What does the coronavirus mean to the flooring industry?
How does it affect ReallyCheapFloors?How will it affect our customer’s ability to continue to save money on flooring?
Tough questions, but I will attempt to answer all of them. I don’t know about you guys, but I prefer my incoming supply of information to be wide-ranging and factual. Keep the opinions out, and let me form my own. Sadly, I also take this approach when I am expounding on something. Great for people like me, and for the word counts that my Marketing director asks for, but bad if you a casual reader, looking for a quick answer. Try Wikipedia if this applies to you.
Sometimes, in company meetings, I warm my coworkers: I am gonna ramble for a minute….please be patient. Now, I am going to ramble for a minute. Please be patient.
The Great Recession
I started ReallyCheapFloors 10 years ago in the aftermath of what is generally referred to as the Great Recession. Our family floor covering business was especially hit hard, as most floorings had been going into new construction for several years, then, Wham-o! Nothing. Trying to be loyal, we kept our full staff of employees, hoping for a quick fix. In retrospect, that was a bad decision and was hard on the reserves.
Personally, I lost everything material that I owned. House, real estate, savings. It was tough, but we were able to keep the business.
It was at this time that I thought about how the baby boomer generation would talk about their parents before them, and how the Great Depression changed them. Grandma refused to throw away a paper sack, as she might need it later. They wasted nothing. I imagine the 5-second rule was unheard of!
What a generation of people they were! Tough, unselfish, compassionate, empathetic. Truly the glory years of our country. And what caused it? A tough stretch. The Great Depression. That is when our country learned to get by on very little. And that we did not have to have the best of everything.
When the Great Recession hit, I had the best of everything. Cars, big house, nice vacations. And I liked it. Then, I had nothing. That, I didn’t like.
I became more like my grandparents. I no longer needed the best of everything. A camping trip was as good as a cruise. Even better, in some ways. A small house has much lower power bills, yet I was sleeping soundly in the same bed. Was I undergoing a transformation? A Renaissance of thrift? It was at this time that I started thinking about building a business that sold promotional flooring. Were there others like me? Not chubby and good looking, but people that had not weathered the storm well, and would use a second or discontinued flooring product in their own home?
Being a man of little patience, I jumped right in. Shaw Flooring had a large solid hardwood mill about 30 minutes from my house, and I had friends that worked there. I was able to make a deal to buy their unfinished castoffs for 25 cents sq ft. If you threw away the worst 10% of the flooring and installed the rest, it made a pretty good looking floor. Lots of shorts and color, but who cares? It was super cheap. Soon, I was selling all I could get, and making money.
I was advertising exclusively through Craigslist. First, just Asheville, NC. I added Atlanta, Chattanooga, Knoxville to my posting requirements. After adding prefinished seconds and low-graded inventory to my mix, we extended into Nashville, Birmingham, Columbia, SC. The business was booming, and my wife and I needed help.
It was at this point that we merged my ReallyCheapFloors.com business with my parent’s local floor covering business. This gave me the infrastructure and credit lines to expand while giving their business a big boost in sales. It was a great deal all around.
Each morning started at 4 AM, with me writing Craigslist ads and posting them. Then I would return up to 100 emails from potential and existing customers. Then I would go to work at 8 am, ready to answer phones all day. It was exhilarating. And profitable.
Over the next couple of years, we grew. A lot. Hard work and God’s blessings are an unbeatable combination.
Who We Serve
Our business is made up of the most part of flippers, contractors, and homeowners that really want or need to save money. We don’t sell many seconds anymore, as we have moved more into Cabin grade, overstock, and discontinued goods. Why? A couple of reasons: many of our customers are hesitant to buy seconds, being unfamiliar with how different defects or hardwood grades affect hardwood flooring is one, but the ability to buy enough to grow our business is also a problem. It is kinda hard to call up a supplier and ask for more seconds!
We sell huge amounts of Cabin grade flooring, both solid and engineered. In a nutshell, Cabin grade materials are flooring that did not meet the specifications for the #1 running line floor that is sold by the manufacturers.
Ever noticed that eggs are sold as Grade A large? Ever wondered what gets an egg downgraded to Grade B? I checked. Does it affect the taste? Is it poisonous? No! It can be the coloration of the shell. Or the size of the air pocket that cuts the price in half? Are you kidding me? Sign me up! I will take all the Grade B eggs I can get!
It is the same way with Cabin grade flooring. Nothing wrong with it. Just different.
Now we are almost 1000 words into this blog, and I haven’t mentioned the Coronavirus. Be patient.
The Corona Virus
We are living in trying times. Much of our economy has been lost over the last couple of weeks, and much more will be lost. Several countries have lost thousands of lives, while countries like India and Brazil are just getting started, and it will most likely be even uglier there.
A reset is coming. Not just in our economy, but in how we live our lives. Changes in how we are governed, how we interact, and yes, how we shop, are coming. We are adapting to this today.
While it is not my goal to profit from people’s misfortune, myself and 34 others need our business to survive. We need to eat, shelter, and stay warm with our wages. Throwing up our hands will not be an option.
We Will Not Give Up
ReallyCheapFloors.com was founded and built by the vision of offering value to consumers that live, breathe, and shop just as we do. Saving money is going to be important in the times ahead, as is charity and empathy. As a country, we must worry less about who is right, and focus more on who we can show love. What an opportunity we have to help others right now, In the coming days we will learn that we can get by on less, which will leave more for us to share with others, starting with me. Charitable donations will be down.
We Will Help Those In Need
Starting in April, ReallyCheapFloors.com will begin a program of giving away flooring to charities in the vicinities of our 3 locations in Orlando, Dalton, GA, and Murphy, NC. Certainly, we cannot help everyone, but we can do more than we do now. We ask that each of you approach your future lives in a similar manner. Maybe it’s not money, but the young lady that is a cashier at the grocery store could use a heartfelt ‘Good morning! How is your day?” Or returning a shopping buggy. Or letting someone in your lane while waving with all 5 fingers!
We may not have the best of everything going forward, but we can give everyone the greatest gift: love.
ReallyCheapFloors.com will continue to be open in all of our locations. We are currently virus-free and are taking necessary health precautions while we stay open for business. If you know of a need that we can help with a particular charity, please email us at Terry@reallycheapfloors.com, and we will help who we can.