Big Box Retailers or Big Mistake?

It will come as little surprise to my readers that I’ve long held the view that you’re much better off dealing with a professional when it comes to window treatments. I’ve always found that warehouse clubs and big box retailers are terrific if you need 500 rolls of toilet paper or a 50# block of American cheese. However, if you’re researching a product that is primarily a custom order product you may want to avoid the big boxes…and a big mistake.

Here’s my reasoning; it’s not just that their employees have little or no window treatment experience or that they were probably mixing paint or changing tires just before you arrived but it’s more that you aren’t necessarily saving money and may not be getting what you paid for.

Home Source Interiors- Quality Hunter Douglas Fashions OhioSomeone once said to me, “people that buy quality only wince once.” After stopping to think about it I realized that there was never a time when I was sorry I had spent a little more to get a quality product but there were many, many times I’d been sorry that I’d opted for a lower quality product in order to save a few dollars.

I’ve thought about writing this ever since we opened our doors in Columbus more than 6 years ago. Why now? Well, this morning we received yet another blind in for repair that was almost brand new. The tilt mechanism had failed so the slats would not open and close. Upon further investigation our technician discovered that not only were the parts that are subject to repeated wear & tear all plastic but the entire head rail of the blind was plastic. Saddest of all is that this poor young woman has an entire house full of these blinds that a big company here in Central Ohio paid for as part of their “relocation” package. I can tell you this: whomever bought these blinds for this family was not “on their side!” Now I have no idea what the company paid for the blinds (I hope it wasn’t over about $10 each) but I can tell you that every one of these shades that fails is going to cost this young family between $40 & $60 to have repaired. So what appeared to be a good deal turns out to be a real and expensive pain!

This problem doesn’t stop with blinds, shades and shutters but extends into soft treatments such as drapery panels and valances. The best way I can explain the problem with purchasing stock/internet curtains or draperies is to relate a story to you:

About a year ago a woman called our store because she had a whole master bedroom full of draperies that she was very unhappy with. Our consultant went to her home to see how we could help. What she had was over $1000 worth of Pottery Barn silk panels that looked like sheets hanging on the windows. Not only was the silk very thin but the lining was little more than tissue paper. There were no pleats, just some plastic tabs attached to the back that her rod was supposed to go through. What she wanted was neatly hanging panels with fullness to them that would make the room dark when closed. As you can tell from the description that’s not what she got. She ended up paying us to tear all the separate panels apart, sew them together and reline them with room-darkening lining then pleat them so they looked presentable. After the whole project was done I sat down and figured up what it would have cost her if she had just come to us first. The bottom line was this, in the end she ended up spending more than $1800 by the time she bought the panels on the internet, paid shipping, then paid us to turn them into something usable. Her cost had we done the job from the beginning? Less than $800. This client alone would have saved more than $1000 by going with a true custom product.

Occasionally, there are perfectly valid reasons for opting for “chop & go blinds” or off-the-shelf curtains. I did so myself when my sons were renting a campus apartment! No point in throwing good money at two college students that would just as soon have brown paper on their windows. However, in most instances you can have a quality product for little more than the big box option, save on the cost and hassle of repairs…and enjoy them for years to come!