Shortly after buying the small house that we will inhabit after we do some renovations, I brought a sample of the unidentified hardwood flooring to the local high-end lumberyard. I needed a few hundred square feet to correct some misjudgments by the previous renovator. “What’s this?” I asked nervously as I stepped up to the lumber sales counter. I figured that it was either maple or cherry, but have learned that it’s best to just start from The Dumb and learn everything you can.
“Oh, it’s cherry,” he said, “American cherry”. This caused my heart to leap and fall at the same time, since I knew that domestic cherry is gorgeous, but expensive to replace. And my lumber friend gave it to me straight: “We can’t even make this for you, and I doubt anyone else has it. You’d better start looking for some at salvage yards.” The resignation of the carpenter customers waiting in line confirmed it: my goose was cooked.
Still, he sent me on a long-shot search at a flooring specialty store up the road. Which I walked into brandishing two little girls (which isn’t exactly kosher at such places) and the same dumb question as I laid the flooring samples on the counter. Which got me the same answer, and a short conference among two employees as to whether they could get any of this stuff. They could, it turned out, but only for a premium. They actually apologized as they quoted me the price– almost $5 per square foot.
I checked into the option of finding some used flooring that had been salvaged from old buildings. There are actually quite a few local companies that warehouse old relics like this, but none of them had any American cherry. Still, I swallowed hard as I asked what it would cost if/when they did get any, and was astonished to hear prices all the way up to $15/sq.ft..
Which would have been the end of the line back when I started to work in the remodeling trade. But now, I fire up Google and see what’s out there. And what is out there is American cherry for $3/sq. ft. Plus stair nosing and risers and cove and even shoe, if I want it. But the true 21st-century twist came in the geography. The flooring supply house, you see, is in Florida. But they don’t warehouse the lumber there– it comes straight from the mill in Tennessee. And when I was closing the deal with the salesman on the phone today, he mentioned that he lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And that he’s interested in emergence churches.
Small world, I guess. Or big. Or something.