[Warning, Warning, Will Robinson – for those who read only for the food history posts, you may skip any posts you are not interested in. I try to title the posts to suit the interests of my readers for their convenience.]

Our quest for materials for the updating we’re doing to the new homestead continues, and we have learned some valuable lessons along the way. Perhaps the most important is, don’t believe advertisements – ever…, well practically ever. While Home Depot and Lowe’s would like us to think they are there for our DIY needs, the truth is, they’re there to sell in bulk to contractors and unless you know exactly what you’re doing and all the pros and cons of the different materials before you walk in the door, you’re better off looking elsewhere.

We are NOT professionals, and do not have an unlimited supply of cash for the work we’re doing. While we have limited experience, we do possess an above average intelligence and excellent research skills so we’re capable of researching a point to death. That means we have already done our homework before buying materials so when we ask a sales associate a question, and said sales associate has no clue and either blows us off or tries to go online to find an answer to the question while we’re standing there we are not impressed. Anyone selling a product should know the product.

Case in point – we were ready to put carpet in the master bedroom and tile the kitchen, dining room, and hallway and went to Lowe’s to look at tile and carpet. We had three sales associates who could not answer our question. The last of the three told us he would send someone to measure and that they would talk with us, give us answers to our questions, and we could decide whether to have Lowe’s install the flooring or do it ourselves. NOT.

We all know where this is going – as we expected, the guy who came to measure was not a Lowe’s employee, but an employee of a sub-contractor who does guess what? Installs flooring. To answer our questions meant we might just not need their services so they weren’t about to answer anything. Also not surprising, the estimate they gave us for installing the carpet was way too much.

Martin pulled out his trusty smart phone and typed in “flooring store” to see if we could get any better service at a local independent company. The first one we looked for was no longer in business. The second we looked for was Wilson Flooring. We were impressed beyond belief with the service, price, and quality they offered. We ended up getting just what we wanted (that Lowes had talked us out of), at a price we could afford, and installation within a week. They did what they said they would do, at the price they agreed to, and they did it when they said they would – with a cheerful attitude. PERFECT. The Mom-and-Pop store may just still be the best deal in town.

The flip side of the story is that we’ve decided to install the tile ourselves although we do not have the necessary saw. Another internet search told me the big-box stores rent tools for DIY projects. NOT. Lowes said they do not rent tools and Home Depot said the closest store that does rentals is some 60 miles away. Again, it was a smaller, local, and more user-friendly store that can provide what we need – and will reserve it for us when we need it.

My biggest complaint with big-box stores has been sour attitude on the part of the sales associates. For so many of them, we’ve found that huddling together to discuss football scores or rapid-fire texting is far more important than assisting a customer and because of that I have adopted the, “If you won’t assist me, then I will find someone who will” attitude. I am not going to plead with someone for information or argue with them about what I want and I darn well am not going to give them my address, phone number, and email address to sell online just to get them to answer a simple yes or no question. Finally, if the store isn’t going to train the sales associates, it wouldn’t hurt them to take some initiative and do a simple on-line crash course on the products they’re hired to sell.