We didn’t plan on getting more than three bids, but we saw a place that said “kitchens” on it when exiting the REI parking lot and that was enough to persuade us to visit. The showroom was impressive; lots of setups and a seemingly wide array of materials. The advantage of using them is that they have everything; you don’t have to track down your own countertop guy, flooring guy, or switchplate guy. I figured they’d be too expensive. (no surprise there, if you’ve read my previous posts. “too expensive” comes up a lot.) But they’re very easy to work with, nice people, and so what the hell, sure, why not. We told the nice man what our budget was, and he was only momentarily stunned, unlike third guy. I don’t think third guy has yet recovered. He did ask, “including appliances?” Yes, the appliances too. We also talked about the look we were after; painted cabinets, wood counters, no granite, linoleum floors, minimal overhead cabinets. Lots of nodding of heads, a general feeling of well-being permeated. But when all was said and done, the design he put together had the ubiquitous granite and no open shelves. What went wrong? After thinking about it, I figured that something like the 80/20 rule applied here. Their business would need to focus on doing a really good job delivering a narrow range of options to a significant minority of their potential customers. All the rest of us distributed out on the Long Tail of kitchen renovators wouldn’t be served as well. In any case, with these guys we would need to source the flooring and counters on our own, and we already had a cabinet estimate that was less than their quote, so there wasn’t any point in paying them to manage the project.