Totally Floored

The kitchen refacing project is almost finished.  I’ve posted a couple photos I took yesterday under my Home Stuff gallery.  Today, the flooring goes down.  It’s the end of an unusual adventure to try to find the perfect stuff for underfoot.

None of my House Proud columns for the Toronto Sun has drawn as much email as the one about Allure flooring.  It’s awesome stuff.  It’s vinyl, glueless, waterproof and meant for high traffic areas.  It’s comparatively inexpensive and super easy to put down and cut.  We have a ceramic-look version in the bathroom.  For the kitchen, we wanted the cork-look.  In fact, we had our hearts set on it.  But just try to find the stuff.

When the time approached that the countertop, appliances, backsplash and most cabinets were finished, I went to Home Depot and gazed admiringly at the cork display on the Allure wall.  “That’s the stuff!”, I thought, and started poring through the stacks of boxes, looking for the ones I wanted.  Every other style was represented but there was no cork.  So I pushed a little button for an associate who looked up the inventory and confirmed that there was none in the store.

“So why not take down the gigantic display?” I asked.  “We might get some in again,” she replied.  “Might?”  “Yes, we can’t order it.  It comes in once in a while and we sell it when we get it.”  “Monthly?  Bi-annually?  Weekly?  When does the next order come in?”  “We have no way of knowing”, she said.  “It comes in when it comes in.”


She checked the inventory of all Ontario and then Canadian stores and came up empty.  We went on the website and it wasn’t even listed there.  Home Depot USA did show it though, so I devised plans b, c and d.

I went on the US site once I got home and attempted to order several boxes of the flooring.  When it came time to check out, I was informed that they would not ship to a Canadian address.  So I called Canadian customer service and in a 30 minute phone call, during which I was conferenced with US customer service as well, I learned that the US division cannot override the inventory of the Canadian division.  They’re connected but separate.  It’s as clear as a chocolate milkshake.  The women opened a file so I could launch an official complaint about this silly process.

The woman at Customer service told me I wasn’t the only one hunting this particular flooring and its unexpected popularity is why they were unable to keep it in stock. She said that one customer was so determined to get her hands on it that she was planning to meet the cargo ship when it docked to unload and try to talk them out of a few cases of it.  That plan struck me as a little bit creepy and highly unlikely to succeed.  I wasn’t about to wait on a dock for a ship and try to negotiate with sailors!

I called a Home Depot store just over the border in Michigan and spoke to the head of the flooring department. “Oh we can order it”, he said.  “But I don’t know when we’ll get it.  Could be a month.  Could be six months.  No way to tell.” 

So we gave up.  We let our first choice go and selected an alternate flooring from the same company and line.  I set out to pick it up the next day.

To my surprise, in the few days since I had been at HD the Allure line had gone on sale.  The boxes were all gone from the back wall, as were the displays, so I set off for the sale area set up nearby.  I found the flooring we had settled on but for some reason, I decided to check out the other offerings just for kicks.  I saw it from a few metres away and my heart reacted before my brain could even take it in.  There, in the middle of the aisle, was the cork display and below it, there were boxes.  Nine boxes, in fact, of the exact flooring I had been trying in vain to find.

Like a squirrel discovering a rare nut, a mouse with a morsel of cheese a….woman with the flooring she was told did not exist, I scurried to the small pile and started loading them into the cart, certain I’d quickly be involved in a tug-of-war over my find.  I bought all nine boxes even though we only need about six.  But you never know!  And any extras can always go back.

And that’s what I can only assumed happened; someone else over-bought the flooring and returned those boxes that were put out for sale just as I arrived with a heavy heart to buy our second choice.  I was positively giddy with excitement as my partner and my kitchen contractor can attest, when they received my delirious phone messages of glee.  The flooring is going down today and I feel grateful and fortunate that – for whatever reason  – we didn’t have to compromise.