In another thread a discussion came up about "big box" retailers vs. mom and pop supply houses. It got me thinking and I'd like to see where you buy your supplies.
I buy as much as I can from a local supply house because I need them to stay in business. They carry a lot of items Home Depot doesn't carry. HD would make you special order and time is money. Some items the supply house is even a good bit cheaper than HD or Lowes.
On the other hand, I can't afford to buy 10, 12, or 14 awg romex from the supply house. Last I checked, HD was $46 per 1000ft on 14/2 or $11.50 per 250ft roll. My supply house is $75 per 1000ft. That's way too much profit to give up and my supply house understands. Also, my HD will give you an additional 5% off if you can take a full pallet of wire.
On panels, if you buy enough of them, the manufacture will give you a rebate to stick with their brand. The supply house is the only way to get that and it helps to make up the diference in price. But if you only use a couple of panels a month, HD or Lowes is much cheaper than the supply house.
Also, I get 2 frequent flyer miles for every dollar I spend at HD. But the supply house gives 2% off if I pay by the 10th.
Where do you shop and why?
[This message has been edited by Electric Eagle (edited 01-25-2003).]
Most of the work I do is residential, and I buy most of my material at either the orange or blue "Big Box" stores. Prices are better than the supply houses, and the stores are everywhere, so I can usually stop by one on the way to the job. For wire, breakers, panels, boxes, etc. they can't be beat....
A real electrical supply house is needed when things get a little unusual, and I need something out of the ordinary, like anything for 3 phase, or a replacement motor or something. Even then, I can often do better at a place like W. W. Grainger than an electrical supply house.
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21005 01/25/0312:19 PM01/25/0312:19 PM
Yeah - I didn't mean to take such an offensive stand in that post either but I do try to support the little guy as much as I can. And not just in my business life. In all aspects...but sometimes, also being one of the little guys - I have to do what's best for my wallet too.
I pretty much go to CED, occasionally to Loeb and to HD for particular things or if its the closet thing available. I WILL NOT go Lowe's unless I am in a serious bind. And HD isn't some monster company trying to run mom and pop out of town. Try going as a consumer who knows little to nothing to a supply house to get a piece of hardware - people who know what they are talking about aren't always the friendliest to the person who doesn't...and unlike Lowe's, Home Depot doesn't build and open a new store on every empty lot they find...here in Columbus there are probably four Lowe's to every 1 HD.
Think about this...where do you go for groceries? Tires? Dinner? Sporting Goods? Office Supplies? Do you go to Office Max, or do you go to Bob's Office Supply Store, do you go out to the local pizza shack or do you go to Chili's? Mom and Pop are in every aspect of our lives and if you support them one way or another as much as you can - you should never feel guilty or be made to feel guilty for going to the big guy once in awhile to cut yourself a break...
that's all I'm trying to say...
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21006 01/25/0312:32 PM01/25/0312:32 PM
I am as loyal to my local supply house as I can afford to be. They are the only electrical supply house with in 40 miles of me and I would like to see them stay in business. They only carry Siemens ITE loadcenters and breakers because they are a distributor for Allen-Bradley and AB doesn't allow their distributors to rep brands that manufacture competing motor control equipment. I have spent around $15,000.00 annually on Siemens equipment and have been on a "rebate" program on my pricing. Until this month. Siemens has withdrawn their "rebate" program through my supply house. Now, at my supply house, an ITE copper buss MB 200A 30/40ct contractor pack which includes (6) 1P 20A CBs, (1) 2P 30A CB and (1) 2P 50A CB costs me $141.55. The same contractor pack at HD is $119.49. An ITE copper buss 200A MB 40ct panel at my supply house is $171.77. The exact same panel at HD is $124.50. That's a significant price gap! The HD price on 1 and 2 pole CBs is also about 25% below my supply house. When I look at the fact that I'll buy between 30 and 50 of these loadcenters this year as well as the breakers to go in them the savings at HD are significant. Somewhere between $800.00 and $1500.00 per year. But I need my supply house for all those large bolt-in panelboards, BL and BQ breakers, switchgear and transformers. My supply house stocks less and less every year but they are one of 17 branches in the tri-state area and transfer between branches nightly so I'm usually never more than a day away from getting something I need. And as I said before, they are an AB rep and 99% of the farms and factories are full of AB motor controllers here. They've got that market sewed up. As far as the Romex price issue, there are 3 lumber yards in town that beat my supply house on Romex by 25-40% any day of the week. When I need it I buy it where it's cheapest. My supply house can just suffer along with the $70,000.00 I spend with them for everything else yearly.
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21007 01/25/0312:59 PM01/25/0312:59 PM
No hd or the like here until about 6 mos ago. most of the"move in contractors" use them. Other than 12/2 I've not found anything drastically cheaper at hd. Siemens loadcenters,I can get 3.00 cheaper at my supply house, 97.00 for 200a 40sp main breaker,copper buss.Hd store is wrong direction for 90% of my work,can't justify the driving time and effort. Plus I'm a bit of an old fogey, In my growing up years, you did business face to face with people you knew.My supply house still does business this way,even tho they are a chain, Service and accomadation are still king in my book!
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21008 01/25/0301:15 PM01/25/0301:15 PM
Most of the work I do is service calls and warranty work. I did over 1000 miles last week, so I have to get stuff all over; the big orange box is fast and convenient. They have a lot of odds and ends that I need.
We have accounts at the big chains but I have to order thru my purchasing dept. and that makes it to slow.
Also the orange box is open late; some in my area are 24 hrs.
Bob Badger Construction & Maintenance Electrician Massachusetts
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21009 01/25/0301:48 PM01/25/0301:48 PM
I usually buy from my local supplier. I can get all the material for say a 100 amp service revamp for $145.00 complete. HD or the L@#$ cant even come close. For example for a 20 space 100 amp MB panel, HD and Lowes are competive at about 65-70 dollars but I get that same panel for 35 at my suppliers. Breakers I get another special 15 and 20 amp breakers 2.40 and 4.70 for two-poles up to 60 amps 80 to 125 2-poles is $15.00 each, but I have done business at the same supplier for almost 20 years. I bought one panel from Home depot, brand new out of the box, on a revamp got everything installed, except there was NO Bonding strap, I was so frustrated I never went back there again.
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21010 01/25/0302:16 PM01/25/0302:16 PM
I kind of laughed when I read your post about HD not opening a store on every vacant lot. Here in Atlanta it's the opposite. I have 6 HD's within 5 miles of me and 2 Lowes. That said, Atlanta is the home of Home Depot. Niether has any employees that could tell you how to wire a 3 way switch, good for me bad for the customers.
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21011 01/25/0304:57 PM01/25/0304:57 PM
I rarely hit the HD or BLOWES. Only if in a real hurry and they are real close. I do price out there products though. And that has made my suppliers tighten up a bit. I rarely buy less than 20Kft romex at a time and the same goes for devices and distribution. I keep the shop loaded at all times for the resi jobs. Load the trucks in the morning and let the guys work all day. Trips = less profit. Some times the supply houses call me for stuff!
The commercial jobs we purchase items as needed since materials differ from job to job. But we still keep the commercial job trailer load with 3000ft of pipe, connectors, mc, boxes, 10Kft of THHN and such.
By stocking so much the suppliers keep the prices low and they know i'll pay on time. And when I need that 30A 3phase boltin breaker at 11pm. Theyll let me in to get it. Means a lot!
I use two supply houses. One is an independent and carries GE Siemens and P&S. The other is a Winlectric chain store which carries SqD and P&S. I go to cook outs with the guys and go fishing from time to time with em too. I have good luck with both suppliers i guess!
Now if i could just get the lighting store to get there crap together. I loose more money on their junk than anyone else. Broken pieces, missing items and the such. What a pain!
Re: Where do you shop and what do you pay?#21012 01/25/0305:36 PM01/25/0305:36 PM
Here in NYC, Home Depot is the biggie. They're horrendous - merchandise is thrown around all over the place, you can never find anything -- and they never have what you need.
There are only two Lowes stores - both in the suburbs. I visited one on New Years Day (out in New Jersey somewhere). It was pretty clean and orderly in stark contrast to the Home Depots. Maybe the fact that it was a holiday after a holiday probably helped. But I still wouldn't trust any of the guys who work there to give me any lessons on electrical.
In New York City the lighting stores are mostly operated (and probably owned) by Chinese folks.
I don't know if they're a sort of underground chain or they buy from the same suppliers or what, but you find some weird imported things like some lamp holders or cord switches that are not made or sold by domestic brands (Leviton, Eagle, etc.).
The prices differ slightly but the products are baiscally all the same and the layouts are all strangely similar. The names on the stores are all different (Village Lighting, Soho Lighting, Lighting Plus, etc.)
You can tell that some of these components are not for the NEMA market because they have Nemko (Norway), Demko (Denmark), VDE (Germany), Dentori (Japan) and other such certification authority marks. Most are not UL listed.