Tile, stone business adds a Northwest location
Dave Perry/The Explorer, Kara Middendorf stood before a wall of tile and held a honey onyx sink at Tile Outlet Always in Stock.

Tile Outlet Always in Stock has opened its second greater Tucson store in Marana, hoping to capitalize on a location near major home improvement businesses.

“This is where it happens,” said franchisee Kara Middendorf, gesturing toward Home Depot and similar establishments off Thornydale Road and Costco Drive.

The 1,800-square foot Marana store opened June 5.  Business has been “good,” Middendorf said, with “a decent amount of traffic and sales.”

The Middendorf family, including Joe and Chris, also operates Tile Outlet Always in Stock at 3820 N. Palo Verde.

“We wanted to get our name on the other side of town,” Kara said. “We’re trying to draw from the Northwest, and the North.”

The business sells ceramic, porcelain and natural stone tile and finished granite countertops to contractors, builders and do-it-yourselfers looking to build and remodel kitchens and bathrooms. While Tile Outlet Always in Stock does not install nor cut materials, “we have really good relationships with granite and tile installers,” Middendorf said, and the store can provide estimates for labor and materials.

Lengths of uncut granite countertops range from $199 to $590, depending on the choice from a wide tableau of color. “What’s popular one month is not popular the next,” Middendorf said.

She enjoys the artistic side of material selection. “I’ve always been interested in and loved doing decorating and design,” Middendorf said. Granite should be matched with cabinets, flooring, and paint, along with “how much light is in the room.” The transplanted Kentuckian enjoys customers with “more of a creative vision. It’s fun with customers who are excited with their projects.”

Most of the business’s granite comes from Brazil and India, with other stone from China and the U.S. Pieces are finished, with rounded edging, saving money over raw pieces of stone that must be worked.

There are walls of tile in the store. In Arizona, “everyone tiles their floors,” Middendorf said, so there is travertine, marble and slate tile, “expensive and trendy” glass tile, tile that looks like wood, porcelain and ceramic tile. Middendorf explains the differences between porcelain and ceramic. Porcelain tile is heated to a higher degree, which is why it is denser, heavier and “will not absorb as much moisture.”

More people are looking to remodel kitchens and bathrooms during the housing slowdown, Middendorf suggests. “They say ‘I’m staying in my home, I can’t sell it for what I want,’” so they remodel.

Cost to remodel a typical kitchen “through us” represents “probably a couple grand” in investment, Middendorf said. People should look at the relative “life spans” of tile and carpet when pricing the floor coverings, she said. Stone and tile are made to last, she explained.

“Granite doesn’t go out of style. It’s kind of ageless.”

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