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Has anyone ever told you that sometimes the lowest price doesn’t always mean it’s the best choice for a project?  I know that I’ve heard it from my parents, my contractors, and other designer friends.  I even pass on these words of advice to my own clients.

But with the ease of internet shopping, it’s so easy to hop on-line to find exactly what you want.  And it’s even easier to compare prices from one vendor to another.

We all can think of a few things that we would pay almost anything or do almost anything to have.  And when it’s finally ours we are so happy and excited!  But then there are the other things that we need for our projects that aren’t so important to us.  That’s when finding a bargain really gets our excitement flowing.

A while back, my words of advice came back to haunt me when I did my own on-line shopping.  Let me tell you my story…..

When I was staying in Singapore I bought a beautiful  hand knotted tribal carpet runner.  It’s made with vegetable dyes, which I love, and the colors are deep and rich reds, blues, and ivories.  Imagine my surprise, when I was browsing through an on-line weekly auction and saw a small area carpet in the same exact pattern and the same exact colors.  And the best part was that it was more than half of the price I paid for the runner!

While I was thinking it was too good to be true, I checked their return policy.  Good to know that not only was shipping free, the return freight was free.  Once I discovered that important fact, it took about a minute to hit the “order now” button…and it was mine!!!!

My excitement mounted as I waited for the package to arrive.  Finally, 4 days later, it made it to my front porch.  I ran for the scissors to cut the bag.  I pulled off the bag.  I unrolled the carpet.  And then…..my total disappointment over the purchase.

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You see, what I couldn’t have guessed by looking at the on-line photograph, was the dull colors.  They’re the same reds, blues, and ivories, but definitely not as vibrant.  The patterns are almost identical, but there are many more knots per inch on the expensive carpet than on the bargain carpet.  And lastly, the height of the tufting doesn’t compare with the runner.

By itself, the “bargain” tribal carpet would look great in any home.  But because I wanted to show them in the same room, it just wouldn’t work.  The comparison in color intensity and quality would have always bothered me.

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So what did I learn?

  • If your design project requires you to have two or more items that are identical or even remotely similar, buy them at the same time.
  • If the price is really low, it just might be too good to true.
  • Seeing a product in person so that you can touch it and feel it is a good thing.
  • On-line shopping is great!  But make sure the return policy is one you can live with.
  • Keep a list of what you need or want for your next design project.  And from that list decide what you’re willing to splurge on and what you would rather bargain shop for.