at me.

I threw David a lowball. “How about $150 for all three?” I asked.

“Ummmm,” David said.

“That’s a little low,” said Danielle. “It’s a Sergio Savarese, you know. That couch cost about ten thousand dollars.”

“Oh,” I said.

So Danielle and David saw us to their personal elevator and said they’d discuss it and call us after dinner, to see if we could find some kind of middle ground between their $10,000 and our $150. Haven’t gotten a call back yet. I’m still waiting.

Tags: Personalities · Sights & Scenes · Urban Survival

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve // Jul 4, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    To bad about the couch. The guy should have at least given you a ballpark figure to play with.

  • 2 Sarka // Jul 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    I’m enjoying you, bwana!

  • 3 Les // Jul 8, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    $175, and that’s my final offer!
    Who the frik spends 10 large for a couch!?

  • 4 anne // Jul 10, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    The private elevator, multiple rooms, and house in the hamptons were the big clues.
    I am still laughing.
    Welcome to New York.

  • 5 Mara and Bharath // Jul 11, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    I was positive that, like, you know, they were selling their friends’ stuff while their friends were away at Nantucket –B
    So funny. Thanks for keeping us current. Look forward to reading each day! — Mara

  • 6 Kimberly Winston // Jul 11, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Oh. My. God. $10,000 for a couch. Makes you think, don’t it? I mean, how can I possibly put my ass on a $150 sofa when people are putting their, much better butts, on a $10,000. Call my broker.

  • 7 Jeff Green // Jul 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

    Who the hell is Sergio Savarese???….and why would anyone care???

  • 8 Sarah Farrukh // May 28, 2011 at 5:10 am

    awww so sweet love it 🙂

  • 9 Sam500 // Jul 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Being so rich, they should have given them away to you.

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