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Thread: My favorite store Lee Valley ....but is it loosing its way ?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada

    My favorite store Lee Valley ....but is it loosing its way ?

    Well i have a long letter i sat down and wrote to send to Rob Lee after my latest experience its a long list getting a load off my chest as a loyal supporter. But before i do i wanted to ask you what you thought?

    I have come across "stock outs" on items that to me define the company i first came to know when learning of the stores existence. And this aint a result of the Christmas rush. This is over time and approaching my all time favorite winner of this aware (Home Depot) Yup there i said it Lee Valley and Home Depot in the same line who would have ever thought.

    Then i have come to find that quality of some hardware is heading for the gutter as in brass bits and pieces.

    Lately i have found the locked up tools to be a deterent to my purchasing them. It was fine when i was totally an idiot and just had to have it. But now i would like to try it out somewhat before or at least get to examine it a bit longer than the few seconds expected when its handed to you out of the display cabinet by a store clerk feeling the pressure of the customer line up that is if the keys darn well work.

    And finally i am getting real tired of being bombarded with launches minatures of tools designed for elves and tai chi gadget gimics which i dont want nor need in their flyers.

    We just had a post about buying local and i could not believe i would be experiencing this issue so similar to what Brent experienced but now with Lee Valley.

    Whats your thoughts? Are they losing their way? I will be bold enough to say they are regardless of the wrath the woodworking community would heap upon me for critising them.

    Please have your say but do differentiate between store and online experience. And yeah i know you can check stock of items before going to the store. And i know i can return something i dont like no questions asked. Its not a customer service issue. Its a customer satisfaction issue.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    To Rob Keeble's house!

    “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” - John Ruskin
    “Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” - Oscar Wilde

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Delton, Michigan
    string him up by his thumbs
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
    One hand washes the other!
    Don't put off today till tomorrow!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Kansas City, Missouri
    I suspect they've had to do as most manufacturers/retailers are and add some cheaper manufacturing techniques into their products and stock lower quality or novelty items to keep the doors opened. Now whether they had to or if it's a knee jerk reaction is the question. I think this can only be validated by sales and feedback, so I see no reason not to share your opinions Rob, it will make them better in the end.

    To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” – Robert Brault

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Since I've never had the opportunity to visit an LV brick-and-mortar store, I can't comment on them, but for mail order their customer just can't be beat.

    I've exchanged several emails with Rob Lee over the years, and have always gotten a professional, to-the-point response. I can also honestly say that I have never been less than 100% satisfied with the results or replies to any customer service related inquiry I've had.

    If you have a complaint, or concern, I'd definitely advise you to share it with Rob, an I'd be quite interested in hearing his response, as well.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    new york city burbs
    this is one of the reasons I was happy to retire and leave retail.
    seems no matter what I did I could never make every customer happy.
    Id change one thing and 50 people would rave about my new ideas/changes, and 4 other customers would complain daily to me.

    Retailers have such a tough time now with insurances and rents being off the wall insane. (overall expenses are out of hand these days and its obvious by the closing of all the retail outlets)
    If you dont change with the times and the demands of the customers, you sink.
    Human Test Dummy

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Salt Spring Island, BC Canada
    Rob I for one agree with what you are saying. I wish it wasn't that way but all retail has gone this way. Cheap bobble and gimicks rather than specialized tools.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Ok Bill I am now going to send my NN over to your house. I knew my comments would not come over well.

    Darren i hear what you are saying but here is my point. Old Mr Lee started this business way back. Back in those days i put money on it that things were even tighter than they are now. Till the day i die i wont buy the story that things have to be cheapened to cater for xyz. Allen is completely right you cannot please everyone all of the time. I think LV is a benchmark in retail for as close as one can get to customer service and the staff they have are committed in my view. My issue lies with the demographic they targeting now and the shift in priority of stock. This view has not been formulated overnight or from a single experience.

    Jim i too have written to Rob before and had good feedback and will forward via email my letter i wrote today for his review. It will be interesting to see if I get the stock Public relations coporate response to the points i raise or a candid reply. I like it uncoated but my bet is the people around the table will ensure its got oil on and slippery.

    Hey at the end of the day its their business and lets remember they in it to make a buck. But i would like them to be true to what they do stock. If not they should not be surprised when i shop somewhere else.

    I know it aint fair to directly compare Lie Nielson to Lee Valley but he aint started stocking home depot like tai chi led this and that but not keeping something as basic in stock.

    Thanks for those who replied i appreciate hearing your view.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Oceanside, So. Calif. 5 mi. to the ocean
    I think the nearest Lee Valley is over 2,000 miles from me. Therefore I do not shop the stores; I shop and purchase using the web or by telephone.

    My reaction to Lee Valley is that they are excellent. Every time I purchase something from them, I comment to Myrna something like, "Now that's the way to run a business!"

    The Veritas tools give me no problems. The Veritas planes that I own are so much easier to adjust and use than any other planes I have owned or used, I don't know why anyone would buy anything else. The Lie Nielsen planes are beautiful. They are well made. However, I can use my Veritas so much better---example: I can put a new blade in a plane and be using it long before you can put the blade in the Nielsen, let alone get it adjusted to use. A microscopic adjustment to the plane iron takes 3-4 seconds. You know exactly what the change will do to your work technique. You don't have to juggle things back and forth. Nothing comes loose so you have to start all over. Etc!

    I love the wooden plane with Hock iron that Toni Ciuraneta made for me. It is the one I tend to use the most. However, it is an entirely different game. Part of the reason I use it the most is because I leave it out on the bench while I work. The other planes I own (3 Veritas, a Stanley block plane, a wooden shoulder plane ((forget the brand)), and a very small plane that I cannot remember the name of either) are in my plane cabinet. I get them out for more specific tasks or if I want several planes out at once. And I have to admit that I use it a lot because Toni made it.

    I really wish we had a local Lee Valley Store!!!!!!!

    I think you might have guessed by now that I am entirely happy with Lee Valley.


    Last edited by Jim C Bradley; 12-30-2011 at 04:24 AM.
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    London, Ontario
    "Stock Outs" ?? I haven't noticed any discontinued items, at least, nothing springs to mind.

    I've never felt rushed by the staff in my store. But then, I do try to shop during non-busy times. That is, I try to avoid Saturday and December, at least for any "browsing" shopping. (but as a completely side note, I do that in Home Depot also. On a Thursday at 8am Home Depot is remarkably quiet, and I have very good experience with getting knowledgeable helpful people there!)

    Sorry, Rob, I 'm just not seeing it.
    There's usually more than one way to do it... ........

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