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Thread: Buying material from the big box stores. Good idea or not? Top five reasons not to

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Default Buying material from the big box stores. Good idea or not? Top five reasons not to

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The main reason why the materials are "inferior" assuming you are buying a name brand item, is that the inspection process for the store's material is either cursory or nonexistent. They buy "everything" and then let the customer be the final inspector. If he brings it back, no problem it was going to be thrown away anyway, but if he doesn't then you made a profit and the item was an asset instead of a liability.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    On things that have a shelf life, you need to be very careful to ensure what you buy is still within the products usable timeframe. May not be a problem on fast moving stock, but on slower moving things, it certainly can be!
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    One thing going back to reason #1. Quite often a customer will have a defective item and just return it. Then it is put back into stock for the next customer, but by then parts could be damaged, exchanged, or missing. I have had customers purchase an item, and when I opened it, the box contained a used, or obsolete, version of it.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    DIY Senior Member DougB's Avatar
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    #3) Material that is mishandled. Recently bought some L copper - apparently someone wasn't very gentle in the handling - had to take it back - all out of round - a PITA trying to get into a fitting.

    #4) Parts in wrong bin - you gotta watch like a hawk - fittings / electrical. I once came home with an almond switch, biscut outlet, and ivory face plate - all slightly different colors of 'off white' - I didn't see it until it was wired!

    #5) What you don't see: There are many better components / solutions / products that might help you do a quality job or enhance the job. But if they're not on display how will you ever become aware of them?

    I've extensively remodeled our home over the past 10 years. I research all sorts of components on the internet. You'll never find them at a big box store.
    If a hammer won't fix it, it's an electrical problem.

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Default Top Five Reasons NOT to shop at the BOX OUTLET

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    6) Boxes that have been returned and old parts have been swapped out. I've had customers supply brand new tub shower faucets, installed them and they leaked. Pulled the cartridge out, and it didn't have the same date as the body of the valve. Kohler dates the cartridge and the body for just that reason. Some of the stuff you get at a big box has been returned, sometimes because parts were stolen first.

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    DIY Senior Member DougB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnfrwhipple View Post
    When I shop at my suppliers me and my clients save money. We put food on the table locally. I get great service - often get a good laugh and my chops busted. This is "Old School" - shop local.

    Shop local.
    My grandfather owned two refrigeration/heating wholesale stores. I worked in both when I was in school. I was the 12 year old who knew Nibco fitting numbers wrought and cast, Jarrow Brinda flare fittings. Knew most of the Honeywell numbers too. Was a better edumacation than Engineering at Lehigh U.

    One of the reasons these 'big box' stores exist, is because local suppliers were not available / known / nor try to market to the local DIY'er.

    I see several problems with buying from local suppliers:

    #1. They don't have Saturday hours. A DIY'er can't shop when most wholesaler's are open. 7:00 am till 5:00 pm doesn't work.

    #2. Stand-offish counter help. I've gone into suppliers and if they don't know you, you get treated like a leper. I've really had problems with tile wholesalers. If you don't know how their store works - well that's tough.

    #3. Lack of web site / advertising. It's hard to find a source for say Grohe faucets, when you Google 'Grohe' and 'Your city name' ( ie Minneapolis) and you get no hits to anyone who sells the product.

    Grainger has done a really good job with their catalog and service in their stores.

    Suppliers / wholesalers need to improve in many ways if they want local DIY/retail business.
    Last edited by DougB; 06-07-2013 at 12:41 PM.
    If a hammer won't fix it, it's an electrical problem.

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    DIY Senior Member DougB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnfrwhipple View Post
    So when someone returns something to a box outlet they just put it back on the shelf? Crazy. JW
    I bought a 10 pack of RJ-45 connectors - I needed 10. It turns out there were 7

    I guess someone opened the package carefully, used 3, and returned it.
    If a hammer won't fix it, it's an electrical problem.

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    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

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    DIY Senior Member DougB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnfrwhipple View Post
    Doug I agree but on the flip side customers need to get their #$%^ together
    Look at the logic: HD and Lowes gets a lot of business. If you want the DIY business, then you have to create an atmosphere to cater to these people. Maybe you have a "Retail Desk"?

    Larger items like: sinks, bath tubs, faucets, tubing, fittings, may sell well. I'm sorry, but in this age of the internet - you have to have a presence - you have to have a catalog with pictures - and a friendly, welcoming sales staff.

    The Luddite's busted all the machines - but they did not win.

    My experience, walking into wholesalers in Minneapolis is: Duh, whaatdayawant? Duh well, duh.... I didn't treat customers like this in 1967, and I don't expect to be treated like this today.

    This is why Grainger is so sucessful - even though it's prices are obscene: They have it in stock, and they will deliver it within two days, and they have great, polite <with awareness, completely lacking at the wholesale level> customer service.
    Last edited by DougB; 06-07-2013 at 04:00 PM.
    If a hammer won't fix it, it's an electrical problem.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Since I'm a contractor, I prefer the wholesale desk.
    I send one check at the end of the month. Often times my order has been pulled. I work with people that know the product and the reps. They don't sell me damaged, defective or missing product.
    They on the other hand don't have time to educate. They are there to sell to those in the field, who already know what they want.

    But it's not retail. Retail means dealing with "end users"
    The end user will always need more education and hand holding. I don't need my hand held. I buy in quanity, much of it by the case. I don't have to spend time peeling price stickers off and I get to choose a better product. When you live this stuff, you gravitate towards the stuff that cuts your time and your call backs.

    I do enjoy walking through a home center every so often. It's kind of like going to the candy store.
    Though if I'm thinking carpet and tile, there are pro places that I shop at. I can't afford home center pricing and their lack of variety.
    I don't like to buy lumber there either. I prefer a yard that sells the good stuff. That way I dont have to pick through all the crooked stuff.

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