lumber sales how small stores compete

Lumber Sales: How Small Building Materials Stores Compete

If you drive across North America and start counting big-box building materials stores like Home Depot and Lowes, you might be amazed at just how many there are. That can be a daunting situation for smaller hardware stores from a competitive standpoint. But those smaller, local stores can often provide wood products the big guys can’t. Besides having the advantage of location, small to midsize building materials stores compete in lumber sales by building relationships, offering added value products, and in-house expertise. 

Knowing Your Customers

One of the greatest advantages of buying lumber at a smaller retailer is the capacity to build a relationship with the store employees. Knowing your customers and their needs is key. A local builder might come in wanting a large quantity of 2×4 lumber, and another industrial company might need low-grade lumber to use as pallet wood material. Stocking a wide range of products that some of the bigger stores don’t carry is essential to building customer loyalty.

Offering Discounted Off-Grade Lumber

Smaller stores have the flexibility to provide value-added services or products. One way to do this is by offering a discounted, off-grade lumber product that satisfies the needs of your DIY, industrial, shed/garage builders, and certain remodelers.  These wood supply products can offer much higher returns to the store, which reduces the need to operate solely based on gigantic volume and inventory levels. 

Adding Value

Finally, in-house expertise sets a store apart from its competition. Make the purchasing process as easy and seamless as possible, and help your customers understand the value of low-grade dimensional lumber or B Grade building materials. It will save them money and get you a customer for life. 

By focusing on what the big box stores cannot and giving the best customer service possible, small to midsized hardware stores can stand out above the big guys…even if they are just down the street. There is no shortage of opportunities to provide unique lumber and other materials to an appreciative customer base and increase your competitive edge. 

Looking for a Building Materials Supplier for your small to midsized store? Contact us for further information.

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Lumber on Wikipedia

Pros and Cons of Laminate, Vinyl, and Hardwood Flooring

Pros and Cons of Laminate, Vinyl, and Hardwood Flooring

Builders and homeowners today have a seemingly endless number of choices when it comes to installing flooring. Styles, trends, and technology are always evolving, resulting in a dizzying array of options. Evaluating the pros and cons of laminate, vinyl, and hardwood flooring can help in choosing which flooring types to use, or stock, if you sell laminate, vinyl, or hardwood flooring.

Vinyl Flooring:

Vinyl is one form of what is known as “resilient flooring”, including such variations as luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and sheet vinyl flooring. 


  • Economical – well under $10/square foot including installation 
  • Easy to install – fits together cleanly, and some versions are self-adhesive 


  • Difficult to remove – adhesives used are extremely strong 
  • Can be of variable quality – thicker, layered construction types are more reliable

Laminate Flooring:

Laminate flooring is an extremely popular alternative to hardwood. It’s made using a process that overlays wood-look images on fiberboard backing and can be very realistic looking. 


  • Easy to install – comes in planks or tiles that are designed to easily snap together 
  • Tough surface – the wear layer is extremely durable and stands up to dents and scratches 


  • Susceptible to moisture – laminate flooring should not be installed in locations such as laundry rooms and rooms with drains 
  • Older laminate contains toxins – recent stricter EPA requirements has helped to reduce usage of harmful chemicals in manufacturing 

Hardwood Flooring:

Hardwood flooring, including engineered wood flooring, is commonly thought as the “higher end” of flooring choices.  


  • Durability – properly maintained, a hardwood floor can last more than 100 years 
  • Value – builders consider hardwoods such as oak flooring and hickory flooring to be an upgrade over other flooring types 


  • Cost hardwood flooring is the most expensive of the three types of flooring 
  • Maintenance – hardwood floors must be periodically maintained and refinished to retain their look and quality 

Builders and homeowners have more flooring options than ever before. Comparing the advantages of cost, durability, and overall value will help guide decisions on which type to use for a given application. 

Looking for a flooring supplier for your business? Contact us for further information.

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Laminate Flooring on Wikipedia
Vinyl Flooring on Wikipedia
Hardwood Flooring on Wikipedia

Affordable B-Grade Hardwood Flooring Options

Affordable B-Grade Hardwood Flooring Options

As small and mid-sized building materials stores are further pressured to compete with big-box stores and online sales, one option is to offer affordable b-grade hardwood flooring options to local customers.

Should I Stock Cheaper Grades of Hardwood Flooring on my Retail Shelves?

Flooring retailers all struggle with the balance of quality products vs. affordable prices. These days, customers want the best bang for their buck. Stocking B Grade hardwood flooring can be the answer for many of your customers.

What is B Grade flooring?  

There are a number of agencies that certify flooring grades, including the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association (NOFMA), the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), and the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA). They each focus on certain characteristics of the flooring, including appearance, quality, stability, and hardness. B Grade flooring is a hardwood that exhibits various discrepancies over commonly accepted quality standards. 

Characteristics of #2 Common and Cabin Grade flooring 

The two most prevalent types of cheaper grade solid hardwood flooring are #2 Common and Cabin Grade. #2 Common is also known as Rustic Grade. Both types display more color variation and can include knots, burls, wormholes, and variable lengths.  

Why Buy Downgraded Hardwood Flooring? 

The primary reason your customers would be looking for one of these options is price. These grades can be significantly more affordable versions of prefinished or unfinished hardwood flooring. Depending on the intended use, they can be a great option for many of your buyers.  

But it’s not only price that attracts people to this type of discount wood flooring. The discrepancies shown in these grades are called “character marks”. More and more people are searching for unique looks and the variability in oak flooring becomes more attractive all the time.  

Looking for affordable B-Grade hardwood flooring options for your business? Contact us for further information.

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