The flooring business has changed in the past 20 years, resulting in savvy customers and many choices in natural and synthetic products.
Towne Flooring and Kitchen co-owner Michael Archer has seen the changes in the industry.
“It used to be you would have about 75 percent carpet and about 25 percent other flooring choices — mostly vinyl,” Archer said. “But now we do about 35 percent in carpet and the rest of the flooring is wood, laminate, vinyl and stone. There are so many choices now. You can get a laminate that looks just like real wood with the grain in detail.”
Archer said the customer has changed as well. There was a time, when his family first entered the flooring business, in which investors would speculate on real estate. Many houses were purchased with the intent to resell them for a profit.
“Back then we would get a contract to do a whole house in beige carpet,” Archer said. “A couple of months later, a new homeowner would come in and shop for carpet. We already had the measurements, because we had just installed carpet in that house.”
According to Archer, most upgrades are now made by homeowners who are interested in a long-term investment and personal comfort.
“The customer is much savvier now than they used to be,” Archer said. “You have HDTV (a do-it-yourself television network about home improvement) and Lowes and Home Depot, and the Internet. Now, people can look up anything. They come in and pretty much know what they want.”
The flooring consumer is more concerned with value and cost than they were when Archer first began selling flooring, he said.
“People do not charge their flooring nearly as much as they used to,” Archer said. “A lot of people have the money they need to do the renovation. Gone are the days of charging and no money down — no payments for three years. People understand that credit is not good and will cause debt.”