I have a special place in my heart for retail. I grew up in retail and my first real job was in my father’s jewelry store. Sally still works part-time in a jewelry store. I have friends who own furniture and jewelry stores. And when possible I try to go to a store to make my purchases. But it gets harder and harder each day.
The bathroom sinks need to be replaced. The handyman said that it wouldn’t be a big deal. All I needed to do was purchase the sinks and faucets. He suggested that I look online.
I started with the company that made the sinks, Briggs. They were the original sinks in my 35 year old condo. How bad could they be? It turns out that the company no longer makes sinks and I may have been lucky that they lasted as long as they did. Next stop, Amazon.
As expected, Amazon had lots of choices. I had measured the sinks in advance. 19 “ rounds. They are off—white which is called either beige or biscuit by the manufacturers. These are pretty standard. There were sinks priced under $50 and others at $125 and more. Why? What was the difference and did it matter? I read every review and the questions. Now I was really confused.
It was time to fall back on local retail. Having owned homes in the past, I have visited Home Depot and Lowes numerous times. My questions would get answered and I would leave with the tool or equipment needed to solve the problem. Even if my sinks and faucets were a little cheaper online, it would be worth the extra cost if I knew that I was getting the right stuff.
There is a Home Depot around the corner from my office. I found the aisle with the sinks. The displayed sinks, all in white, were high above and out of reach. They might as well have still been boxed. They seemed to have lots of boxes of Glazier Bay sinks, probably a house brand. There wasn’t any useful information on the boxes. I flagged down a guy and asked him if he worked this aisle. He assured me that he did.
I showed him the box for the Glazier Bay sink and asked him about it. He noted that I was correct, it was a 19” beige sink. I was underwhelmed. What was it made of? I asked him if it was vitreous china or enamel. He laughed at the idea that a sink was made of china. I walked him over to the Kohler sink box, 5 feet to his left, that noted that it was made of vitreous china. The Kohler, in white, was $20 more. I asked him what I was getting for the extra money. Since he had no idea, he shared with me that the Glazier Bay sinks were OK but were really used by the people who were flipping houses. He was trying to up-sell me based strictly on the price! Gosh he would have been shocked to learn that the same Kohlers would be almost two times more expensive in the biscuit finish. I told him I needed more information. He suggested that I go to a “better store” and named a specialty hardware store. I decided go to Lowes.
My helper at Lowes was a woman about twenty to thirty years younger than the guy at Home Depot. I knew I was in trouble from the moment that she thought the 19 inches on the box was the inside measurement of the bowl. I tried to correct her, but she was positive. She got a tape measure and found that their 19” sink, like mine at home, measured 19” on the outside. Seeing that all of their sinks were white, I asked about one in biscuit. She was dumbfounded by the thought that sinks came in other colors! She then insisted that I should go to their website and special order the sinks. Delivery could be in only a week or so. I laughed at the thought. She then went to their website and got totally lost. I gave up and showed the salesgirl, someone young enough to be my granddaughter, how to navigate their website and get pricing.
Retail can survive, but it will take better management. Neither of these sales people had a clue about their products. I wasted an hour and a half driving to these stores and wandering through the aisles. And it was my own damn fault.
Picture – Yes, Biscuit – David L Cunix