Morse Road shopping
A haven for budget pricing, this north-end thoroughfare features multiple options for cash-strapped consumers. Columbus Monthly Homes sent Ohio State University senior Deanna Pan out on the strip with $1,000 in virtual bucks to furnish.
Illustration by Mario Noche.
At first glance, the nightstand appeared to have everything a girl could want. Both functional and feminine, the black wooden stand boasted two drawers and scalloped edges skirting it. Small, dark and handsome, it was light enough for me to carry to my car and plop in the trunk, and sturdy enough to support my usual bedside companions: an alarm clock, a pair of glasses, a cellphone, a paperback book and an empty coffee mug.
It was love at first sight, until I took a second look.
The drawers were pasted together with glue, and the paint was chipping at the corners. But the real deal-breaker was the price, a whopping $59.99. I stormed out of Old Time Pottery, feeling jilted.
By that point, I had already been to almost a half dozen different businesses within a two-mile stretch of discount shopping on Morse Road. I was on the hunt for the best deals in bedroom furnishings. Entering my senior year at Ohio State, I’m only a handful of credits away from graduation, hopefully a nine-to-five workweek and the expiration of access to my parents’ pockets.
Among my rites of passage into fulltime adulthood, I’ll undoubtedly have to furnish my first home, most likely a shoebox-sized apartment on the sketchier side of town. In preparation for this juncture in life, my editor tasked me with scoping out Morse Road’s strip of discount shops and furniture stores to see how far I could potentially stretch $1,000 to outfit a bedroom.
Lucky for me, the shabby-chic look is in vogue, so a hodgepodge of kitschy décor could easily pass as eclectic or vintage-inspired in a twentysomething’s studio flat. Armed with a shopping list that included the essentials of comfortable living—a mattress, bed, dresser, mirror, lamp and nightstand—I made my first stop at American Freight at 900 Morse Rd. While I ambled through the bed and dresser displays, a store employee flagged me down. I told him I was in the market for a mattress.
“Ah! This is my favorite part of the job! Come, sit, lay!” he commanded, ushering me to a queen size bed near the front of the store. The mattress was called Legend by Stewart & Hamilton, and came with a box-spring. For $298, the price was right, but what about the feel? As Goldilocks would say, this one was far too soft.
Heeding the advice of my mother, who has moved six kids in and out of dorms, apartments and condos from Miami, Florida, to Omaha, Nebraska, I would rather fork over a few more dollars in exchange for a few hundred good nights of sleep and make the investment in a higher-priced, firmer model. My recommendation: Dr. Marvin’s Orthopedic Chiropractic mattress and box spring, priced at $338.
Next up was Furniture Land, just a few blocks down the street at 1395 Morse Rd. This store offers brand-name models at affordable prices. Furniture Land also has a leg up on nearby competitors such as American Freight and Value City Furniture by offering free delivery for purchases over $399. With my sights set on the big-ticket items a girl my size couldn’t handle alone, I narrowed in on the youth bedroom collections, which were priced lower than anything else I’d seen in the store.
Among my favorite pieces was a versatile four-poster bed called Jaidyn, made by Ashley Furniture. The bed was sleek in black, and charming with its cottage-style posts and grooved paneling on its head and foot boards. Having slept my college years in a twin-sized bed, I’m ready for a big-girl upgrade. The queen model comes to $369, though I could save $40 and opt for the full instead. Identical in color and just as sophisticated as the bed, the Huey Vineyard dresser by Ashley Furniture, valued at $288.99, also was my choice. Its large mirror and six drawers were perfect for stuffing with jewelry, clothes and makeup.
With all but two items crossed off my checklist, I continued my bargain hunt for a lamp and nightstand at Value City Furniture, Big Lots and Old Time Pottery. But my luck seemed to have ended. Value City turned out to be surprisingly expensive, while Old Time Pottery is disappointing in its craftsmanship and Big Lots was short-supplied with few choices available.
I considered giving Value City a second look the next day, until, on a whim, I swung left into the parking lot of Menards, a hardware chain at 1805 Morse Rd. Upon entering the store, I immediately spotted the lighting department to my left, where I found a Tree Floor Lamp by Design House. Its black finish would match my bed and dresser and its price was right: $19.99. With three adjustable lamp heads, it could easily illuminate a small space.
Perhaps I was intoxicated by the hardware store aroma of greased metal and chiseled lumber because, amid my search for a nightstand, I found myself wandering near the plumbing fixtures.
“Uh, honey, are you, uh, looking for something?” asked a young female staffer, not much older than me. I snapped out of my daze.
“Uh, yeah, actually, I’m looking for uh. . . .” My voice trailed off. I was feeling embarrassed for coming here, a hardware store of all places, to look for a bedside table.
“Nightstand,” I finished.
She was incredulous as she guided me to the back of the store, behind the racks of home renovating magazines and refrigerators full of frozen pizzas and sodas, to the left of the front door and to the right of other kitchen appliances. That’s when I saw it: a Sauder Shoal Creek nightstand in a black finish, promising quick and easy assembly and robust construction. It was beautiful.
But it cost $59.86, and my budget was tight.
Across the aisle I chanced upon a black three-shelf bookcase by Orion Furniture Concepts. It is perfect for housing an alarm clock, a pair of glasses, a cellphone, coffee mug, lots of paperback books and, actually, quite a few DVDs, too.
The price was $15.
I left Menards an hour before it closed, a little hungry, a little dusty and completely unscathed from my brief stint in adulthood. I tabulated my grand total: $1,030.98. For a grown-up gal’s apartment? Not too shabby.
Deanna Pan is a former intern for Columbus Monthly Homes.