What would you do?
The upstairs room needs a new floor. It’s going to be laminate.
I’ve found exactly the flooring I want for $1.89 per square foot at a tiny family-run business in my town.
Obviously, there are cheaper laminates. And more expensive ones. But this is a good product at a modest price and it’s the type that already has the underlayment attached. So not bad. I’ve looked for it online and, once you factor in shipping, the local price is competitive.
But. I can drive 90 miles to a chain store and get the same stuff for much less. Even after I factor in the cost of fuel, I’d save $100 by going to the chain store. A hundred dollars is a lot of money to me. I have the free time to make the drive. I can combine the drive with other money-saving errands. I can go with a friend, who’ll chip in for gas. The flooring job is borderline too costly for me and being able to save $100 feels like the difference between “should I or shouldn’t I redo the floor?”
Economic realities all say go to the chain.
But. The local store was scheduled to close its doors four months ago. That would have been a terrible loss to the community, which has been fading for years and has very few businesses beyond the grocery-store-and-bank minimums. At the last minute, a new family bought it. They’re nice people who’ve been super helpful to me. They’re knowledgeable. They work like Stakhanovites. They’re also like deer in the headlights, wondering what they’ve gotten into by buying a dying retail store in a dying town.
All the human factors say buy from them.
I’ve talked at length with them about the situation. They say they’ve given me the best price they can, and I believe that. We all acknowledge the realities of doing business in a small, off-the-beaten path community. They say they totally understand if I choose the chain store instead. They also say they’d carry a few hundred dollars of the purchase for a month or two, if need be.
What do you do?