Updated: Sep 9, 2018
Quality matters. Most of us that have gone down the home improvement path are faced with not only a plethora of color and design options for a single product, but just as many quality options as well. I will say it again, quality really matters. It matters for both the short and long run, here's why.
The other day I got a call from a customer that wanted to add more shutters to their home. She said she had shutters on the front of the house and wanted to add them to the rest of the house. I scheduled an in-home design consultation and met her at her house the next day. I was surprised when I arrived as she showed me around. My goal is always to match the existing shutters to the rest of the house matching up our trim options, color samples, and specific nuances to our featured manufacturers. Out of the gate, I was blown away. They had plastic shutters, and have never seen plastic shutters in my life, not to mention I would never carry them as part of my brand. They were yellowing, cheap, and downright awful looking. I gently attempted to explain to her that we didn't carry anything close to what they had. I tried to explain why my shutters were an all wood counterpart to her plastic. I also went through our warranties, carefully discussing how my shutters wouldn't yellow. It was a tough appointment. I suggested she work with the people she purchased the plastic ones from, only to be told they were out of business, go figure! Her options were to start over, doing it right this time around, allowing us to take down her old ones, replacing with a true wood shutter that looks and feels amazing and will do so for the next 20 years, or to walk away. Nothing in the middle really made any sense. While she didn't want to buy something she already purchased again, not really understanding or seeing the quality differences from my wood to her plastic. I tried, at the end of the day, you can't win them all and some people are not "teachable".
Deeper into the conversation, I realized they were getting ready to sell their house and felt that having shutters on the rest of the house, replacing their old and very dirty faux wood blinds would be attractive to would be buyers. While it's true, you'll likely never find a buyer that won't appreciate a well-made and installed wooden shutter, the opposite may happen when a savvy buyer notices the house has yellowing-plastic shutters. I really didn't want my name associated with the plastic shutters in any way. Needless to say, she went down the rabbit hole with a few other shutter suppliers, only to call me back letting me know everyone else she met with said essentially the same thing and that she wanted to move forward with a whole house wood shutter order.
Today's buyers have access to a litany of information. From Pinterest boards, HGTV, design books, the internet in general, and every big box advertiser showcasing their wares, people are armed and educated about what they like. It's also true that most people are looking for a "fair deal" when it comes to most home improvement updates. I can't stress enough, quality matters. I get the fair deal but I also get, from loads of experience that because it "looks" good doesn't mean that it is. Off topic a bit, I was in a big box store just the other day, yes, sometimes I have to shop there too. I was enticed by a radio advertisement boasting quality bathroom cabinets and faucets. and I wanted to poke around and see what they had, perhaps they'd decided to elevate their quality a little since the last time I looked. As an experienced house flipper, and real estate agent, I have seen it all. So many flippers are looking for the absolute cheapest materials to put in their flip houses, what many flippers just don't see to either get or care about is that buyers a smart. They recognize quality. When something just looks good, but the under shell is particle board or substandard, cheap materials, you just can't expect it to last long or to get top dollar for the flip. I am not the biggest fan of "builders-grade" and what is off the shelf at the big box stores doesn't even come close to builders grade. When I was in, dare I say it, Home Depot, looking at the bathroom cabinets, I was saddened by their offering. Every single cabinet I looked at was just super poor quality, by my standards. For me to get the quality I was looking for, we are headed to the "custom ordering" department with a so-so knowledgeable sales associate, but one that really didn't seem to like his job all that much. I asked for a quote on a particular bathroom cabinet and a faucet, definitely not one of the cheap ones they stock on the shelf. Quote in hand I had the information I needed. More on this later.
I struggle with the big box retailers, not only are they my competition, but they don't really "specialize" in anything. They're rather a "Jack-of-all-Products", and finding competency among their staff can often times leave something to be desired. I have also found that the big box retailers offer products of a lesser quality than that of a specialty niche comparable product retailers. Not to mention our lives depend on people frequenting our stores, appreciating our expertise, as well as our very competitive pricing for often times, significantly higher quality products.
Our particular showroom is located across the street from a major discounted furniture chain and we share the parking lot with a major home improvement big box discounter. Many times per day people start off in the big box store and travel over to my store, likely as a "sanity-check" but many times utimately purchasing from our store. We offer a guided, non-pressure experience of our products and amazing products too-boot! We carry only well respected, industry leading window fashions. I hear it all the time, the customer experience at the major retailer left something to be desired and lacked professional experience of the products if they were lucky enough at actually locate someone/anyone in the department that actually understood the product.
Our particular showroom is located across the street from a major discounted furniture chain and we share the parking lot with a major home improvement big box discounter. Many times per day people start off in the big box store and travel over to my store, likely as a "sanity-check" but many times ultimately purchasing from our store. We offer a guided, non-pressure experience of our products and amazing products too-boot! We carry only well respected, industry leading window fashions. I hear it all the time, the customer experience at the major retailer left something to be desired and lacked professional experience of the products if they were lucky enough at actually locate someone/anyone in the department that actually understood the product. w bathroom vanity and faucet, I was impressed first hand at their knowledge and quality. I was also impressed to know they have a minimal markup. They're goal is to sell a lot of cabinets and faucets vs. only a few sales with a high markup, also similar to our model. Their product was better, had a shorter lead time and for me, knowing that I was supporting small-business, supporting the American dream, just feels good.
While the box store have their place, they also carry products that just can't stand up to the test of time. Their lumber is just a little too green, their off the shelf cabinets are made of cheap materials, the innards of their faucets are plastic and not well made, almost certainly will leak before you'd expect them too. Even their nuts, bolts and screws are just a hair below quality from a better manufacturer. At the end of the day, if you goal is for something to look okay but you don't want or expect it to hold up, shopping at the convenient box stores makes sense but don't be surprised when it won't last. Quality matters.
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