Oct 23, 2006

Bigger isn't always better

Let me tell you a story about why you should do your shopping at your local scrapbook retailer instead of a mega-giant chain store.

I am looking to get the countertops in my kitchen replaced. Being the "thrifty" person that I am, I have decided to ignore the people telling me that I MUST have granite and have decided to get a high-end laminate. I have laminate now and I have had it my whole life. I don't think my kitchen experience will be enchanced, nor will I turn into Emeril Lagasse if I have suddenly have $8,000 worth of granite covering my counters. So, I found a beautiful laminate that looks like slate. It even has a bumpy, slate-like finish on it. It's going to look GREAT in my kitchen and do a lot to upgrade it's tired 16 year old look.

So, just after my kids went back to school in September, I went to my local BIG BOX DIY center and picked up sample chips. Then I measured and drew a diagram of my kitchen so I could get a price. Then I had to hassle them for about a week to get my price. Then, I made the mistake of changing my edge style so they had to RE-price the job. That was my fatal mistake. It's now been several weeks and I can't get anyone to give me my price. The person I was working with is apparently not working very much anymore and everyone else back there can't understand the pricing in my file. They keep giving me the original price with the wrong edge style.

So, after trying to get the price for 3 weeks, I started calling other places. Not too many companies sell laminate counters anymore. I swear, there must be INSANE profit margins on granite because EVERYONE sells granite. But, I finally found a local company that sells it. I called them on Friday morning, faxed them my kitchen diagram and measurements Friday afternoon and this morning at 9am, they called me with the complete price. The best part is that they are about the same price as the BIG BOX. And, they gave me all sorts of additional information like how to put my tile backsplash on after they finish the countertop installation. The big box didn't even ask why I wasn't ordering a backsplash. Apparently, they need to know so they can construct the countertops appropriately. AND, this local company will move faster and have the countertops DONE before the big-box store can even get their contractor out to do the final measurements.

So, what's the lesson here? It's easy. We PERCEIVE that if we go with a chain that we will get better prices and friendlier service. Not true in many cases. What you MIGHT save in price, you will almost ALWAYS give up in service. Have you ever tried to get help in the scrapbook aisle of a national chain? They just want you to buy it and go - don't be thinking THEY know anything about the product or can (or even WANT to) help you in anyway.

Many times, coupons aside, the prices at your local retailer (especially your very small retailer - like a ScrapBiz member) will be THE SAME or BETTER than your big box. And, with those prices comes a friendly, knowledgable, helpful person! Even if the prices at the smaller retailer are slightly MORE, she will be willing to show you how to put new sheet protectors in your album or give you tips on making your holiday cards or let you try out that new tool. There's something to be said for that kind of personalized service.

So, guess who will be getting my money? My local retailer. Why will they be getting my money? Because they act like they actually CARE about my business. They have made it easy for me to give them my money. Whereas the big box DIY center has blocked me from whipping out my Visa card at every turn.

Check out the ScrapBiz member Locator or the ScrapBiz Classifieds for small retailers who will bend over backwards to provide you with top-notch service and great prices on a wonderful selection of scrapbook products!

1 comment:

Pam Tremble said...

Sounds like the president of the Big Box DIY store needs to receive a letter from you telling him exactly how much money his company has lost due to poor customer service and lack of timely attention. Make sure you let them know how much more you are relying on local retailers for future projects as well. :)