Buying Groups

Review of Furniture 1st Buying Group

by Ben Dwyer

Furniture 1st National Buying Group is a cooperative buying group based in Pennsylvania.

This review is part of our directory of buying groups/group purchasing organizations.

Buying Group Name: Furniture 1st National Buying Group
Industry/Specialty (if applicable):
Number of members:

The group was founded in 1994 by a group of independent furniture retailers and by September 2016, had grown to over 215 members in over 450 stores across 47 states. Members report over $1.7 billion in sales

How does this group work?

Furniture 1st is a cooperative, so each member owns a share in the group. Members can take advantage of Furniture 1st’s services, such as marketing, consumer financial products, training, rebates, and recruiting assistance.

What is its focus?

The mission of Furniture 1st is to improve its members’ profitability. It does so by offering rebates, marketing services, and other programming that will increase the value members can provide to their customers. Coop members have access to assistance with digital marketing, social media consultations, website services and email hosting, consumer financing, trainings, store planning, fixtures, and more.

How does it work in terms of the purchasing process?

In an interview with a staff member of Furniture 1st, she explained that members buy directly from vendor. The vendor then transfers any accrued rebates to Furniture 1st. The buying group distributes the rebates to members. Vendors distribute the merchandise directly to Furniture 1st members.

How does the buying group choose vendors?

Furniture 1st staff members vet vendors, then submit their recommendation to the committee responsible for approving vendors. This committee and Furniture 1st’s board of directors approve the vendor. The group has more than 40 suppliers.

Costs and Requirements for Membership

The Furniture 1st staffer noted that there’s a stockholder fee, a quarterly fee, and that the group collects a small percentage of the rebates in order to function. If you want to join, be aware there are certain criteria the group uses to select members. You must have a Lyon credit rating of 1, 2, or 3, and you must have sales between $2 million and $50 million (that number rises to over $50 million if you’re second, third, or fourth in your market). In addition, you must sell a full line of new residential furniture and merchandise, and it must fall into the medium-low or medium-high categories. Also, you must be in business for at least five years, and you can’t be in geographical competition with another member.

Furniture 1st Buying Group Reviews

Furniture 1st’s website features written testimonials (scattered throughout the site) and video testimonials. Members praise the group for its knowledgeable staff, the networking opportunities it provides, its revenue-increasing programs, and greater purchasing power.

Does your experience line up with the testimonials on the group’s website? If you’re a current or past member of Furniture 1st, let us know about your experience in the comments section below.

See also: Introduction to Group Purchasing Organizations.

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