Office chairs are hard to shop for online. If you use Google to search for “office chair”, you’re in for a chaotic collection of search results and sponsored links. What’s worse, many of these links don’t offer specific suggestions (which I can understand; chairs are very personal). Nevertheless, I was able to sift through some of the mayhem (and a search on Mahalo, which I had never used before, helped me out a lot).
In the end, I decided on an older model: the Steelcase Criterion. My reasons were simple:
- I could get a (slightly used) leather model cheap: $250 on eBay with reasonable (under $100) shipping
- Many, many useful adjustments
- It has an articulating seat depth, which should allow the same kind of forward/reclining movement of the higher-priced current Steelcase models. It hasn’t arrived yet, so I don’t know.
In the hopes that this link will rise to the top and help out other people after this same info, here is a rambling recollection of some of the things I learned along the way:
Good chairs are very expensive, and the leather option adds a lot to the cost. As with many big-ticket items, the gulf between MSRP and street price is huge, and basically a joke–I didn’t find anyone charging MSRP. However, some chair dealers do have deals. Sit4Less has a clearance page with some pretty good deals. I almost went for a loaded Herman Miller Mirra chair that was $575. CSN does not list their clearance items on their web page, but they do advertise them on craigslist, and if you’re in New England, they have a warehouse in Massachusetts. See this link for more information. If you know of more, post ‘em in the comments.
If you have a choice between basic and loaded, you need to know that basic means there are few, if any, adjustments on the chair.
Even if the chair is described as full-featured, dig up what you can. Use the model number, if available, to do a search. For example, the Criterion chair I ordered was described as having fully-adjustable arms. But according to the Criterion specs, the model had almost fully-adjustable arms: height+width, but not pivot. I went into the purchase knowing this, though.
If you’re buying a used chair and slightly obsessive compulsive like me, you’ll probably take more comfort in a leather chair because you can clean it to within whatever your personal comfort zone is. If that doesn’t work, just put it in the sun for 3 hours and tell yourself it’s “refurbished”.
Mahalo led me to a roundup of office chair roundups on ConsumerSearch, which ended up being the most helpful single resource I found. The Consumer Search web page design is cluttered, so give yourself some time to check it out and pick out the info from among the ads.