That's right folks; after serious research and thoughtful deliberation, it's time to shop. Put on your tennis shoes, bring a snack, and make sure the kids have a baby sitter, because this could take a while.
Before you hit the road, hit up Google for the carpet retail stores nearest you. You can also check out the newly redesigned Wear-Dated Retailer Locator for those retail stores that sell carpet made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber. And you can also visit Costco, Home Depot, Expo Design Center and Sears' Great Indoors for carpets made with Wear-Dated fiber as well. In fact, you may want to start there - they're a little less intimidating, they have a smaller selection, and you can browse without feeling overwhelmed.
In fact, this is where I began. I'll be carpet shopping right along with you in order to more accurately describe the experience.
Before I started out, I downloaded Wear-Dated's Show Me Sheet so I could focus my thoughts - I'm looking for carpet for my living/dining room, I have little time to do housekeeping, I'm the only one living in my home but plan on entertaining, and my style is casual (yet sophisticated, of course).
First, I searched for the Home Depot closest to my office, and on my way home one night, I stopped in to get a better idea of their carpet selection.
I won't lie - carpet shopping is confusing at first, even at Home Depot. [For the record, HomeDepot.com is a good carpet reference before you visit an actual store. The Home Depot TV website has a great video on steps to selecting carpet. It even covers reading carpet labels.]
Image from ThirdwayBlog.com
I walked into my neighborhood Home Depot and navigated my way (via excellent signage) to the carpet/flooring area. The carpet section was actually quite small. Personally, I was glad of this so that I could come to terms with carpet merchandising and understand my options before making decisions. A small office space housed desks and two Home Depot experts, evidently working with carpet-buying customers.
[Note: During this visit, I didn't want any assistance; I just wanted to browse. But had I wanted assistance, no one with an orange apron materialized to volunteer for the job. Be prepared to ask for help if you need it.]
Carpet squares were arranged by type first, then by brand. I was able to look at and touch my options. Signs offered prices per square foot of carpet as well as prices per square foot of carpet padding. I examined each of the carpet squares, first looking at pricing, then looking at the carpet label on the back of each square. [Explore the mystery of carpet labels at the bottom of this Wear-Dated website page.] All in all, it was a painless experience. And it prepared me to tackle my next endeavor - the flooring retail store.
[This would be where Christine's Flooring the Consumer blog might come in handy. She has tips on what makes good retailers and what to look for while you're shopping.]
This week, I did an online search for carpet retail stores near me and slipped out of the office mid-afternoon to explore the first store . This particular store - JJS Flooring & Decorating - is located in south St. Louis. It's your basic flooring retailer, friendly enough, but warehouse-like, traditional and, well... manly. By manly I mean that there were no amenities, no comforts - it was definitely run by and geared toward men. I got the impression that they serve a lot of contractors (a male-dominated profession), but since it is a retail store and women make up the majority of home retail consumers, I had hoped for a bit more. I walked in and was promptly greeted by a sales associate in jeans and a ball cap who showed me to the back half of the store - the carpet section. He lead me directly to the plush carpets, then left me to browse.
The carpet displays were set up around the room, and huge rolls of carpet stood sentinel in the back (warehouse-style), samples of flooring surrounding me. John, the sales associate, eventually returned. He was a very pleasant, straight-forward sort of man. I asked about carpet durability, and he talked to me at length about brands, materials and types of carpet. I was impressed by his knowledge and the time that he took with me. He seemed passionate about flooring and honest about the products. This is the kind of salesperson you want to find, regardless of the retail store you visit. Kudos to John at JJS Flooring & Decorating for his passion and experience.
I'd also like to mention the store's exceptional website, http://www.jjsflooring.com/. Maybe the store itself isn't as female-friendly as I'd like it to be, but the website is well-constructed, attractive, and easy to navigate. It has an online showroom, shopping and interior design tips, and even news about design, products and decorating. Very nice.
My next retail experience took place a few weeks later. I decided that I would visit Becky's Carpet & Tile Supercenter, a chain of stores well-known in the St. Louis region because of Becky's flying carpet commercials that have been on TV since I started watching Sesame Street. [They portray Becky on a carpet, soaring above the St. Louis arch, discussing her latest flooring bargains. Awesomely bad.] So I drove north to their University City location to do a little browsing.
Image originally uploaded by William C. Hutten.
The store itself was pretty sparse. It contained massive rolls of carpet, boxes of hardwood flooring, and two salespeople. One of these, a small woman, assisted me. She was nice, but far less chatty than John had been. She too seemed to really know and understand flooring, and she succinctly answered my questions about carpet, then left me to browse. I didn't learn any more than I had at JJS, so I decided that I needed to move on.
I did, however, learn a few things overall during my first three flooring retail experiences:
- First, make sure you ask questions. Chances are, the salesperson or store owner has been in the business for many years; he or she knows and understands flooring and even has a passion for it.
- Second, make sure you find a store you're comfortable with, one in which you feel confidant doing business.
- Third, ask around. Talk to your friends and your friends' friends about which retail stores they've had good experiences with.
Word of mouth will launch my next round of retail visits. Join me next week when I visit Advance Carpet One, Midwest Floor and Brewers Flooring, all recommended to me by someone who truly knows carpet.
Previous Posts in this Series:
+ The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet: Step 1 - Research
+ The Carpetology Guide to Buying Carpet: Step 2 - Options & Desicions
Technorati Tags: carpet shopping carpet buying guide buying carpet Wear-Dated Home Depot carpet Del.icio.us Tags: carpet shopping carpet buying guide buying carpet Wear-Dated Home Depot carpet