Difference between hardware store and flooring floors

Discussion in 'Hardwood and Laminates Q&A' started by Flembo2005, Dec 20, 2017.

  1. Flembo2005

    Flembo2005 New Member

    We went to a flooring store and the prices seemed to be almost double the price of what it would cost at home depot or lowes. When i asked why the difference, he stated that the wood and materials here are all from the USA and have been certified clean. Is that really a reason to spend that much more?
     
  2. Chris 45

    Chris 45 Director of P.R. on some deserted island. I Support TFP

    The big box stores are able to run on thinner margins, have significantly more volume, they pay their subcontractors less and your level of customer service is appropriate to what you pay. Maybe they make up a few pennies on light bulbs and paint brushes to offset the loss. Maybe they run at a loss until the local competition has closed their doors. Then the prices creep up. That’s what Walmart does. Destroy the competition then you can charge what you want.
     
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  3. Barry Carlton

    Barry Carlton I Support TFP Senior Member Published

    Chris, you forgot about the fact that the box stores have managed to find all the installers that are willing to install for free as advertised.
     
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  4. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I doubt you are comparing apples to apples. Same brand and quality at both stores? Probably not. Yes, the flooring store will probably be higher priced, but you will get better service before and after the sale. And the installers could be better trained and paid. That's not to say you won't find poor service and supply at a local retailer, or that the installer won't make mistakes, but your risk is lower.

    I live 80 miles from Home Depot and Lowe's, but they were still my competitors. I was never that far off of their price for quality materials (I couldn't compete with the low priced, low quality goods and didn't want to). My installation prices were always higher, but I delivered a better job and better service. I don't believe any of my customers were sorry they paid a bit more for me.

    If you get suckered into believing one of the box store's free installation pitches, shame on you. No one works for free, but they sure can find poorly trained, underqualified, always hungry installers to work for very little money because some of them can't find work anywhere else.
     
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  5. Flembo2005

    Flembo2005 New Member

    I appreciate the response. You have made it a little more clear for me but just find it hard to pay so much more. Where does a lumber liquidators fall into place with stores? If you knkw what they are. Not sure if they are known most places


     
  6. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    Again, I doubt you are comparing apples to apples. Why not fill us in on the details?

    LL? Bottom of the barrel to me.

    Seems your first priority is price. It's always a consideration, of course, but certainly not first, in my opinion, not even second or third. Not when you are talking about a floor that should last 25-50 years or more.
     
  7. Dan Schultz

    Dan Schultz Certified Wood Floor Inspector Charter Member

    Jim, pretty sure it's not just you!
     
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  8. Mike Antonetti

    Mike Antonetti I Support TFP Senior Member

    You’ve made your statement. Do you have proof? Exact same product, exact same installation. Let me see the two estimates.
     

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  9. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    Sears was the original "Box Store" and the newer generation HD, Lowe's, Menards basically use the exact same business model.

    Here's how it works. They have a massive amount of stores and so they are initially pursued by the manufacturers who drool over the sales volume that these behemoths can produce. They do the dance, negotiating until they get product in there. It's all good for a year or so and then it's time to do the next round of negotiations. Suddenly the box guys turn a bit cold, they might mention that competitor X is pursuing them with better pricing and that maybe it's time they change. The manufacturer starts to get nervous because now they can't afford to walk away from the volume. They make a few concessions on price and hang in until the next round. Repeat the previous process.

    The one main difference between Sears and the boxes is that Sears would actually get the manufacturer to the point where they were so much of that companies sales the manufacturer couldn't walk away without closing the doors. At that point Sears would come in for the death blow and say "Ok, Mr. manufacturer sell your company to us for pennies on the dollar or we pull our business and you go bankrupt and get nothing." That's why Sears had so many of their own brands of things because they were literally making product for themselves. Oh, how the mighty have fallen eh?

    Now, what happens today is that once the boxes squeeze the manufacturers down so far you start to see them pushing cheaper built, lesser quality products. Most manufacturers have these. In our industry they are often referred to as "builder grade" or "contractor grade" products. They will vary in small ways from "running line" product. For example on a laminate - the builder grade product may not have an edge bevel, where the running line product has a bevel. Subtle, but none the less different. It costs money and is an additional step in manufacturing to put that bevel on there. You may also see differences in warranty coverage and duration in these products.

    LL is a slightly different version of a box store because they are specialized in flooring. Don't be fooled though, they operate with the same mentality as their bigger brothers.

    Originally they started out selling dropped products and off-goods in wood or laminate. They would buy up any and all of these heavily discounted products from all of the major players. Whether intentional or not I cannot say but there were a lot of people who thought they were buying first quality products at an incredible price only to discover they were buying off goods and had to buy 50-70% more material to insure they could get enough good product to install their floor. They have since morphed into an importer of private labeled 1st quality products. The only thing that bugs me about their approach now is that they seem to try and make themselves appear as a manufacturer of wood. If you poke around on their site you'll see something referred to as a "production facility" that they have located in Virginia. In actuality I do not believe this is a mill but rather a large warehouse where they receive their imported product. If you read through their "About Us" section on their website they finish up with the fact that they negotiate directly with the mills. To my point, why would you need to negotiate with other mills if you were manufacturing your own product and owned a "production facility"? To me it just seems dishonest to imply that you are something that you are not.

    They've had a ton of recent highly publicized issues due to non-conformity with safety and compliance on formaldehydes in their wood import products from China. Prior to that they had gone through a pretty public scandal where most all of their top management resigned or was investigated for embezzlement. They also continue to have turn over at the upper levels of their management as these scandals have taken their toll. But consumers keep rushing in because of their ridiculously advertised pricing and so they continue to exist.

    Bottom line is you get what you pay for.

    For the most part specialty flooring retailers out there can all compete and generally beat the boxes with an apples to apples comparison of product. The reason that they don't lead with that is that in all honesty it's a dis-service to the consumer. The specialty retailer has the awareness and experience to know that those products only typically lead to problems and therefore why start there? The problem is that the typical consumer doesn't realize the quality differences which are sometimes subtle but make a significant difference in the performance of a floor. There's also a reluctance on their part, and sometimes rightfully so, that a retailer is not to be trusted. This one always floors me because if we put that in context with the fact that they are so readily excepting of the fact that the cheap product at the boxes is as good as what they are shown at a retailer it doesn't make sense. Who said so? How do they know? Because you're told something by someone who owns a bigger building doesn't mean it's true.

    Just my two cents. I wish you well with your selection and I hope you see the value in dealing with an actual flooring professional vs. dealing with a kid in a poorly designed colored vest. Good luck and Merry Christmas!
     
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  10. Jim McClain

    Jim McClain Owner/Founder Administrator

    I wonder if it is where the material is boxed in LL branded packaging?
     
  11. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    That would be my guess Jim.
     
  12. Commercial Floor Rep

    Commercial Floor Rep I Support TFP Published

    On an interesting side note, I've actually got customers who intentionally locate as close as possible to a box store.

    What they find is that a consumer will use the box to get a baseline idea of what they are wanting and then when the customer service falls apart with the box store they walk into the flooring retailer and get a pretty big eye opener.

    The dealers who've done this use a little different approach than a typical dealer. They usually stock some products, much more than a typical dealer today, to take advantage of those D.I.Y. consumers who are going to make a purchase "today" no matter what. They tend to focus on keeping knowledgeable sales staff a bit more than some of the others to capture the customer looking for service. The vast majority of consumers, once exposed to a knowledgeable staff and decent customer service, will quickly see the difference and move towards doing business with the flooring dealer rather than go through the frustration of dealing with the box again even if they have to wait.
     
  13. Tom Potter

    Tom Potter I Support TFP

    Big box also has a lot of hidden charges. Charge for tackless, seams, per staple......you get it.
    Not to mention you can give free installation if you charge $25 sq ft for the carpet pad.

    What I've noticed is that there is not much of a difference in price when its all said and done. Just the flooring shops are upfront with the cost and big box hides it other places. When i get customers that are price shopping i tell them if they decide to go with big box to come back to me when it's done. If there's a considerable price difference with there final bill and my quote, I will give you $100 bill. Guess what? I haven't had a claim yet!!! If anything, the customer looses. Mostly with sub par install, unknowledgeable sales staff, and terrible customer service.
    I personally know a few guys that contract for big box. I know they are good installers but unfortunately they have to sacrifice their quality of work to make a paycheck. I can comfortably do 75-100 yrds a day with a good hand or two the right way. They would have to do two of those a day to make any money. You can't tell me there doing that and still maintaining quality.
     
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