The Big Boxes (i.e. Home Depot, Lowes) sell a lot of cabinets…or do they? When you look at the overall numbers, yes, they DO sell a lot of cabinets (measured in the billions!). BUT, when you look at each store, the numbers match more of a “mom and pop” style of cabinet dealer. That’s because each store consists of maybe 2 or 3 designers, and they only average around $400,000 in sales per year each. That’s only around $1 Million average per store. Not too impressive.
More than that, this article discusses the reasons why you may not want to use Big Box stores as the place to buy your cabinets when you do a kitchen remodel. This will stir up some debate from the many Home Depot and Lowes troops that read our blog, but these are the general facts that we’ve seen all over the country.
What it Comes Down to
So why are you better off with a Cabinet Dealer instead of a Big Box store? Well, it’s the designers. The overall key is that you have a better chance of having a good experience with designers at a Cabinet Dealer rather than the Big Box stores. Big Box stores are looked at by the industry to be more of a “training ground” for kitchen designers, and there is data to support that theory.
The fact is, as designers at the Big Box stores get better and receive more experience, they genreally leave and go work at a Cabinet Dealer. There are 3 main reasons for this migration.
First – The Money
The simple fact is that good designers can make significantly more money working at a larger cabinet dealer than at the Big Box stores. There are many reasons for this. One is because at a Cabinet Dealer designer/salesperson has more control over their financial destiny than at the Big Boxes. The designer typically structures the deal AND there is usually an incentive (via commission or other) that makes it more lucrative for the designer.
Second – The Environment
The Big Box stores do not have the environment most experienced designers want. Most experienced designers prefer a regular schedule work week, meaning Monday through Friday regular hours. Big Box stores require non-standard hours to be worked, including evenings and weekends. And these schedules change as time passes, so it can be a major inconvenience.
The other major distraction in the Big Box environment is that kitchen designers want to be kitchen designers,ALL the time. At the Big Box stores, they have to walk with customers over to the plumbing fixtures and help them find the plumbing supplies they want, then over to the electrical department to find the switch they need, etc. etc. etc. Kitchen designers do not like to be distracted like this with a large chunk of their time. Ever walked into a Home Depot or Lowes and gone to the kitchen design department to find no one there? Now you know where they were.
Third – The Efficiency
Comparing a city with multiple Home Depot or Lowes stores, vs. a Cabinet Dealer with multiple locations, there is a huge difference in how each works. The Cabinet Dealer will typically run all operations from a central location and gain all the efficiencies of using all of their resources across the city. So they will have many assets and installers they can call on to handle any job in any part of town, especially in emergencies.
The Big Box stores, on the other hand, work more like independent stores with no connection across geographic locations. In other words, they don’t utilize their resources in the most efficient way to ensure all jobs are done effectively across the entire geographic location. If Big Box location 1 has an emergency at a house and needs an installer to fix it, Big Box location 2 may have an installer just down the street from the house that needs help. Because they don’t coordinate across locations they wouldn’t be able to utilize location 2 installer to fix the problem for location 1.
At a Big Box store, cabinets and kitchen design are just one of MANY different things that are offered. Even though they have skill-specific employees (kitchen designers), the financial and physical environments don’t result in a place where the best designers want to work. It’s exactly the opposite.
Because of this consumers have a better chance of getting the experienced designer they need, and as a result, less problems with their job, by going to a Cabinet Dealer who focuses on one core competency; Kitchens and Baths.