Shopping Spree

It’s been waaaayyyy too long since my last post. Excuses for the extended absence include: my recent acquisition of a temporary job and its associated lack of free time, Beth’s debilitating back injury/problems, and long hours spent shopping for furniture and household items.

It’s that’s happy purpose which finally gets me back to the blog today. In the past couple of weeks we’ve bought quite a number of things and wanted to share pictures with the world.

In chronological order we’ve bought:

  • (Faux) Red Leather Chair
  • Black Convertible Sofa/Bed
  • New (Recycled) Glassware
  • Sectional Sofa and Chaise Lounge
  • Food Processor, Juicer, Blender
  • 46″ Sony Bravia TV
  • Wireless Router

Of course, many of these trips were interrupted by Beth’s need to do some personal shopping for clothes and she has successfully continued to add to her wardrobe. NYU has installed the kitchen appliances into our Sama Tower apartment, so I’ll cover those too.

May appears to have been “Sale” month in Abu Dhabi. Almost every furniture/home/electronics store we visited had marked items down as much as 50-75%. Initially the whole process was fairly overwhelming, because we didn’t exactly know where or how to begin. Our feelings of indecision were only compounded by some of the strange and terrible offering we saw at our local furniture showrooms.

The worst offender by far is PAN Emirates. You can see a small sampling of their stock online. I especially encourage you to check out their “classic” bedroom and living room sets. As I pointed out on Facebook one afternoon, PAN must assume that their average shopper is some combination of Louis XIV and the Mad Hatter. Everything is the most gaudy, ostentatious, tacky crap that you could possibly imagine. The worst part is that it doesn’t even look expensive. It’s low-budget, imitation royalty at a big box store.

Unfortunately, the other most common problem we encountered was price. Emiratis are not hurting for cash and neither are many of the expats who live here. As a result, there’s a strong demand for high dollar imports. It wasn’t uncommon for us to see a sofa that we loved, but would have set us back 5-10k. Sure, Beth and I are rolling in dough in our new tax-free lifestyle (sarcasm), but we were raised far too egalitarian to spend that much on a piece of furniture.

At the end of our first trip to Dubai, we met us with a couple of Beth’s colleagues at NYUAD. They had been shopping for furniture as well and knew of a big manufacture’s showroom that we all thought would be ripe with quality options. Unfortunately, none of us knew where it was. Like all locations in the UAE, there is no official address, just nearby landmarks on a roughly drawn map to help guide you. We spent at least 30-45 minutes driving in circles before we started to give up hope.

Beth then had the brilliant idea to call information and try to get the showroom’s phone number so we could ask for directions. When the operator answered, Beth asked for the “Marina Showroom” in Dubai. Unfortunately, there are a lot of places in Dubai called “Marina Something-or-Other” so we needed to narrow down our search parameters. We tried geography first—”It’s near the Mall of the Emirates.” No luck. As Beth struggled to come up with more helpful suggestions, she tried the company’s full name: Marina Exotic Furniture. But she didn’t say “exotic,” she said “erotic.”

Our friend (let’s call her Vanessa) in the back seat almost bust a gut laughing. When Stacy (named changed to protect the innocent) and I realized what Beth had said, we lost it too. We started teasing her shouting, “Hang up the phone. They’ll trace the call. They must think we some kind of deviants. They’re going to sic the police on us.”

My iphone eventually got us to the store, but we came home empty handed.

Our early shopping outings were dedicated to finding a couch. We wanted a sectional chaise lounge like the one we had in New York, but were having lots of trouble finding suitable candidates. Most stores seem to focus on sofa sets where you get some combination of 3-seater and 2-seater couches or a matching chair. The other item that quickly rose to the top of our list was a red leather chair. Beth always sat in our neighbor’s leather chair when we were in their apartment and now wanted one of her own. We found the winner at Home Center in Abu Dhabi. It’s not real leather, but it’s also a recliner so that was exciting.

We kept looking for couches while we waited for our chair to be delivered but made little progress. There was one option at IKEA that we kept coming back to. The day we finally decided to pull the trigger, we discovered they were out of stock and wouldn’t have the chaise we wanted for at least a month. Back to the drawing board.

Other than a couch for our living room, we also wanted to find something to put in our second bedroom for potential guests to sleep on when they came to visit. In Astoria, our couch converted flat into a king-sized bed when you pushed in the matching ottoman. One day we went to a local shop in Abu Dhabi called Marlin, because they offered a special discount to all NYUAD staff. They has one sectional we kind of liked, but they had an even better couch that turned into a bed. Between the sale price and NYU’s discount, we got the couch for less than we would have paid at IKEA and wound up with something more unique.

The next step in our adventure took us back to Dubai. A solution to our problem couch problem presented itself at Bo Concept in the Emirates Mall. Bo is a Danish company who specializes in minimalist modular furniture—but it doesn’t come cheap. Even on sale, the couch was more than anything else we had considered up to that point. But it was exactly what we wanted… but there was a catch. They didn’t have it in stock. We’d have to wait 3-4 months to have to assembled and shipped to us in the UAE. For a week or so we wrestled with the idea of spending so much money on a couch. Yes, you sit on it every day, but we could also spend that money on a vacation or save it towards a down payment on a home.

Our story ends at the Abu Dhabi Mall near our apartment. I took Beth to look at two couches I’d seen in stores we’d visited previously. Neither was perfect, and I knew that going in, but we were starting to get desperate. When those two options didn’t pan out, we happen to go by a mall directory. Down in the very back corner of the mall, on a floor we never visited, was a furniture store. We thought, what the heck… let’s take a look.

And then, a miracle happened. They had a couch. It was a section sofa with a chaise lounge on the right side. It was on sale, and they had one left in stock. The one in the showroom was leather, so we had to make our decision based on a fabric swatch no bigger than 2-inches square. After 5 short minutes of deliberation we had our couch: a beautiful Italian sofa made by Natuzzi. Apparently we weren’t so egalitarian after all, because everyone we know has been quite impressed by our purchase.

There are stories behind our other purchases, but they’re not as interesting and Beth says it’s time to wrap up so we can focus on dinner. Time for pictures:

  • (Faux) Red Leather Chair
  • Recliner Mode
  • Black Convertible Couch
  • Guests Sleep Here
  • Natuzzi Sectional Sofa
  • See That Fine Italian Craftsmanship
  • Microwave, Oven, and Washing Machine
  • Skinny Refridgerator
  • Inside of Fridge
  • Strange, Narrow Freezer Drawers
  • Washer/Dryer Combo Unit

3 Responses to “Shopping Spree”

  1. Mom/Judy says:

    Boy, have you guys had fun shopping! Everything looks good (except maybe the skinny fridge) How will you have lots of food when you have the joy of relatives visiting??? Also, I note that you mentioned a 46″ tv. Of course, that is bigger than the one we have; so I will be hearing about that from you know who!

  2. Erin says:

    Been enjoying catching up on your blog, Vic, and all your Vic-humor makes me chuckle!

  3. Thank to writer you are review is good for me.