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Thread: My experience at Lee Valley yesterday

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    GTA Ontario Canada
    Posts
    12,256

    My experience at Lee Valley yesterday

    Well despite my feelings regarding carrying of stock, i had to again pop in to my local store as u can note from my storage box thread i needed a bracket.
    I also decided to buy another lv spokeshave one with the sole rounded.

    After i had printed my order and waited to be served, i proceeded to make a suggestion to the member of staff that was helping me, that the items in display cabinets should not be sold so that one can see the item in the cabinet.
    This came about because i had placed on my list for this associate a list of bracketry that was not on display but in stock (they usually have a sample of all their hardware fixed to boards for one to view. None of the bed fasteners were on display in the hardware section.
    So this now meant the person had to pick 3 different items i wanted to view then delete 2 from my list and someone then had to take these all the way back to their respective bins. From a time and motion point of view i can see why it takes a while to get to the counter if this is what you going to put your staff through.
    Then i mentioned that on walking the ilses of tool cabinets (note the one with spokeshaves in did not have the shave i was after yet it was in stock (limited quantities it said on the computer) i had glancingly counted over 100 locations where part numbers were displayed yet item was not in stock.
    I told the person i could understand they made more money from gadgets and gimmick trinkets however was wondering if they were fazing out tools.

    I suggested that if that was the case we woodworkers can get tools from Lie Nielson
    https://www.lie-nielsen.com
    as they also carry fine woodworking tools.

    The response i got surprised the heck out of me.
    The person said you tell head office we have tried over and over and they wont listen. Then while paying this person said all i can suggest is boycott the store.

    Now i should add that the store is now going to be open 7 days a week like the rest of our retail and the home depot close by this store.

    My point is whats the point if you not going to keep stock at the store.

    Those of you that know me will know i have been a huge loyal fan of Lee Valleys and promoted them here whenever possible.
    But when staff who are actually mature and very able customer service orientated people are driven to such frustration by corporation idiots that will not hear what front line staff have to say one has to start thinking that this loyalty has been misplaced.

    For a while now i have noticed a difference in the vibe among counter staff. I have put it down to changing times or pressures of perhaps poor sales or reduced profit shares (in case you don't know all staff at LV share in profit to what extent i don't know).

    I must say i don't look forward to my visits to the store like i used to. I guess in future i will shop online and use the prepaid return service and wait for free shipping.

    Wonder how long before the stores disappear.

    And before you say write to xyz, sorry i am not doing that. I would hope they internet savvy enough to do a browse each day of woodworking forums to see my post.
    If they not going to listen to competent staff why listen to me.
    cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Ottawa Ont.
    Posts
    9
    Hi Rob,

    Sorry to read of your bad experience. I'd like to respond with a few comments, but would also like to have someone senior follow up with you directly, if you'd permit that. I can be contacted directly at rlee@leevalley.com.

    In the past two years, we have added more high-end core woodworking tools than we have in recent memory. Bad Axe, Grammercy, Erie Toolworks, Benchcrafted, and of course a constant stream of Veritas product. We have discontinued very little. There have been significant additions in other high quality lines - Wera, Festool, and many other technical products from clothing to lighting.

    We stock about 18,500 items in every store. We cannot physically display every item....which is one reason we support our efforts with print, and digital resources. To put that in perspective, we carry more items in the smallest of our stores than you would find in a typical IKEA store.

    Yes, at the same time, over the past couple of years, we have also broadened our line to include more product outside of the the core woodworking area. Woodworking is not a growth market. If we wish to stay in business, we have to appeal to a broader range of the population... And we are doing this, while staying consistent with our core values, and corporate vision.

    Clearly, there is a perception issue somewhere at the store you visited, and it is something we will follow up on. We can always improve, and welcome the feedback.

    Sincerely,

    Rob Lee
    Lee Valley, and Veritas

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    1,367
    Owner of the company followup in 24 hours?

    Says something
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Yorktown, Virginia
    Posts
    5,015
    Rob Lee, thanks so much for weighing in here. I think one of Rob K's points was directed at stock levels at the store. He saw many places in the display cabinets where an item would normally be displayed that were empty. He suggested that display items not be sold. This would seem to be an issue of inventory control, either at the local level or maybe even corporate, if they are that hands on. When all you have left of an item is the display model, it's time to order more...maybe even past time to order more. I guess from a corporate viewpoint you have to decide whether it's worth it to have so much inventory tied up in display at the local stores, but it's frustrating for a consumer interested in spending fairly big money on a new tool to go to a store and see the display empty and the item not in stock.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Posts
    11,832
    Mr. Lee, good to see you are here and responding. However, I note only seven posts in almost ten years membership. Please spend more time with us. As a one time retail store owner I know problems cannot be solved unless you know about them. The people here are knowledgable, intelligent and candid. I suggest, for you, a valuable resource.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Bellingham
    Posts
    2,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Mr. Lee, good to see you are here and responding. However, I note only seven posts in almost ten years membership. Please spend more time with us. As a one time retail store owner I know problems cannot be solved unless you know about them. The people here are knowledgable, intelligent and candid. I suggest, for you, a valuable resource.
    I have noticed that Mr. Lee generally responds quickly to any discussion of Lee Valley tools, especially to any problems, as evidenced by his many responses over at Woodnet and SMC. I believe that his lack of traffic here is directly related to our minimal discussion of hand tools in our forum. Basically his lack of participation reflects more on this forum's main focus which is not necessarily woodworking. Please don't read that as a complaint on my part. I enjoy participating here, but I don't do it for any woodworking knowledge, but because of the friends that I have here. Let's be honest, if you were really a hand tool newbie looking for knowledge you would be hanging out over at SMC, Woodnet or Wood Central. But then you would be missing out on how to brew a good beer and some boerewors.
    Last edited by Bill Satko; 06-05-2015 at 06:24 PM.
    “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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Posts
    9,076
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Satko View Post
    I believe that his lack of traffic here is directly related to our minimal discussion of hand tools in our forum. Basically his lack of participation reflects more on this forum's main focus which is not necessarily woodworking.
    Bingo. I would like to see a lot more woodworking discussions here . . . Oh, and pictures, more pictures.

    That being said, I do not turn and don't watch the wood turning sub-forums so I am the first to admit that my focus is specific and does not take the whole community into account . I do recall joking a few years back that we should change the name of the forum to Family WoodTurning

    As to Rob Lee's response; kudos to him. Operating a brick and mortar store is something many retailers have just walked away from.
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 06-05-2015 at 05:51 PM.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Ottawa Ont.
    Posts
    9
    Hi Ted,

    One of the difficulties with a very large range, is that while we may have stock within the organization ( and we do for more than 95% of items at any given time), it may not be at a specific store. We have literally thousands of items which we would sell fewer than 10 of in a twelve month period. With 17 warehouses to stock, one can easily see how even one in each location is more than a typical year's sales....when someone wants it....it's Difficult to say no.

    We put significant resources into systems that accurately telegraph what stock is in which location. We are further rolling out a major website availability upgrade in about two weeks time, that have both mail order and store stock status on every page.

    Having extensive catalogues creates an expectation of universal availability, year 'round. Just not possible in our industry. We buy from about 2000 vendors, many of whom are small businesses, with lead times than can exceed 12 months. Some, we may only buy from every other year. It is truly a very difficult supply chain to manage.

    Cheers,

    Rob
    Lee Valley, and Veritas

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Ottawa Ont.
    Posts
    9
    Hi Frank,

    I am always willing to participate in discussion, or answer questions, privately, or on boards. Being mindful that I represent a business, I rarely initiate discussion - and often wait for an "invitation". In the case of this thread, another member here have me a poke....which I always appreciate!

    Cheers,

    Rob
    (Who is away on vacation.....)
    Lee Valley, and Veritas

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pa
    Posts
    2,019
    Well I am sure both Robs are pretty savvy business wise. But as a customer nothing is more irritating than to see the item sitting there and have the store(any store) refuse to sell it to me.. So I don't see the problem with selling display items, now when stock arrives the display version should be put back out.

    One thing I see that some seem to fail at is they base orders on sales numbers. They do this without taking into consideration the low initial stock numbers, which mean sales numbers can't be high. I am sure that often is a result of poor inventory control software rather than an actual desire to operate that way. .

    Some items are out of stock 90 percent of the time at some businesses.. or at least when you are wanting an item that is what it seems like..

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