Why I put my cart before the horse.

One of my major headaches with this reno (and with life in general) is that I have a picture in my head of what I want the end result to be, but I have a hard, if not impossible, time trying to make that picture a reality.

Like trying to get the bathroom floor tile - I knew what I wanted, knew it existed, and even knew it was still being manufactured, but had a horrible time trying to find a place that sold it.

So, I tend to buy things before I need them, since I know from past experience that if I wait, the item will be gone, out of stock, discontinued, etc.

And all of the above is the justification for why I have already bought my kitchen tap (okay, there was no worry it would be discontinued, but it was on sale!).  And why I had the lights and towel bars, etc. for the upstairs bath ages before the room was even roughed-in.

And why I've already found the lights I want for the kitchen and dining rooms :)

Which, of course, is a whole other story...

I had a picture in my head of what I wanted - ribbed glass, with a silver-coloured metal - any silver-coloured metal finish would do.

The main issue was that I needed a suite of lights to go in all the areas I want - a large one over the table, a couple of pendants over the peninsula, and something to go over the sink (I also have pot lights (already bought, of course) for the area for over-all lighting).

Looking at the web sites for the big box stores, I found that, while they have lights I like, they either don't have the entire range, or don't have it on their sites.  And I'm not driving 30+ minutes each way to find out if I can get the styles I need.

So, I decide to look at independent lighting stores (oddity: while I won't drive 30 minutes to a big box store, I have no issues with driving longer than that to an independent retailer.  Hrmm.)

St. Catharines is the largest city in this area, and tends to have the most options for items like this, so I make a list of the 4 stores in the area (complete with Google maps), grab Mom, and drive on over. 

We go to the first store - small selection, some interesting things, and PRICEY!  Mom and I are the only ones in the store.  There is a guy behind the counter.  Doesn't say hi, doesn't ask if we need help... nothing.  At one point, he walked out from behind the counter and approached us... just to walk on by.

0 for 1.

Second store has gone out of business.

0 for 2.

Third store is HUGE.  Tons of lights, but no organizational theme that I can determine.  So, trying to look for kitchen lighting means walking through the entire place, picking out appropriate fixtures from all the others.  But hey!  I find something similar to what I want, but there is only one style.  Again, there are clerks walking around, but no offers to help.  I finally trap one at the counter, and explain what I'm looking for and make sure to say that, while I want a silver-coloured finish, it doesn't matter if it's chrome or brushed pewter or whatever.  I take the clerk over to the one I found, intending to ask if there are matching fixtures I can order.  The clerk looks at it, looks at me, and says "But that's a pewter finish, not chrome".

0 for 3.

Go to the fourth store, expecting the same trend to continue.  We go in, I can't find anything like what I'm looking for.  But wait.... a clerk actually approaches, and asks if he can help!  I explain what I want, he says they have none in stock, but that we can look through all of their catalogues, and they can order in anything I find.  He pulls out a bunch of catalogues, flips right to what I want in each of them, discusses different styles, etc. and gives me a photocopy of the ones I've chosen, complete with prices and his card.

Guess where I'm getting my lights from?

Now keep in mind, these stores exist to sell lighting.  They may have other decorative objects, but they are, first and foremost, lighting stores.

Their main competition is the big-box stores.  They cannot hope to compete in certain areas with the big-boxes, but they can out-do them in service and selection.  In this decidedly un-scientific sample, though, two out of three failed, and worse than any big-box store I've ever been in.

And this isn't the first time I've had experiences like this:  basically, I'm standing there, with my money in my hand, and the retailer is making it hard for me to buy from them.

I'm not asking for discounts.

I'm not asking for special treatment.

I'm asking to buy what they are selling, and they create obstacles*. 

This is one reason independent retailers, in my opinion, fail.  I don't expect the clerk in Home Despot to be able to answer my questions on lighting placement.  I DO expect their counterpart in an independent lighting retailer to able able and willing to.

* I have story after story after story about this:  like the shoe store clerk who told me if I wanted to find out if the other store in their two-store chain had the boots I was looking for in my size, I should call them myself (keep in mind, the other store was a 2 hour drive away).  I walked down the street to their competitors and bought boots there.

My favourite, though, was when I tried to buy my car - off the lot, no ordering, no financing.  The first dealership I tried told me it was a lot of work to figure out the price, and that they'd get back to me.  Six years on, I'm still waiting for that call...


  1. Here's my favorite bad salesman story:

    My dad & step-mom live in Florida, the land that invented casual dress. When they moved there my dad burned every suit, tie & dress shirt he owned.

    So my dad wants to buy a brand new Dodge. In he goes to the dealership, dressed in shorts, hawaiian short & sandals. Looks like just some old guy hanging out. Salesman won't even talk with him. Very rude.

    So my dad goes next door to the Ford dealership & buys a fully loaded Crown Vic. Full loaded - every option you can imagine. Pays cash - he had a huge wad of bills in his pocket. The Ford salesman almost had a stroke.

    My dad drives back to the Dodge dealership & shows it to the manager. Needless to say, that salesman was fired on the spot.

    I swear that's a true story. He loves that big blue Ford. Almost as much as he loves telling that story. I wasn't sure I believed him, but my step-mom swears it really happened.

    Moral of that story: you can't judge a book by it's cover.

  2. Mary - thanks for visiting and commenting! And it's so true - I'm constantly amazed at how sales people dismiss customers based on appearance!



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