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sur la table or Williams-Sonoma

If you had to choose between these two stores, which one and why.

I find Williams-Sonoma to be more expensive than sur la table, but I think Williams has better customer service.

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  1. While I like both, I have to give Sur La Table the edge - they just have much more merchandise and brands than WS. And it's a more fun place to shop - you can get a bunch of little things for $1-$2, and there's always a clearance shelf. I've found the service to be good also, but I guess that could be location/person/time of day specific.

      1. I've always liked Sur La Table, since frequenting their original store in the Pike Place Market (Seattle) in the 1970s. I liked their large selection of small tools. It always has seemed more like a place for practical kitchen equipment than for expensive gifts. In recent years, however, they seem to be more like W-S, that is, "precious."

        With the closing of their downtown San Francisco store, I don't go to SLT much anymore. Online shopping has made the loss less important than it would have been. I get the SLT catalog, but buy from it only rarely, as it is not comprehensive. W-S, never. Part of that is brand loyalty, I suppose.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GH1618

          SLT is in SF Center, 5th and Market.

          1. re: mwhitmore

            Also in the Ferry Building. I liked the one in Maiden Lane. I did go the Ferry Building store recently, and to the one in Walnut Creek awhile back, but neither is in a good location for me.

        2. Have found that while the previously fabulous return policy at WS has gone south, still their super sales can be amazing. l tend to go to SLT for specific items, like the giant ice cube trays.

          14 Replies
          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Agree on the WS return policy. At my local WS manager did absolutely positively everything possible to not process a return. It became comical. Eventually she relented but I could tell she very much did not want that return processed. Mr. CB bought something bright and shiny and crazy expensive, I returned it immediately unused and in the original packaging, I wasn't trying to return a questionable item.

            I do love their sale table and have gotten some great deals.

            1. re: cleobeach

              glad to know it's not just me. i ran into a TON of resistance when i returned a Vitamix to W-S recently (about 10 days after i bought it because i was really unhappy with several aspects of its performance). the salesperson and the store manager were jumping all over me with questions and skepticism, challenging everything i said and trying to change my mind. it actually pissed me off enough to deter me from shopping there again.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                And I have had exactly the opposite experience. Had some quality problems with the liner of the All-Clad Slow Cooker about a year after I purchased it and WS replaced the entire unit - all handled over the phone.

                I shop both stores - depending on special offers. I, too, fondly remember shopping at the original SLT and still enjoy browsing that shop. WS sometimes has a bit more "polish" or I believe a reader above described it as being "precious" - but sometimes I like that.

                1. re: libstewart

                  Maybe they can more easily return the item to the manufacturer (in this case, All-Clad), then they can to another (Vitamix).

              2. re: cleobeach

                Me too. Factory sealed, <30 days...got tons of flack.

                1. re: JavaBean

                  I really don't understand this kind of WS attitude when the return policy clearly states:
                  "At Williams-Sonoma, we take great pride in the quality and craftsmanship of our products. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase for any reason, please return the item for an exchange or refund of the merchandise value."

                  I had a run-in once at one of their stores that got pretty nasty. I'm not sure why great customer service is on a case-by-case basis at WS.

                  1. re: emily

                    I certainly don't know "why" it is this way anymore, but I did work at WS years ago and things did change dramatically when I was there. But for a few hours a week in exchange for 40% off I was happy with the whole thing.

                    First: Let me just put out there that there is a tremendous amount of fraud with returns. It was common for people to return items to WS that were clearly never purchased as WS. People would return pan sets (say from All-Clad) that were combinations of pans that WS never carried as a set (most manufactures make specific combinations for specific chains so a 10 piece set at WS versus Bed Bath and Beyond don't contain the same 10 pieces). People would return designs of Le Creuset that WS never carried.

                    But we always returned them with the closed SKU we could find in exchange for store credit or help them ship them back to a vendor for a replacement if it was a vendor we sold.

                    People could return things from decades ago and we would swap it out for the most similar item still on our shelves.

                    But there was an abrupt change to that policy (this was probably 12-15 years ago now, I can't remember exactly, it was a while ago). I think it was due to a change in incentive structures for our Regional and Store Managers.

                    Returns come off the store's bottom line and the bottom line was used to determine how well managers were doing. So if you bought something at store A and returned it to store B - store A was getting credit for the sale but store B was getting dinged for the return.

                    So we had to ask all these questions that we never had to ask. If they had the receipt we had to call the store and have the other store handle the return over the phone so it was in their system not ours and even bill the return shipping to the other store. It was a ton of paper work and definitely a huge change in customer service.

                    But that was in my experience when the change happened. And WS actually has many many employees (hourly sales people) that have been with the company for very long periods of time (which is a good thing for WS) but I think some of the differences are based on when people started working for WS.

                    I have no idea how their return policy is now, I don't really ever shop there anymore.

                    1. re: thimes

                      "[I]ncentive structures for our Regional and Store Managers"

                      That concept alone sounds like a problem to me.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        I was in retail and eventually regional management for many years and the concept is nothing new.
                        Our bonuses,stipends, even company vehicles was dependent on everything from shrink,net earnings,refunds,worksman comp,slip and falls,turnover and yes Returns which we were encouraged to prevent by "Excellent customer service",technicalities or outright refusal...... which would in turn impact CSI.

                      2. re: thimes

                        I have no problems at all with stores limiting returns to items and sets actually purchased there. Sadly people abuse liberal store return policy all the time.

                        1. re: rasputina

                          Having spent about 40 years in retail in table top and kitchen ware salesperson, buyer, and department manager. Some of the things people have returned, or tried to, was mind boggling.
                          One tried to return a stick blender cobbled together from 2 different blenders. She probably bought it at a garage sale. There was one guy who tried to return an Aerolatte. It did not work he said. He tried this more than once. He was swearing that the thing had to be defective. His battery was dead. He tried to protest that it could not be the battery, his battery was rechargable. It took replacing his battery with a fresh one to convince him. Another priceless one was a bride who was returning some gifts broke a china dinner plate just in front of the store. She brought it in anyway and wanted us to issue a credit to her for something else because it was broken on store property. I never got that reasoning, but the answer was we are so sorry but we cannot take it back. It must be in original condition. I could tell many others. Some of these things are astounding.

                          I buy a lot of things on line, but I love SLT's after Christmas sale. I love the food oriented ornaments. I give them as gifts to my fellow foodie friends and collect them myself.

                      3. re: emily

                        Hi, emily: "I really don't understand this kind of WS attitude..."

                        Three little words: It's big business. Somebody gets rewarded by trying to deny you what you're entitled to. Enough people walk away screwed so that management looks good. Just like insurance and most other big biz.


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          It's not "big business". It's poor management. Plenty of large corporations have great customer service.

                          1. re: emily

                            Hi, emily:

                            Generally disagree, sorry. I think there's a pretty clear correlation between large size and bad customer service. Especially when you take into account companies like Pottery/W-S that *say* they have good service policies and then shine it off. After the Wharton/Stanford/LSE MBAs get ahold of them, the die is pretty much cast. JMO.


                2. In general, I'd say "neither" because they both cater to 35 year old Sandra Lee wannabes with way too much money and not enough good sense.

                  But if I *had* to pick one or the other....I'd go with WS, even though SLT is a local company for me. They tend to have a wider selection and better sales. Plus, their customer service is better.

                  31 Replies
                  1. re: Quintious

                    Neither....There are so many alternatives on line that if you know what you're looking for, choices and selection abound usually at better prices.
                    I still like to browse if I'm in the city or some mall but find it difficult to justify the prices at either store for what basically amounts to attractive bric a brac for the trophy kitchen.

                    1. re: Duppie

                      I agree with Duppie. I buy little from either, preferring online shopping, or a 'real' kitchen supply store.

                    2. re: Quintious

                      <they both cater to 35 year old Sandra Lee wannabes>

                      Ouch. There are people who want to be Sandra Lee?

                        1. re: GH1618

                          :) The future NY first lady, and possibly the future first lady of the United States (give it 8-12 years).

                          She is a famous home celebrity cook, and currently the long term girlfriend of NY governor Andrew Cuomo:


                          (not sure if your question is serious or not) :D

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Oh, it was serious. But then, coincidentally, I saw her video on the Pyrex web site (see most recent "Pyrex explodes!" thread).

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              She's one of the most annoying and horrible cooks (if you want to even call her a "cook") on the Food Network, but they keep giving her shows. It's really sad.

                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              If you don't know, you are better off for it. She is awful, and sometimes I wonder if she is sober. She really likes her cocktails. She takes every short cut she can. I guess everyone should see one of her shows, complete with "tablescapes" just to see her and know what to avoid!

                            3. re: Quintious

                              Wow, thanks! I actually enjoy both stores, and don't consider myself to fit that description at all.

                              1. re: NonnieMuss

                                Yeah, I better stop shopping there. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm a "Sandra Lee wannabe".

                                1. re: Quintious

                                  I don't see it at all, her stuff is usually very budget conscience and she comes from a very humble background. Not exactly the two things that WS is known for catering to. But then I completely ignore their mixes. If I'm there I'm looking at cookware or books.

                                  1. re: Quintious

                                    I see Sandra Lee wannabes shopping at places like Michael's, Artco, World Market, Cost Plus and the Party Store.

                                    1. re: libstewart

                                      I shop at world market because they have the best foods (cookies and candies, esp) I grew up with.
                                      Bounty, digestive biscuits, bird's custard, etc.

                                      CURLY WURLY!!!

                                2. re: Quintious

                                  <"neither" because they both cater to 35 year old Sandra Lee wannabes with way too much money and not enough good sense >

                                  Hardly. This seems to be a petty and small statement.

                                  I've been going to SLT and WS LONG before Sandra Lee and her nighmarish ways made their way to the airwaves. And anyone who "cooks" the way she does has no use for quality cookware or good cooking tools...Walmart and it's Chinese garbage would do just fine for Sandra Lee wannabes and supporters.

                                  1. re: FoodChic

                                    >>Secondly, anyone who "cooks" the way she does has no use for quality cookware or >>good cooking tools...Walmart and it's Chinese garbage would do just fine.

                                    I agree with you FoodChic, but unfortunately Aunt Sandy frequently uses items like this to serve her slop. I guess it matched the tablescape.


                                    And, let's not forget that she has her own line of products now too. At Sears and KMart.

                                    1. re: FoodChic

                                      It's not so much a "need" or "having a use for" - but let's be 100% honest here: They market themselves to the Holly Homemakers who think emptying a can of Hormel onto some Tostito's chips is creating a gourmet Super Bowl snack - yet still want all the appearance of (to steal the VERY apt description posted by someone else in this thread) a "trophy kitchen".

                                      It's not being "petty" or "small" (hell, every piece of cookware in my house is either All-Clad or Viking, have pretty much every gadget known to man, and I have knives that cost more than my mortgage payment, and *all* of my Staub pots are from there via last year's "get $50 store credit for every $100 you spend" sale, so I'm clearly not green with envy at people with disposable income), it's just stating a fact that their core demographic, the people they set out to market to, are people with more money than sense or understanding of the value of a dollar, given that they will pay a premium for products they can get equal-or-better than elsewhere (oftentimes the exact same products) for less money.

                                      1. re: Quintious

                                        At that time went in to longingly look at the staub 3 Quart sapphire sauce pan that l had browsed many, many times.. When it was priced out it was not 250, not 175, but 129, l said thank you and handed over the credit card. Still do not know why the price was so low, but l love the saucepan.

                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                          That was a deal. When I started collecting Le Creuset, I did not know about Staub. I am sorry I didn't. The colors and design are much better than Le Creuset. But that was almost 40 years ago.

                                        2. re: Quintious

                                          We must be in different realms, because I can tell you most people that cook like Sandra, or the hormel way, will not spend the money for quality products. Wanting quality products comes from experienced cooking.

                                          All of my non-cooking friends think I'm crazy for spending what I do on cookware and tools because they don't know the difference...much like Sandra and her friends.

                                          1. re: FoodChic

                                            The part of Seattle I live in (an Eastern suburb) is chock full of socially awkward techies who make a lot of coin, and the trophy wives who love....their coin. It's allllll about image with this crowd, and I can tell you from potlucks that many of these women could find a way to burn water, yet have the most impressive kitchens you could ever hope to have.

                                            1. re: Quintious

                                              I'm with you. Here in Central Jersey....home of the Mac Mansion,Wives who cocktail, 80k kitchens with the requisite pasta pot taps,Blond granite tops,36 inch Vikings, built in wine chillers filled with acai vitamin water and stretches of bright, shiny and idle WS appliances... both WS and Sur le Table does very well.

                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                This is an incredibly small portion of our population. And I"d bet an equally small poriton of WS and SLT shoppers.

                                                1. re: FoodChic

                                                  I venture more than you would believe.My close friend is a whole sale distributor for premium appliances for central Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania and according to him business is booming. He said the only category that slowed down was outdoor appliances such as bar fridges,built in grills and flat tops.
                                                  So go figure.......

                                                  1. re: Duppie

                                                    What does that have to do with WS and SLT?

                                                    1. re: FoodChic

                                                      Its about a class of people W-S and SLT cater to, who may or may not be actually interested in food and cooking.

                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                        Thank you K, I didn't think I would have to explain but perhaps I should have.
                                                        Thanks again.

                                                        1. re: Duppie

                                                          There was no explanation needed.

                                            2. re: FoodChic

                                              I recently went to K.C. Mo. It was my mom's 90th birthday. We had a surprise party for her. Family came from both coasts. I had a new 14 C. Cuisinart Elite processor. It arrived as we were leaving for KC. I was taking my DCL 8 to my neice with a few other appliances of which I had duplicates. My uncle commented when I said I had brought that for Rach because I just got the 14 C. "what? you bought anther kitchen appliance?" He has never been my home. He lives in Friday Harbor, Washington and I live in Bloomington, In (that is another long story). I guess my reputation in the family has been well established. Yes, I am going to have the proper tools. Some think I too am nuts. You have to have the proper tools if you are going to get the job done.

                                            3. re: Quintious

                                              The single biggest upside of places like WS and SLT is that they reliably stock products that are at least decent and sometimes quite good. This is useful for people who don't research their buys extensively.

                                              But more often than not, there is a bit of an upcharge compared to other retailers selling the same products. Also, their products are sometimes only marginally or superficially (aesthetically) better than other products that work just as well but cost much less.

                                              Willingness to research one's purchases before pulling the trigger makes SLT and WS less useful. Willingness to buy online from other retailers also makes them less useful. WS and SLT still have their place. In some cases their return policies can be very useful, and at times their sale prices are good. Still, generally you will get cookware that is as good or better while saving money if you research your purchases and buy mostly from other retailers.

                                              I do get annoyed sometimes at the misinformation in some of their product descriptions (especially WS's), but then again, that applies to many cookware retailers.

                                          2. re: Quintious

                                            Is there someone out there who wants to be Sandra Lee?? (I see Chemical Kenetics has already said this ;)

                                            I agree with the consensus that SLT is more fun. I buy from both. Haven't yet had a return problem at W-S. Everything I've taken back was clearly defective, and I certainly haven't tried to get cute with them with fraudulent returns.

                                            W-S tends to have more functional things, SLT tends to be much more browseable & have more interesting merchandise.

                                          3. I have only been to two Sur La Table and each only once, so I have a much more limited experience of Sur La Table than Williams Sonoma. They are about the same really. Possibly maybe Sur La Table because it seemed to offer a bit more merchandise given the space, but really no real difference to me.

                                            I do agree with Quintious that neither is my typical store to buy or to browse. I get more excited when I browse and shop at local restaurant supply stores, and few of the Chinese restaurant supply stores are just awesome to look around. Great products, unique products and incredible prices.

                                            I bought my CCK Chinese meat cleaver from a restaurant supply store (Win Cheong Enterprises) in Vancouver Chinatown, Canada during my short travel for a conference:


                                            The store is not huge -- a bit smaller than a high end Ming Wo restaurant store one street down, but Win Cheong Enterprises is just funnier to browse. There were some really great (not just cool) products, which is why I bought a knife there. It was a real find.

                                            *Edited* There is nothing wrong with Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table. They are both very safe store to shop in. By safe, I mean they offer good solid quality products. They are great especially for people who do not have the time to do all the research on various products. You go in, and you can expect you can walk out with a reasonable product. They may not offer the best or the most authentic or the cheapest alternative, but they sell solid products.

                                            1. Sur la Table. Less snobbish. Or is it just me? Personally, I prefer the Chefs Catalog as well as Cutlery and More.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: dcrb

                                                My experience with the WS and SLT salespeople in NYC--where there's plenty of retail cookware competition--has always been positive. They're typically pleasant, helpful, informative, and not at all pushy. That being said, the only things I ever buy from them are wedding gifts for people who've registered there, and stuff that's on sale at a very deep discount. There are so many better options available online and at independent kitchenware stores.

                                              2. Hi, Tudor_rose:

                                                Neither. Break the chains, buy independent.

                                                Fantes in Philly, City Kitchens in Seattle, Bridge Kitchenware in Jersey. There are many more.


                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Amen. I have already amassed most of what I want in my batterie de cuisine, but given how little of the major items I would pick are at either WS or SLT, I find that the main reason to go into an actual store, namely actually hefting items, is no longer there. There was a time when they both had gorgeous copper, a wall of tinned baking items, etc. Now they have plenty of nonstick bakeware and a lot of clad pans and very expensive SS knives plus lots of prepared food additives and mixes. Sigh...

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                    Absolutely, kaleo. I won't eat in a chain restaurant, why would I want to shop at a chain store? Especially if it means I have to go in or near a mall!

                                                  2. Well, I'd much rather browse at SLT but I'd rather have a gift card to WS. I need some more of the stellar Apilco bowls. Ten years post Wedding-registry and they are going strong.

                                                    1. Sur La Table definitely. I don't need much at this point but if I think I do, I automatically go to SLT. Much broader selection and less stuck on themselves. And WS seens to only care about French country merchandise (meaning, giftware as opposed to batterie de cuisine). SLT has a better selection of seasonal items. Need a whisk? SLT probably has at least 20. Cookie cutters? I don't remember even seeing any at WS (and I do need one soon). I know there are better resources for almost everything (there is a great place near my house for knives) but in general, SLT has a more comprehensive selection of almost everthing I need/want.

                                                      1. >>> If you had to choose between these two stores, which one and why. <<<

                                                        Probably SLT, simply because it's closer to my house and there's parking. BUT the REAL question is why would anyone limit themselves to these two chains?

                                                        (Well, OK, I suppose I get it if you're in the middle of, say, South Dakota. It's like the Sears & Roebuck catalog of the 1800s. But if you are within driving distance of any medium- to large-urban environment, there are so many better options. . . .

                                                        1. I'll go to SLT because there's less snob appeal and there's one closer to me, in SoHo Manhattan. The WS catalog comes in the mail, but it's almost like a kitchen decorating catalog. There are others locally, of course (Zabar's, B'way Panhandler, etc.) and I visit them all from time to time. But I'm pretty well set with cookware for now.

                                                          1. Can't choose. There is a WS in my town, which is great because they carry items many other stores don't. When I go to the city, love to visit Sur la Table. They both offer excellent buys on occasion. I'm a frugal shopper but do try to support the stores I go to for touchy feely. May have to wait for a sale , but it's worth it to have visual, tactile access and they employ people in the community. I enjoy both a lot!

                                                            1. I actually have to go to Sur La Table today to pick up an item I can't find anywhere else, except at Willams Somona for $2 more. It's vanilla paste. So that's my big reason to shop there thus far, and the clearance section is fun to look at. I did buy an 8x8 cake tray from their own line (SLT) that I love and couldn't find anything like it anywhere else. I like their bake ware. Well, that's my plug for SLT. I like WS, but it just seems too expensive for everything. I haven't found one single bargain, but perhaps I'm not shopping on the right days.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                Especially when it comes to specialized baking supplies, I almost always shop King Arthur Flour's online shop. I think you would find your vanilla paste there. They are especially good about answering product questions online.

                                                                1. re: libstewart

                                                                  I'm a big KA fan. I buy quite a few things from them, but I think some things are more expensive there. I use KAF as a guideline - if they sell it, I check out other sources for a better price. They are one of the few sources that sells parchment sheets, but it's more expensive.

                                                                  Sometimes though, nothing beats KA.

                                                                  1. re: nikkib99

                                                                    I agree, I buy from them too but some of their prices are higher than I can get elsewhere.

                                                                2. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                  Regarding the cake tin, I was so happy with my calphalon springform pan ($20 each), but needed a simple cake tin - 2" tall with straight sides. I was going to purchase the Calphalons again, but decided to check out Webstaurant store. I found a couple tins (http://www.webstaurantstore.com/9-x-2...) for under $4, but decided to purchase them because of the reviews. Of course, i was not sure about them because they only cost $4.

                                                                  The first time I made a layer cake with them, I was very impressed. Performance was equal to the calphalon. Just a quick spray - line with parchment - and you're good to go. Evenly cooked cakes and perfect texture.

                                                                  I also bought the 9" round cake liners because I felt cutting up the large parchment was wasteful. 1000 parchment circles for $16 - not a bad deal at all. If you're lucky, you get 2 circles from a flat parchment sheet, but that leads to waste. Plus it does not take a lot of space at all - it comes in a box the size of a large shoe box.

                                                                  I wish I knew about Webstaurant earlier.

                                                                  As far as vanilla paste, how about buying vanilla beans instead? http://www.theposter.com/vanilla2.htm...
                                                                  You can buy 80-100 beans for $20 plus shipping. You've have an endless supply of beans for vanilla paste. Plus they give you a free sample of vanilla extract.

                                                                3. I prefer SLT. They have a better and broader range of products. And no questioned asked return policy vs W&S 30 day  + interrogation process. 

                                                                  1. I know this is an 'either or' question, but I'm picking neither. I'm not a very experienced cook (still in the learning process) and have a decent collection of cookware(calphalon, not viking or all clad) and appliances, but there are other sites that provide a wide range of tools at a great price.

                                                                    If I had to pick a couple sites, I think shopping from Chef's Catalog and Webstaurantstore is the ideal combination. For those who need to touch/feel, nothing wrong with browsing at local stores, but buy online.

                                                                    Webstaurant has a great collection on must-have items at excellent prices. Where else can you get 100 sheets of parchment for under $4 or 1000 disposable gloves for just a few dollars. They also have random chef-y tools that won't break the bank.

                                                                    33 Replies
                                                                    1. re: nikkib99

                                                                      Wow, thanks for the online site information and the tips. I think I like some B&M stores because I get to go in and see the items for myself, but online shopping can be very economical

                                                                      1. re: nikkib99

                                                                        Hi, nikki: "...nothing wrong with browsing at local stores, but buy online."

                                                                        I gotta take small issue with that statement. I really like supporting brick-and-mortar stores whenever I can. Between the sites you mentioned, the big chains, and Amazon, it's become very hard for local, indie B&M purveyors to survive. With the tax exemption the web sellers enjoy, it's a really tilted playing field already. At least with local indie places, you can have some confidence that your money is going back into the local stream of commerce.


                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                          But what about those of us to where Amazon actually *is* a local company? :P. Course, on that same note, so is SLT.

                                                                          (And I've been paying sales tax on Amazon for years, sadly).

                                                                          The problem I run into trying to support mom-and-pop kitchen stores (of which there aren't many to begin with) is that they buy in such little volume that they can't compete on price vs a place like Amazon. Case in point: I just bought a Pro 600 Series KA stand mixer from Amazon - $319. The kitchen store @ Southcentre? Same mixer was $120 more. I'm all for supporting Aunt Jenny and her dream of having a kitchen store, but I won't pay $120 for the privilege.

                                                                          1. re: Quintious

                                                                            Hey, Quintious:

                                                                            Yeah, Amazon and SLT are "local", but they do transactions like the $1.16 billion Bezos just paid Allen for real estate. I'm talking about the working poor and middle class who might do a little better if we tried to shop local, and spread a few bucks among their butcher, baker and candlestick maker, etc.

                                                                            I get you completely about the volume pricing issue. I've actually had really good luck looking the B&M seller in the eye, telling them I want to buy from them but the online price is $X cheaper, and asking for their best price. That won't typically work with the passive-aggressive wage-slave worker at most malls, but it sure does with the owner-managers.


                                                                          2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                            God bless you, Dude, you just keep gettin' sh*t right.

                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              kaleo, you make a good point, as always...though some of us DO have to pay sales tax on internet purchases. plus, smaller local places don't always have a wide selection or the particular item one wants, and occasionally it's a matter of needing to be cost-conscious (i've been really turned off at times by the huge markup on commonly available items at some independent retailers). so for me, it's a compromise - i spread my business around while keeping an eye on my bottom line.

                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                Hi, ghg: "so for me, it's a compromise..."

                                                                                It is for most people, myself included. But I gotta tell you, two really good indie stores that were very convenient to me just went belly-up. I could always count on dropping by for stuff I needed right away, and for staying current on lots of makers and lines. Now they're gone.

                                                                                Walmart and Costco, Lowe's and Home Depot, W-S and SLT, Chase and BofA, Repubs and Dems, are all doing the same thing in different markets, and the market choices are all shrinking. I'm just trying not to play their unwitting dupe, and am willing to pay a *little* more to support small businesses.


                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  It may not be a " huge markup". Small businesses can't buy in large quantity to get the best price and their overhead is tremendous in a small shop. But they can bring you expertise, convenience, exceptional service, employ your neighbor and contribute to the local tax base. WS and Sur la Table seem special, they aren't 'big box' and you get a small store feel with good service. They have a big investment in their B & M too, so I'll support them when I can over an impersonal internet transaction because I enjoy their stores.

                                                                                  1. re: Cam14

                                                                                    to each their own. i understand the cost of running an independent retail location; that still doesn't mean i can justify paying them up to twice as much for items that i can buy elsewhere. if you can't stay at least somewhat competitive with your pricing, you're gonna have a hard time staying afloat. that doesn't mean i never give them my business, but when it comes to big-ticket items i'm usually going with whichever merchant will drain less from my bank account.

                                                                                    and in terms of chains, W-S doesn't seem "special" to me, the attitude is elitist and their customer service stinks. but i do like SLT.

                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                      We've obviously had very different experiences at WS. On my last trip the clerk was very helpful and at checkout chatted about her dog meeting up with a mother moose and babies in her yard that morning. Didn't seem elitist at all to me. Very helpful and friendly, exactly the type of place I like to go.

                                                                                2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  I completely understand your point, but you should keep in mind that we were talking about B&M chains like WS and SLT.

                                                                                  I agree with you that we should support independently owned places, but there's a catch-22 with them. As someone who lives in a city with over 10% sales tax, I don't see a point of purchasing something from an indie store at a price already higher than the chain and then adding on 10% sales tax.

                                                                                  Would I spend $200 for the same item I can get online for $150? Not at all. I'm not going to advise anyone to spend more than they have to just to support a local shop.

                                                                                  It is a double-edged sword because as much as I would like to support indie shops, not everyone can. For food items where I will pay extra for the quality, that's not a problem.

                                                                                  But I won't spend considerably more on an identical item just because it's local. I was at Marshall's a couple days ago and saw they had a Le Creuset DO(old model) for $150 (5.5 qt). SLT, Amazon, Chef's Catalog, etc sell it for about $265(new model). In this case, I would gladly buy local to save $100.

                                                                                  1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                    Hi again, nikki: "I don't see a point of purchasing something from an indie store at a price already higher than the chain and then adding on 10% sales tax...I'm not going to advise anyone to spend more than they have to just to support a local shop."

                                                                                    With respect, I submit the points are community and civic responsibility.

                                                                                    The discounters present a related challenge. For kitchenware, my experience with them is like grocery shopping behind the Iron Curtain--they have what they have and you'll like it, and no one there has a clue about what they sell. They're almost always chains, too. But as you say, at least they're B&M.


                                                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                      "With respect, I submit the points are community and civic responsibility."

                                                                                      Very true, indeed.

                                                                                      Playing devil's advocate...If I'm buying some mass-produced product made in wherever, does buying it locally from either Mr & Mrs Smith or Super Kitchen Store speak to civic and community responsibility? Maybe my dollars would help keep Mrs. CEO botoxed up in her new Land Rover or the Smith kids in college debt free, but who covers my debt by overpaying for these items?

                                                                                      I say do your best by researching what's out there and what works best for you and your budget. Is it better to buy Le Creuset (made in France) from a local mom and pop store or by Lodge (made in US...for the most part) from an online US merchant.

                                                                                      The fact is we've lost our true artisans so it's sometimes pointless to encourage purchasing of inferior products from local shops just because it keeps local B&Ms in business.

                                                                                      I think the people who end up the winners here are the dump site operators.

                                                                                      1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                        Hi, nikki:

                                                                                        You confused me... Who's encouraging purchasing "inferior products from local shops"?

                                                                                        Who covers your debt? Well, ideally, if everyone earned and spent locally, there would be enough money left/kept/spent in your community to pay living wages, and some of those people presumably would support *your* business and *your* ability to cover your payments. It's not a zero-sum game unless we're all selfish and divided.


                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          There are so many points I'm trying to make, but also trying to keep my response short so maybe that's where it seems jumbled.

                                                                                          When I mentioned debt, it was in regards to a person who spends more than they should trying to patronize a local business and in turn putting themselves in a financial mess.

                                                                                          There are no ideals in our present world and not everyone earns locally. I'm a consultant and travel for work so the idea that I should spend where I end is not applicable. If one is going to spend locally, why not stretch that idea and only buy local products? Well, that does not really work does it as most products are made in a factory on the other side of the world.

                                                                                          When it comes to selfishness and responsibility, it's more than the consumer's responsibility. Manufacturers find ways to cut costs and maximize profit by producing items using cheaper materials. Businesses flood their shelves with cheap products at a ridiculous markup and if they were the only show in town, you have no other choice.

                                                                                          In the days before web commerce, we just bought them and tossed them after a few years when they fall apart. Today, you're open to many shopping options.

                                                                                          My view of 'community' is rather different. If a mom&pop shop in Maine can provide a better product than my neighborhood chain grocery store, I'd gladly pay the shipping cost to have it sent to me. I buy my spices online from a rather small operation on the west coast.

                                                                                          Why should I spend $4 on a 1oz jar of dried parsley packaged by McCormick and sold at safeway when I can buy a pound of the same spice for $9 online from a mom & pop shop?

                                                                                          Businesses rarely care about the consumers these days and I think consumers should care more about the quality of their product than patronizing a B&M stocked with imported inferior products.

                                                                                          1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                            I've read you comments a couple times and I think I understand them. It seems that you are employing some false equivalents as well as some unfounded generalizations.

                                                                                            Where I am, there is a WS store and Rudy's Restaurant Supply within a couple miles of my home. Although, the WS is technically closer, I go to Rudy's. Their products are not inferior as their customer base would never tolerate it. Moreover, should I have questions, the lifers they have working there are a lot more knowledgeable than the ladies clerking at WS part-time while the kids are in school.

                                                                                            While I appreciate your interest in buying the best that you can (I shop for food pretty much everyday, I get it), there is often quality and value in local shops. Honestly, spending a dollar or two more, once in a while, isn't really all that horrible either when you account for the benefit to the place that you call home.

                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                              Lucky you. I live downtown Chicago and mom & pop operations are few and far between. The popular restaurant supply store is closed to the public, and it was only through research that I found out about webstaurant store.

                                                                                              Sorry, there's another restaurant supply store that is very popular for sharpening knives, but when I compare their other items online, their prices are not great.
                                                                                              Northwestern Cutlery has been around for a while, and while they're popular for sharpening knives, prices on non-knife items are ridiculous.

                                                                                              Ateco 55-piece decorating set - on Amazon for $28, Webstaurant for $26, and NW for $48. Why would I spend $20 more so I can keep my money local.
                                                                                              Cake pans for $8 at NWC...at WebSS for $4.
                                                                                              Parchment paper - $7 for 24 sheets at NVW, WebSS - $4 for 100 sheets
                                                                                              Cake tester - $0.84 at NWC; WebSS $1.10 at WebSS - better price at NWC

                                                                                              I've just listed a few items I've purchased in the past few months. If I'm going to shop locally, it does not mean I should toss money out the window.

                                                                                              To each their own. It's one thing to pay 10% more to support local businesses, it's ridiculous to pay 50% more.

                                                                                              1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                <To each their own..>

                                                                                                I think I will agree with this. It is fine to try to support local business, which I like to do, but it is not a clear black and white issues. We are not talking about good vs evil here. Our circumstances and situations are different, so our conclusions are bound to be different.

                                                                                                For example, I can get my Dexter Russell knives cheaper from my local restaurant supply store than Amazon (sometime), but many things are much cheaper for me on Amazon. Like you said, the difference can be very significant sometime. I went to one store for a Dexter Russell knife for $27 and the other store for $45. Same knife model. When I told the store owner who was selling at $27 about the story, he said "Who the **** would sell at $45?"

                                                                                                1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                  You're right, I'm lucky. I don't have to throw money out the window to get good quality and service while shopping local. It seems to me like there is a lot of money to be made in Chicago by opening a decent restaurant supply store that is open to the public.

                                                                                                  Another factor, I suppose, is that we seem to shop for different kinds of things. Hell, I have no idea what a "cake tester" is and am only guessing from context what the hell a "decorating set" might be.

                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                    <I have no idea what a "cake tester">

                                                                                                    Pretty much a metal needle.

                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                        You stated that you are not sure what a cake tester is, so I replied the best I could.

                                                                                                        As for the need for one, I am not arguing for or against. I will leave it to individuals to make their own decisions. Some people find a mandoline useful, and some think a kitchen knife is more than enough. I know professional bakers who use these cake testers, so I am sure they have their advantages.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          Yes, but it's much thinner than a toothpick so it leaves a tinier hole. Most people probably don't need it and I could possibly get away with not having one, but it was only $1.

                                                                                                          I rarely use toothpicks when testing cakes because some cakes are much taller than the average tp. I just break a bamboo skewer in half and use it. Like I said, I sometimes want something thinner.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            I appreciated your response and was sincerely just trying to understand what it is - not questioning it's utility.

                                                                                                          2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                            Ah, but where do you buy your toothpicks?

                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                              I get mine with my initials micro engraved on pre ban ivory from the WS Christmas Cocktail Collection

                                                                                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                Do I get discount if I order in large quantity?

                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                  Only in Elephant Ivory.....Albino walrus is limited to 50 per houshold but no discounts and no machine engraving.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                    You know... when I lived in Berkeley, there were plenty vendors on the street willing to engrave on rice.


                                                                                                                    I do like albino walrus, but I prefer those tiny teeth from this dinosaur:


                                                                                                                2. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                  Awesome. :)

                                                                                                                  There are some things your local mom + pop shop don't offer.

                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                    I just take them from the counter in my local Chinese restaurant. I'm not Sandra Lee.

                                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                      That's exactly what I would expect Sandra Lee to say, lest her cover be blown.

                                                                                          2. SLT no questions. I haven't been in WS for a long long time. I feel like I've outgrown it. SLT has a far greater selection.

                                                                                            Since we've moved past just the either or question . . . yes online resources are better, that is the nature of online.

                                                                                            But recently I've been loving Crate and Barrel. I'm pretty well stocked as far as equipment goes - so I've been loving C&B's cheap small plates/dishes. They are cheap enough to buy several to change up presentation a few times a year but on trend enough to be fun. The quality isn't Apilco but I'm not looking for that in trendy small plates. Same with their glassware variety.

                                                                                            i wish SLT or WS would get on the band wagon a little.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: thimes

                                                                                              I do like to *look* at C&B's dishes. Being a potter I make my own, but sometimes they give me ideas...especially for trendy small plates. :)

                                                                                            2. I have never been in a SLT but there is one opening nearby soon. That mall, Fashion Valley in San Diego, will have Crate and Barrel, W/S, and SLT all in one location.

                                                                                              There is a local gourmet store that carries high end wares that I'd rather go to but will see SLT once it opens.


                                                                                              31 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: knifesavers

                                                                                                I have been to Crate and Barrel twice. I actually like it. I don't remember why, but I remember liking it.

                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                  I'm a CB fan - I get all my tableware from them.

                                                                                                  1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                    :) Yeah, I even got my study desk from them. Moreover, I even got a bunch of glass jars from them (20+ jars for spices and herbs and dried goods). At the time, CB offered at least 3 different sizes, but now only 1 size I think.


                                                                                                    They are great jars. Bought them through on the CB online -- since the online store had more selections. I have a few things here and there which I bought from CB real brick and mortar stores.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      OMG, we have the same jars! Libbey Vibe - cutest jars.

                                                                                                      Can I tell you a secret? You can get those jars much cheaper from the jar store - I have about 30 of those for my spices. I use the smallest (4oz ) for spices I don;t use much of (whole nutmeg, 5 spice, allspice) and use the larger ones (12.5) for my commonly used spices.

                                                                                                      The smaller jars are also available at Amazon and Target, but Amazon's price was not that great on the larger ones. I found a website, thejarstore.com, that had a good price on the larger jars, but you have to pay shipping.

                                                                                                      I bought a few dozen assorted jars to share with friends so that covered the shipping cost.

                                                                                                      1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                        <Can I tell you a secret? You can get those jars much cheaper from the jar store>

                                                                                                        Jar store? I tell you this. My first few Libbey Vibe spice jars were bought from the Container Store. Later, I found out that Cratel and Barrel sells at lower prices. I tend to buy my spices from my local Indian stores. The spices are inexpensive and better quality than the typical supermarket McCormick spice bottles. Problem is that Indian stores do not sell spices in tiny quality. As such, the even medium jar can only hold about half of the spices package. Good thing is that I tend to buy whole spices and they last much longer.

                                                                                                        Anyway, thanks for the jarstore advice. I have never heard of it.

                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                          I'm not sure what the deal is with some stores. For whatever reason, they choose to stop carrying decent items. Would be nice to have the large jars at the local B&M stores, but they don't carry them.

                                                                                                          There's a Target 5 minutes away from me, but they only sell those jars online.

                                                                                                          Oh well.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            I buy spices at the Indian markets also, and I store them in canning jars. Those spice jars would not hold the amount I often buy. I have to use pint and quart canning jars.

                                                                                                            1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                              <Those spice jars would not hold the amount I often buy>


                                                                                                              I know. I do want to buy less, but I cannot because the package size.

                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                I use small spice jars (from Penzey's), and store excess in pouches in a larger jar. It's a more efficient use of space.

                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                  Yep, it is similar to what I do Indian store spice come in larger quantity than typical supermarket -- quiet a bit larger. My spice jars cannot hold all of the spice, so I transfer the rest of ziploc bags. The spice jars stay on the counter or close by. The bags are put away.

                                                                                                                  Because my spices are whole spices (not grounded), they tend to preserve the favor much longer. On top of that, the spices from Indian stores are just much cheaper that I will come out ahead even if half of the spices are ruined -- which they are not.

                                                                                                                  It always amazes me why McCormick spices cost so much more. A small 1-2 oz bottle of McCormick spice bottle costs more than a 8-12 oz bag of spice from my local Indian stores. On top of that, I don't find the McCormick spices to be better.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                    McC is selling tiny quantities in supermarkets, so their packaging and handling costs are higher, and because of the small size, customers are less sensitive to the unit price. Clearly that model doesn't work for someone doing (for example) Indian cooking on a regular basis.

                                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                      <McC is selling tiny quantities in supermarkets, so their packaging and handling costs are higher>

                                                                                                                      Good point. Thanks.

                                                                                                                2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                  That's why you buy a larger jar... Online :)

                                                                                                                  I buy spices online because of the bulk discount - I fill the spice jar and store the rest in ziploc bags. Since the price is so low and the quantity so high, I generally give some away. Ever seen a 1lb bag of herbes de provence?

                                                                                                                  1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                    <Ever seen a 1lb bag of herbes de provence?>

                                                                                                                    No. :)

                                                                                                                    It would be funny that your Christmas gifts (or whatever holiday) for your family members is "left over spices"

                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                      My Dad's been making Christmas gifts out of the herbs and chiles he grows every summer and dries every fall since I was in my lowercase days. Pretty much whatever's leftover from his own consumption during the growing season.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                        Good for your dad, but what your dad did is admirable. That is very different than say "Opps I bought too much spices. Ok, let's split my leftover spices into little bags and make them into Christmas gifts"

                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                          It's sweet now that he's seventy-something. And, I agree, it's not quite the same as "here's my leftover sh*t". Nonetheless, the whole thing struck me as funny.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                        It would indeed. But what I've done is ordered spices online and shipped them to family and friends overseas. Sometimes, these quality spices are so hard to come by or when you find them the price is outrageous. Anyway, the plus side is spices are lightweight so mailing them is not too bad.

                                                                                                                        1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                          I didn't mean to mock you. Actually I have given away leftover spice just because, like you said, they can be difficult to come by and that I would never get to finish them on time. It would still be funny to recieved it as Christmas gift though.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                            I didn't take it as mocking, so it's cool. But you're right, it would be funny to receive spices as xmas gifts. I'm not into practical gifts - xmas is all about giving the wants, not the needs.

                                                                                                          2. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                            Hi, nikki:

                                                                                                            C&B is actually a great parallel with W-S. And Eddie Bauer. And Abercrombie & Fitch. All are "mature" brands that are now alien to their roots.

                                                                                                            Was a time when C&B offered truly fine copperware, equal if not superior to the superbly thick and heavy 1970s-era wares that Chuck Williams had Mauviel stamp "W-S" for him. Now C&B's kitchenalia seems to me just a skosh better than Chez Target. Good prices on glasses, though.


                                                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                              "Alien to their roots"? What's that supposed to mean? Mature, yes, but I've been buying Eddie Bauer for decades, and currently own and wear more EB than ever. I don't find any departure from their original concept at all. As true to its roots as an old Pacific Northwest Sitka spruce tree.

                                                                                                              1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                I think those stores was different than the norm - more like the trendy store to get home products. Above K-mart, below waterford crystal.

                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                  Hi, GH1618:

                                                                                                                  Well, A&F was the quintessential and venerable American *sporting goods* store (guns, fishing tackle, etc.) It's now just trendy and shoddy sportswear.

                                                                                                                  And Eddie Bauer, in the pre-Spiegel days, was a camping store (You bought tent pegs out of a bin at Third and Stewart (now Bed Bath & Beyond). It's now a boring casual clothing and Brookstone-style gifty chain. More like an artificial spruce that comes out to push pleated corduroy pants.

                                                                                                                  And Crate & Barrel *actually sold* out of crates and barrels. Nary a sofa nor a faux Danish dinette set in view. It wishes it was Ikea.

                                                                                                                  At least W-S and SLT have stayed (so far) in kitchenware, but they're all about replication and pushing ever-more-profit-maximized lines. Oh, and they have their own credit cards. Chuck Williams, now age 97, would not recognize W-S--it has metasticized continuously since he was run out in 1973.

                                                                                                                  That's what it's supposed to mean.


                                                                                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                    I never knew that. Thanks for the explanation. I never knew C&B except for what it is today.

                                                                                                                    1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                      No problem, nikki. They say "Colonel" Sanders' chicken was a lot different before it exploded as KFC, too. Brand maturation is a spooky concept akin to political science. Just rake the surface for countless other examples..


                                                                                                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                        Thanks God KFC is different from the original because I don't understand the draw. I find their chicken rather disgusting. The most vile part of it is when you lift the breaded skin and find that mass of congealed opaque fat.

                                                                                                                        Let's not forget about that weird powdery aftertaste.

                                                                                                                  2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                    It's progressive speak for, they sold out and now a big evil corporation

                                                                                                                  3. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                    I remember the days I would save CB catalogs and dream about what I'd buy when I finally get my own place. :)
                                                                                                                    Now CB is just like any other place - I like them for plates, cups, etc. If I happened to be at W-S or SLT, I probably would have purchased from them. It was more about the style of the plates - simple, rectangular white plates.

                                                                                                                    Come to think of it, I think the reason I made that huge purchase online was I got 5 times the frequent flyer miles. :)

                                                                                                              2. re: knifesavers

                                                                                                                @knifesavers, if you're ever up in Leucadia/Carlsbad, there's a SLT at the Forum Shops. i used to shop there all the time when i lived in North County.

                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                  I know of it but never made a trip up there.

                                                                                                                  I go to Great News in PB for high end gear.


                                                                                                              3. Anyone shop at IKEA for kitchen goods? While I admit they don't have the best quality, I like their glass containers, utensils, and other items.

                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                                                                  I try not to shop at IKEA . . . it isn't the easiest place to run in and out of when you need a new vegetable peeler . . .

                                                                                                                  1. re: Tudor_rose

                                                                                                                    I went to IKEA once, which I think should be required, but was enough for me! It was like Disney World but without the rides. Or it was like Epcot, only you were stuck in Sweden-ville. :)

                                                                                                                    I bought a french press (broke first time I used it), some rubber spatulas (melted first time I used them), and some cork trivets, that are just fine actually. I didn't sepnd a lot, so I'm not disappointed in my purchases - I got what I paid for. If I ever go back, I might grab some more trivets.

                                                                                                                  2. If I had to choose I would pick WS simply because I have never been to SLT. I live in Tennesee, at least 2 hours away from any decent kitchen store. The closest thing I have is a Bed, Bath & Beyond! I do drive to WS on occasion because I like being able to pick up an item, feel its texture/weight/finish, etc. and I just freaking like to shop in person! That doesn't make me a Sandra Lee wannabe (I'm 37 by the way) nor does it mean that I am trying to keep up with the Jonses when I spend a lot of money on an item there. I live in a 1400 sq. ft. split foyer for goodness sake, but I love to cook and I think I am pretty good at it, so I enjoy shopping at most any kitchen type store....even the outlets. For shame!!!

                                                                                                                    1. Both are fine stores. And I think everything I have ever purchased has been on sale. Both have lots of promotions. Why pay retail?

                                                                                                                      1. Sur la Table. I bought a Le Creuset Dutch oven there and managed to crack the enamel on the second use (dropped while drying it). Sur la Table replaced it, free, no hassle.

                                                                                                                        1. WS has terrible shipping rates, especially annoying for wedding guests. I only ever buy g.c. there.

                                                                                                                          But I would still choose it because they carry the basic brands I've liked and I absotutely LOVE Apilco and it is the only place to buy in the USA. Ten years of heavy use with tons of kids and even used at kid parties and we've only lost two plates.

                                                                                                                          And I like their hotel napkins too.

                                                                                                                          I love to shop at SLT because they have a lot of fiddly stuff and it feels less corporate but if I was starting from, say "house fire" I'd do WS

                                                                                                                          1. I prefer SLT. I find that they are aiming at serious cooks. WS is a little too pretty and also trendy.

                                                                                                                            1. Sur La Table

                                                                                                                              I like that they have choices between items. One of the things I never liked about WS is that they rarely have a choice between two similar items. Just the one they think is "best". Their best may not be my best. I like making my own choices.

                                                                                                                              1. Sur La table has better customer service. Recently, i did a registry with both WS and SLT and it was a completely different experience. WS didn't help in store and it took me an hour to add all the items, the store clerk erased all the items by accident. I decided to add some online but i choose to go to SLT after and registered almost everything there with the help of the store personal within half the time. I find WS does not have as many cook items needed and is for the really casual cook and the staff is the same way.

                                                                                                                                Returns and registry completion:
                                                                                                                                WS gave me credit for the returns BUT didn't give me the completion discount of 10% of the items i wanted. Then they didn't have something in stock and ordered it online BUT i can only choose completion discount or free shipping. It cost me more for the same cost item then i was gifted.
                                                                                                                                SLT: was so easy, got the credit and then gave me 10% off on everything in or out of my registry. They didn't have a few things i wanted but i was able to get it ordered with free shipping AND the discount. (BTW so was BBB)

                                                                                                                                I'll use up my credit at ws but i love sur la table.

                                                                                                                                1. Williams Sonoma. I actually like some of the merchandise under their brand especially their bakeware. Sur la Table..not so much. I admire that Sur la Table used to sell antique copper though.

                                                                                                                                  I also honestly do not care that sur la table has a more varied collection such as more brands of whisks to compare. I'm the kind of person who researches what he wants online rather than stands there in the store comparing things. I only do that when it comes to clothes as they may seem different in person. But unlike clothes, cooking stuff tends to be accurately represented online. Williams Sonoma just has more of what im looking for and im grateful they filtered the selections for me. I also get better deals with them, especially during the holiday season. I admit, I don't really shop at either stores that much anymore as I find better deals and stuff online but I do like Williams sonoma's collections more. Sur la table is also quite messy. I find myself more on ebay and amazon or going to JB Prince.