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What I Learned Buying Ex-Rental Furniture from CORT Outlet

This review of CORT furniture was not solicited and was not sponsored. It is entirely my own opinion based on my experience as a regular customer. NO affiliate links are included.

Like most of you, my 2020 was disruptive. After spending the first three months of the pandemic isolated in a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, in the summer of 2020 I decided to make a major life change and move in with friends in a shared house in Seattle where we could isolate together in community. In retrospect, this was a great decision but it left me, as the pandemic and my season of shared housing ended, without a single piece of furniture.

So when I decided to buy a house in an urban neighborhood of St. Louis and move there, the little 1000 square foot cottage felt like a cavernous and empty space. I’d moved from Seattle to St. Louis with little more than what I could fit in my Honda CRV!

Acquiring furniture for my new home proved more difficult than anticipated: 2021’s shortages in furniture and housewares have meant that the sofa I had my heart set on required a 7-months wait for delivery (even for non-custom fabrics)! When I kept furniture shopping and discovered that my second and third choices for sofas would also include a several-month furniture backorder, I knew I had to find an alternative.

A used couch from the CORT outlet shortly after delivery, pictured with the CORT truck shown outside the window of the home.
A used couch from the CORT outlet shortly after delivery, pictured with the CORT truck shown outside the window of the home.

Setting up a Home with No Furniture

Moving is expensive, but moving into a place when you don’t have any furniture is a financial nightmare. After installing a new central air-conditioning unit a new flooring throughout the house in the weeks before I moved in, by the time my moving date came I was strapped for cash. Even if couches and other basic furniture were not months back-ordered, I would’ve had to wait to purchase new furniture until I financially recovered a bit from the costs of the move, buying the house, and minor renovations.

A venn diagram illustration how it is almost impossible to buy a couch that is comfortable, stylish, and also affordable.

How I found CORT furniture outlet

As I was combing the listings for used furniture for sale near me I had three criteria: 1. it had to be in style, 2. it had to be clean, and 3. it had to have a delivery option (or, be affordable after hiring movers).

Briefly, I considered renting furniture- and that is how I found CORT and their outlet. Renting furniture, I considered, might give me the chance to furnish my home at an affordable monthly cost while I sourced, ordered, and waited for delivery of furniture of my own. But ultimately, the math didn’t add up, and renting would have been far more expensive. Here’s my calculations:

Closeup of a neutral colored sofa, showing an obviously used condition.

Cost to Rent a Sofa:

The cost to rent just a couch from CORT, after fees, mandatory insurance, and delivery, would have been about $100 a month. So having a couch temporarily during the seven-month wait for the couch I actually wanted would have cost me about $700 total.

Cost to buy a clearance rental sofa:

On the other hand, the cost to purchase a used couch from CORT was under $400 including delivery ($382.64, to be exact). After seven months, if I still want my dream couch, I expect to be able to sell the couch I purchased used from CORT for $100-$150- resulting in a total cost of less than $275 to use the sofa for seven months.

Renting furniture certainly makes sense for some (like traveling nurses or people working on business contracts who need furniture for only a few months); for me, even though it was going to be expensive to buy an entire house worth of furniture in the course of two or three months, looking at the numbers helped me resist the urge to get instant satisfaction through furniture rental and instead it to settle in for waitlists, shopping the Goodwill outlet, and scour secondhand listings for clean, stylish, and nearly new items ready for immediate pickup.

The CORT showroom

I almost didn’t purchase from the CORT outlet because the showroom in a suburb outside St. Louis had closed during Covid and not reopened to in-person shoppers. In the long run, this was probably to my advantage- as if I’d have the opportunity to browse their inventory I definitely would have purchased more items from them (and not necessarily stuff that was my style- just things that were cheap and available).

It was hard to purchase a sofa without sitting on it first, and if I was spending a larger amount of money I definitely would not have purchased from CORT without having the opportunity to sit on their furniture before purchase. But knowing that I was purchasing a temporary sofa to tide me over until my back-ordered sofa arrived, combined with the affordable price, made it easier to take that risk.

Closeup of a neutral colored sofa, showing an obviously used condition.

Buying a sofa online from the CORT furniture outlet

Even though the showroom was closed, it was easy to browse the inventory of the local outlet online. Because of the size constraints of my very small living room and my requirement for a neutral-colored sofa, it was easy to reduce my options to just two sofas available on their website.

Purchasing was as simple as adding the sofa to my cart and checking out on a Saturday afternoon. A delivery fee, about $75, was added to my order. The option to pick up was also available, which would remove the delivery fee, however, I chose to go with CORT’s in-house delivery since I have a small vehicle and not many friends yet in St. Louis of the “help me move furniture” sort.

First issue: follow-up

During checkout, a message displayed indicating that I could expect a phone call to schedule delivery within 24-48 hours. Since I place my order on a Saturday afternoon, I expected that that window could extend through Tuesday but when no phone call had been received by late Tuesday afternoon, I decided to give CORT a call. All phone calls to CORT go through a slightly frustrating phone tree, but after finally reaching a human she was able to connect me with someone at the local CORT outlet who scheduled my delivery for two days later.

Closeup of a neutral colored sofa, showing an obviously used condition.
Ex-rental sofa’s condition on delivery

CORT couch delivery: an honest review

This review of CORT furniture was not solicited or sponsored and is entirely my own opinion based on my experience as a regular customer.

On the day of delivery, the driver called me about 30 minutes before arrival to confirm that I was home and expecting them. Right on time, about 30 minutes later, a big red box truck marked “CORT” pulled up in the street in front of Hawk Hill Cottage. Two men carefully unloaded a plastic-covered sofa and brought it up the steps into my living room, offering to position it precisely where I’d like it (I had them plop it down lengthwise right in the center of the room since floor installers were coming to finish baseboards that afternoon).

PROS

When the delivery workers removed the plastic and revealed the used, ex-rental sofa I had purchased sight unseen I had a mix of emotions. On one hand, I was pleased that it was a generally nice-looking sofa, the in-person color was true to the images online, and the fabric was obviously high-quality durable fabric.

CONS

On the other hand, wear was obvious in a way that I didn’t expect from CORT’s “A” rating. Mild discoloration (probably from rubbing against something in the truck or perhaps being rubbed up against a black leather sofa in storage) was present on the back and side of the sofa and cushions were noticeably worn– with some mild but obviously misshaped cushions from wear. None of these were anticipated since the sofa quality was listed as “A grade” used condition described as “may have one or two small imperfections”.

I pointed out the most serious discoloration to the delivery workers who quickly produced a spray bottle and rags to work on the most obvious discoloration – after which the stain was significantly better but still present.

Tips for buying Ex rental furniture

To avoid this quality issue when purchasing used furniture from a CORT outlet or any outlet selling used furniture, try to inspect the exact couch you will be ordering before purchase or call in for a detailed description of the specific condition of the sofa before delivery.

Ultimately, I decided that these minor quality issues could be lived with for the few months that I plan to keep this couch and for the discounted price that I paid.

Closeup of a neutral colored sofa, showing an obviously used condition.

Living with Former Rental Furniture from Cort

At the time of delivery, I was actively cleaning dust from a flooring install while also putting the finishing touches on my book proposal that was due a few days later, so I didn’t have the opportunity to set up and test out my CORT couch for a few days.

In terms of a review of the comfort of my sofa, I’d give it a score of 73%.

Pros: As expected from rental grade furniture, it’s very sturdy. I know when I plop down on it as a person in a plus-size body, I don’t have to worry about wobbly legs or insufficiently strong internal construction of the couch (which I cannot say for inexpensive, flatpack sofas I have purchased in the past). Likewise, the fabric quality is good- while many sofas have a cheap polyester feel to the cushions, the material of this sofa seems like the canvas type covering- appropriate to rental furniture (which has to withstand both rough use and regular deep cleans).

Cons: The shifting stuffing in the internal cushions is both a cosmetic and a comfort issue. The metal bars of the internal “skeleton” of the sofa can be felt when sitting on the sofa.

Closeup of a neutral colored sofa, showing an obviously used condition.

Final thoughts on purchasing used furniture from the CORT outlet

This was my first purchase from the CORT outlet and while I’m not explicitly disappointed, I feel ambivalent about the possibility of purchasing more used furniture from CORT- and almost definitely will not purchase sight unseen again.

That said, purchasing a used sofa from a rental furniture company was a cheap way to get a stylish and affordable sofa delivered immediately. Although the condition of my sofa arrived and was a bit under the bar of expectations set by the online description, the experience of finally having a sofa in my living room, rather than waiting seven months for my back ordered sofa to arrive, definitely made the purchase worth it.