In examining where to purchase your carpet, keep in mind you are likely to hear horror stories about each distribution segment. A good rule of thumb to follow is if you hear a horror story about a particular carpet retailer, carpet wholesaler, or carpet broker, check them out. Horror stories are communicated to try to dissuade you from visiting them. Usually the referenced reseller is making it difficult to compete in the marketplace, either because his prices are low, his installers are very good, or he has a vast amount of inventory available for immediate installation. So be open to shopping around.
Department Stores/Home Improvement Stores
The two largest carpet retailers are Home Depot and Lowes and despite what you may hear, these retailers sell a lot of carpet. While the carpet prices may be slightly higher than carpet specialty stores, the stability and peace of mind that is offered from dealing with someone who you know will be in business when you need them is worth the higher price for some shoppers. The downside is that salespeople are rarely as knowledgeable as those in independent carpet retail stores. Also, installation problems may be hard to fix since home improvement stores rely on independent contractors who themselves may not be in business when you need them.
The Carpet Broker or Wholesaler
A carpet broker or wholesaler need not be as bad an apple as the picture painted by most carpet retailers. They typically buy carpet directly from a manufacturer, deal in volume on shorter profit margins, but typically have good credit references. There is always a fear of the unknown when dealing with a business that you can’t physically visit, but in most cases these fears are unfounded. If there is any question about a wholesaler, contact the Better Business Bureau to check on complaints lodged against the company.
A number of brokers and wholesalers operate in Dalton, Georgia and surrounding towns. These wholesalers, who are located in the heart of carpet manufacturing country, have the first pick of irregulars, trial runs, short rolls, remnants, discontinued stock, and off-shades. The carpet manufacturers casually police these wholesalers by making available or withholding this “plunder” depending upon feedback from consumers. Many storefront carpet retailers from all parts of the country visit these Dalton Wholesalers, bringing with them tractor trailers to haul goods back to their own retail stores. Some of these retailers may be contacted through their own 800 numbers.
There are also local carpet wholesalers who have a showroom open to the public but only sell to contractors. This is a popular option for those who are purchasing a large amount of carpet for a new or remodeled home since it can result in significant savings.
Local Owned Dealer
This person has a stake in the community in which you live and should receive special consideration for your carpet purchase. Furthermore, you will not have far to go for service after the sale. However, this does not ensure satisfaction with this service. Most local retail stores are under capitalized and bankruptcies are not uncommon. Often, the carpet manufacturers who supply the retailer have more invested in this retail operation, through credit lines, than the owner of the average retail flooring enterprise. Even large 50-200 store chains (i.e. Miami Rug, Color Tile) have gone bankrupt recently.
In shopping for new carpet, if the price difference is minimal, consider a local retailer rather than a long distance purchase. If the price difference is substantial, try negotiating with the local retailer using the price you have been quoted by a wholesaler. Keep in mind however, that a smart retailer who makes a reasonable profit will be in business in later years when you need them. A retailer that is not profitable will likely fade away. Do not become irate if the carpet retailer refuses to match your price. Remember, he has a limited number of carpet installation crews and he must be profitable with those crews. He cannot afford to tie up a crew for $100 profit, when they should (and could) be working for a $500 profit. By accepting the $100 job, he has actually lost $400 for that carpet crew on the day of your installation.
Often times, the sticker price does not accurately reflect what you will actually pay for your carpet. So be sure to find out what the price includes and what additional charges may apply. For example:
- Does the price of the carpet include pad and installation?
- If not, how much extra is the charge for cushion and installation?
- Will the salesperson come out to the home to do an accurate room measurement at no charge?
- Can you borrow large samples of several different carpets to take home to analyze colors?
- Where will the seams fall? Avoid seams against the traffic direction.
- Is there a guarantee or warranty on the carpet/cushion/installation?
- What does the guarantee mean?
- Does the price include metal stripping at the thresholds and wrapping the carpet around each stair step?
- What is the charge for removing old carpet and padding and hauling it away?
- What is the charge (if any) for moving furniture?
Before signing on the dotted line always ask for:
- A written estimate of the total price and a complete description of carpet.
- A written copy of the guarantee for the carpet, the installation and the stain resistant finish, if present.
- A sample of both the carpet and padding ordered to compare when the carpet is delivered.