Friday, March 11, 2011

Product Review-CSN Stores: Sauder Beginnings Bookcase

Howdy, fellow shopaholic!
So, I've been telling you guys for a while now how great CSNstores is. I recently received a product review opportunity with CSN and decided I would make my first product review on the blog one with significance. You may recall my 'TV Top Bookshelf' or my constant bitchin' on twitter about Mount TBR which has taken over 80% of my bedroom floor. I never had my own, personal bookcase before, and now that I am a full fledged bookophile,the need for one was undeniable. 
There's something symbolic about having your own bookcase; it says "I am literate, here me roar....ROAR!", well, at least that's what it does for me and after countless hours of refreshing the FedEx tracking page and organizing my books into piles and categories for easy shelf-transition: the time has come!!
But first, let's start from the beginning!:
Below I will detail my recently shopping experience with CSN Stores. (please note: I was not influenced in any way by receiving the promo gift card towards my purchase. This is an honest review of my shopping experience and the quality of the product I receive. No BS!)

So here's what I purchased:
A beginners bookcase (so fitting)
In a cinnamon cherry finish

Locating products: In terms of product diversity and options in multiple price points, CSN stores rocked the house with this! They have over 200+ online stores (including a store just for bookcases ), so the chances that they'll have everything I need (plus everything I didn't even know I wanted) were extremely high. I was very pleased with the variety of merchandise the site carries. The site is also well designed and user-friendly, so I quickly found exactly what pages I needed to and saw all my options quite easily (utilizing in-site tools such as the price rang slider). I will say that the general price point of CSN is not BLOW-OUT crazy from the bottom- up. I'd say the store is more moderately priced and has a few higher-end pieces, but there is truly something for everyone. The best deals are in the higher price ranges, and with a $35 gift card, the options weren't as impressive as the ones I spied in the 'over $50-$100 range', but that's to be expected and I was pretty happy with what I did find!

Deciding which product to buy: Ultimately, I wanted to buy something I could really use, and since you all know about the overflowing book problem, I figured a bookcase was the way to go. I didn't want to invest too much into some huge, grand bookcase just yet since I am planning on moving out after college and I would rather save a big purchase like that (I'd want to get the mack-daddy bookcase of all bookcases) for when I have my own place. Also, I have like negative zero space in my room, so size, quality, and price were my main concern. As I stated earlier, taking advantage of in-site tools like the price ranger helped me quickly find products I could afford.

Grievances up to this point: I had an idea of the type of bookcase I wanted, and admittedly, trying to stay in the $35 range for that was hard (only one option that matched it), but I was quite surprised with the gem that awaited me. I want to note that the site had promotions like free shipping on just about everything. Sadly,the product I chose wasn't one of them (but if you're willing to splurge a bit-like bump up your budget to $50- you'll definitely find an amazing deal with free shipping!). Also, the product page for the bookcase showed preview photos of the different finishes but had no labels. There were 4 finishes (or colors) and when you select one, it didn't refresh the preview image to that specific finish. If you're 'furniture-illiterate' like me, it may frustrate you because you don't know the difference between 'cinnamon cherry' and 'mission cherry'. I ended up using google images for determining what each  finishe looked like (and they differed a bit depending on store and product)

Comapred to other Retailers: I checked Home Depot, Lowes, and Ikea and couldn't find anything close to the steal I got at CSN. Most decent, basic, 3 shelve bookcases started at $50 and only went higher. Lowes did have about 3 options in the $15-$25 range, but the reviews weren't too promising. And Ikea did offer a similar 3 shelve bookcase/storage unit within my preset price range, but they limited the deal to only one color (a plain white), so if I wanted something, say Medium Brown, to match my other furniture, it would cost $60. With CSN, they offered the 4 different finish options all while keeping the price the same.

Ordering: Ordering was fast and easy and I felt pretty secure. I immediately received an order confirmation email with all the accurate information and estimates as to when tracking info would be available and when I could expect the product to arrived. I used my $35 promotion and after shipping/taxes I ended up paying a grand total of 3.94 (which I can't complain about). Beforehand, I figured it would be a good idea to create an account on CSN and was pleasantly surprised with the benefits. Their CSN Rewards program is great, because you can earn 3% back on ALL your purchases. So every time you buy a new curtain for the dining room or order a nice gift for Aunt Sally, you get rewards that you can put towards future purchases. All the info I could ever need (like customer service numbers, the return policy, ect) was available right on the confirmation page and when you create an account, all the links are available on your dashboard.

Shipping/The Wait: I ordered on Monday-March 7th (around 6pm). Order Confirmation arrived almost immediately. I received shipping confirmation/my tracking info on the 8th (info wasn't delayed and location of my product was visible the second I clicked the link), and the estimated delivery date was the 10th. The product arrived on time!

Delivery/Upon Arrival: The product was packaged very securely and arrived intact and undamaged (it rained like hell on the 10th, but my hot FedEx guy didn't let the package get too wet ;) (naughty thoughts!). It was pretty heavy. The shipping info clocked it at around 35 lbs. I did it all on my own and lugged the box all the way up the stairs and in my room by myself. Do-able, but I like to complain, so I huffed and puffed and damned the steps the whole entire time ;). The box was a tad difficult to open, (I had to use my feet for leverage as you can see) but everything got out eventually and nothing was broken, missing, or scratched.

Tools Required: Hammer and Phillips Screwdriver

Assembly: Okay, I am not Tom Hanks and this is NOT the show 'Home Improvement'. I'll tell you right off the bat that it took me roughly 2 1/2 hours to put this together, but for the average person, they could  probably do it in an hour or so. But I was so proud! I was doing it all by myself!!! 
Feeling like a big shot until I realized I was assembling it backwards and had to unscrew the screws I'd just painstakingly screwed in. I tend to just jump right in, and while I did glance at the instructions (which were simple, easy to follow) they weren't in color, so I didn't realize I should have had the 'unfinished' side of the wood facing down and had to re-do it. 
Then I realized I was assembling it irregularly, again! The two vertical piece are suppose to overlap past the bottom shelf a bit and fit snug with the shelf at the top, so I had one board over lapping and the other coming up short. More un-screwing and screwing ensued (heh) but eventually I got it done.

Finished Product!:

Final Thoughts: I absolutely ADORE My new Bookcase! It does wobble faintly when rocked due to the TV I put on top of it (instructions say the top part should only support 25lbs- but I don't have the room and I never listen to pieces of paper that try to rule my life), and I probably put it together in a less than professionally fashion, but even so, it's holding up nicely and this is a perfect fit! I love the quality of the wood- remember those screwing mistakes I made? The wood held up to the assembly, didn't crack or split, and looks gorgeous. The back piece wasn't wood (some sort of board), but it's holding up well and as long as I don't purposely try to punch it out, it should stay intact. It holds my books and displays everything nicely. It was wider than I anticipate (good thing- more room for books) and it fits perfectly in my cramped room. Lots of shelf space and on the top shelf I have about 44 paperback books with room to squeeze in a few more.

Once again: I love my bookshelf! This was is a superb product (considering the $30 price tag) and purchase experience and I will most definietly be shopping with this company again soon!

And because this is a book blog, here's a close up of my TBR shelf. I try to follow the order I set up, but I have ebooks and review copies I have to read/review first.
I've also fit books behind this first row which have already been read. I couldn't get a full pic of the entire shelf (crappy camera phone) but lots of these books were bought after receiving recommendations from you readers, so if you spot a book you may have recommendation, you can see I paid attention!

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