An open letter to Lumber Liquidators

Home Blog An open letter to Lumber Liquidators

Several weeks ago, a number of Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI) members contacted me about a magazine ad they’d seen from discount hardwood retailer Lumber Liquidators. One look at the ad and you could see what upset them—the ad’s headline featured a quote from a Lumber Liquidators customer that read, “We are excited to be rid of the car- pet and (hopefully) the allergy symptoms it caused…”

My first reaction was disappointment. I’ve been in and around the floor covering industry long enough to know how destructive and demoralizing the business climate becomes once competitors start taking pot shots at each other.

I don’t know how many magazines ran the ad, or even whether it’s still being placed in different publications, but it’s safe to say that a large audience of consumers has been exposed to its message. Without question, CRI and its members—many of whom manufacture hardwood as well as carpet—feel that this kind of product-bashing advertising is detrimental to the entire flooring industry and runs counter to the business ethics that promote a sense of balanced, but healthy, competition that presents consumers with the benefits of different floor coverings.

But worst of all, the ad’s message that carpet causes allergies is simply incorrect.

I’ve said it before. Research con- ducted independently and on behalf of the CRI clearly demonstrates that there is no scientific link (author’s emphasis) to the use of carpet and increased asthma and allergy symptoms. In fact, when CRI asked a noted toxicologist to find the evidentiary support establishing such a link, the toxicologist, after reviewing over 20 different U.S. and international studies, found that none existed. The full text of Dr. Mitchell Sauerhoff’s article, “Carpet, Asthma and Allergies—Myth or Reality?” is posted online— flooringsciences.orgas part of the International Journal of Flooring Sciences.

Choice is good, in flooring and everything else. CRI’s position is that keeping the air inside a house healthy for allergy sufferers and everyone else isn’t so much about what flooring product you use as how you keep it clean. Carpet and hardwood both require frequent cleaning—homeowners must work just as hard sweeping and mopping hardwood floors as they do vacuuming and occasionally deep- cleaning their carpets. Maybe even harder.

I like to think that most flooring professionals share my view that flooring beautifies the home and negative or inaccurate messages affect the entire flooring industry.

I expressed many of these thoughts in a letter I addressed last month to Lumber Liquidators founder Tom Sullivan, but I haven’t heard back from him or his company. Nonetheless, I urge Lumber Liquidators to abandon negative ad campaigns like this one in favor of selling tactics that are based on its own products’ strengths, and not on made-up weaknesses in the competition. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss CRI’s position with a representative from Lumber Liquidators, or anyone else who is interested. Contact me at

Werner Braun


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