Purchase Mini Blinds Online Or Local?
May 31, 2010 11:39 AM   Subscribe

There is about a $200 difference between the online price of mini blinds for six windows and the estimate of a local merchant -- same manufacturer, same specs, etc. Have you ever made this choice?

I like the idea of buying locally. The merchant will measure my windows and install. I like that, although I can do it myself. But I also like $200. What is your experience and advice?
posted by partner to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Getting them measured (yeah, not too hard but needs lots of precision, and some people don't trust themselves) and installed (not everyone has a drill even), would be worth more than $200 to many people.
posted by Some1 at 11:44 AM on May 31, 2010

If you have the money to spare, it's nice to have someone else handle it. Plus if anything goes wrong, you have recourse. If you do it yourself and measure or install incorrectly, you're on your own.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:52 AM on May 31, 2010

I recently purchased a house and put new blinds on all the windows. If you are slightly handy, I would recommend buying online. Be sure to measure the width of the window at the top and at the center/bottom. Depending on the age/quality of construction, you may find that the measurements are slightly different. Obviously order for the smallest width.

All you need is a drill and a little bit of patience. Good luck!
posted by dbbaily at 11:53 AM on May 31, 2010

Did you shop for the blinds at said merchant? Did they give you good advice?

If so, you should shop there. Expertise is valuable, and you should pay where you play.
posted by mhoye at 11:56 AM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're not comparing apples to apples. The local merchant not only pays for his bricks and mortar store and the cost of serving you on demand, but also including his labor to measure and install, at less than $30/window. What is his cash and carry price for the blinds? Subtract that from his measured and installed price to see the labor costs, and compare that to the value you place on your own time and your confidence in your expertise. I bet his measure and install price will look pretty competitive. I'm not saying you'll necessarily choose to have him do the work instead of doing it yourself. only you can make that calculation. But you haven't really seen his labor price, as you've presented the data.
posted by TruncatedTiller at 12:23 PM on May 31, 2010

Give the merchant a chance to match the offer without measuring and installation.

If you shopped at the merchant I personally think you should make a good-faith attempt to buy from them. Online stores undercut merchants precisely because they don't have to provide the overhead (stock, a retail store, staff) that merchants offer to potential customers; if people use this in bad faith the merchants will be forced to stop offering it. If he can't bring the price to within a reasonably close level, though, then the online models are going to defeat him in the end and he needs to adapt, and it's not your responsibility to keep him afloat.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:24 PM on May 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

If the merchant measures, gets the blinds, but they don't fit -- the merchant should replace them with blinds that fit.

If you mismeasure, get the blinds, but they don't fit -- you get to do it all over again and pay all over again.
posted by amtho at 1:36 PM on May 31, 2010

We went through the same decision-making process. The answer, for us, was Costco. They give you a form with measuring instructions, you measure, bring back to the store, pay, and your blinds come to you in about three weeks by UPS. Costco - I believe - will refund anything that doesn't work out for you, even if it is your mistake, but we found the measuring process very simple and had no problems through three orders totaling about 20 sets of blinds.

The thing I like about our Costco blinds is the mounting system. We went to a couple of other places, and the hardware the Costco blinds use is very simple and secure (it is a kind of clip, rather than a sort of hook, though I'm not doing much justice to either description.)

We saved a lot of money - I'd guess about 30-40% over the local blind guys. The one hassle was that we had to go to Costco, get the blind order/measurement form (make sure you grab extras in case you mess one up), make the measurements, then go back to Costco with the filled-out form to pay. It would seem more efficient to be able to download the form and place the order online, but I couldn't find any way to do that.

(Added: It looks like Costco is currently offering a rebate on some blinds orders: http://www.memberblinds.com/)

(Added, two: The company that makes the Costco blinds is called Graber. Here's the website:
posted by soulbarn at 2:15 PM on May 31, 2010

We got all our blinds online from selectblinds.com. Their customer service is fantastic; the blinds are great and about half-price of what they would have been through a local distributor. Assuming that you're a fully functional adult, you should be able to easily take all measurements and install the blinds yourself.
posted by halogen at 3:47 PM on May 31, 2010

...and your blinds come to you in about three weeks by UPS.

If I recall correctly, ours got upgraded to overnight delivery for free. Also, we had previously ordered a bunch of free samples from the site to make sure we're buying blinds that would match the ones that had already been installed in other rooms.
posted by halogen at 3:49 PM on May 31, 2010

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