Store Name: The House of Staunton, Inc
Store Description: The HOS is an American chess retail store founded by Frank “The Maestro” Camaratta.” They specialize in wooden chess sets, and their collectible variety are appreciated the world over. It began in 1989 and the store has grown to become one of the most complete chess stores, possessing a wide array of chess products that are sure to fulfill the needs of every chess player, though Frank Camaratta sold his company in 2007 to his most trusted and passionate colleague, Shawn Sullivan.
Price Range: Low, Mid Range, Luxury, Rare Collectibles
Customer Care Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Support Phone No.: 256.858.8070
As a store that has built the reputation of being the “gold standard” by which other sellers are measured, the HOS does not disappoint.
They live up to their billing by providing an extensive range of high-quality products, offering sterling customer service, and creating collectible, wooden sets that many regard to be the best anywhere.
As with many high-quality product providers, and as a premium for quality guarantee, their products are generally priced higher than others.
Their top-of-the-line wooden chess sets are especially expensive. They also offer some of the rarest and collectible items like the Mammoth Ivory chess set.
|Very extensive and complete line of chess products, from sets to accessories||Expensive collectible sets|
|Top-of-the-line collectible wooden sets||Expensive Worldwide shipping on products not qualified for Free Shipping|
|Excellent customer service and strong commitment to customer satisfaction||A little messy website|
|High Product Quality & wide presence of favorite chess product brands||Any additional fees, such as GST, duties or VAT are not included in the shipping cost|
A. Product Range and Variety
Visiting the HOS makes you pretty much a child in toy land, gaping in awe at all there is to behold.
Quite truthfully, we haven’t seen that much massive collection of “toys” that every chess player’s heart once desired or still desires for, until we combed through every nook and corner of the HOS.
Here are the general product categories of HOS, as represented in their website:
- Chess Pieces
- Chess Sets
- Chess Boxes
- Chess Boards
- Chess Bags
- Chess Clocks
- Chess Books
- Chess DVD’s
- Score Books and Club Supplies
- Chess Accessories
All the above general categories contain many sub-categories. For instance, clicking “Chess Pieces” will take you to several choices of Luxury, Wood, Plastic, Glass, Themed, Mammoth Ivory, Porcelain and Artistic sets, to mention just a few.
Clicking “Chess Clocks” will take you to sub-category brands such as DGT, BHB, Chronos and Zmart, again to mention just a few. That should give us all an idea how staggering the variety and selections are in the HOS.
Hours could fly by without your knowing it when you peep here and there. They claim to be one of the largest suppliers of chess equipment in the mainland America and there is every reason to believe them.
Clearly, the HOS caters to all kinds of players. For those who love beautiful sets, they have a long line of collectibles.
For those who aspire to chess mastery, their selection of chess books, chess programs and DVD’s are enough to take anyone to the first category level. There is something for everyone at The HOS, from the beginner to Grandmaster.
B. Product Quality and Price
The HOS is quality and quality is HOS, so it goes in the chess community. Much commendation has to be given to the HOS for earning the reputation as “the gold standard” by which other sellers are measured.
Surely, this must count as a definitive business edge, but we guess it must weigh on them heavily, too, for if they are in less than tip-top shape on any given day they will disappoint, and they will disappoint many.
This reputation has certainly been earned with their wooden sets, which has been the brainchild of the venerable Frank “The Maestro” Camaratta, the founder of The HOS.
Frank’s love and passion for historical sets lit his fire, setting him in his life’s work of reproducing as accurately as possible the best and the greatest chess sets ever to grace humankind’s table.
But, of course, The HOS is more than just wooden sets, and before we go to this delectable matter let us first discuss the other products The HOS has in their menu.
By other products, we refer to the basic chess materials like plastic tournament pieces, vinyl boards, clocks and accessories that every seller has to have if they are to be successful in the chess retailing business.
With these there is really no quality to talk about, for after all our retailers probably acquire them from the same source, very likely China. Wherever we buy them, they are all the same.
The most important facts about them, then, is their price, for these chess materials are always in great demand. We need them, and schools, clubs and organizers need them in much greater quantity. We will find out how The HOS” prices stack with all the rest, and whether they are the best place to acquire these needs.
Let us refer to the table below showing us the prices of four basic tournament materials – a standard plastic pieces set, a 2.25 in. vinyl board, a chess clock (the DGT North American), and a chess bag – from four different American retailers – The HOS, Wholesale Chess, The Chess Store, and Chess House:
|HOS||Wholesale Chess||The Chess Store||Chess House|
|Standard Plastic Pieces||$6.95|
Bulk - $5.35
Bulk - $5.99
Bulk - $5.39
Bulk - NA
|Vinyl Board (2.25")||$5.95|
Bulk - $4.45
Bulk - $3.49
Bulk - $4.59
Bulk - $4.20
|Chess Clock (DGT North American)||$49.45||$49.99||NA||$39.50|
|Chess Bag (24"x9")||$18.95||$19.99||$29.95||$19.50|
It is quite revealing that neither in small quantity purchases nor in bulk purchases does The HOS offer the best prices.
The HOS probably reckons that adding a little premium on their products is justified by the quality they are known for, even though these are exactly the same products their competitors are selling. The difference, however, is not that much, and prices can be greatly affected by whatever sales promotion each seller offers at a given moment.
As we advised previously, we urge everyone to be slow and deliberate with their purchases and check each seller and make a simulated purchase of their needs.
This is the best way to get the best value for our investment. As we are writing, The HOS is offering a 20% Memorial Day discount and this may get the price of whatever you need lower than anywhere else.
And now to the matter of The HOS wooden sets.
Much has been said of The HOS wooden sets, especially their collectibles. It goes around that if you can’t get a Jaques original, which will cost you a fortune, the next best thing is an HOS reproduction.
We must admit we haven’t as much laid an eye, much less a finger, on an HOS reproduction set from the $500 to above price range as this is already too forbidding for us.
Yet, we don’t doubt the collectors who rave that their HOS is the crown jewel of their collection. Even by just looking at the Camaratta line of reproductions, the sets exude class of their own. They are the closest to the original as far the pictures tell, and their finishing touches (antiquing process, as it is called) give them a more authentic look than all the rest.
Frank Camaratta’s critical eye for detail, and his relentless drive to raise his products to his lofty standards give them their deserved price.
And these prices are hefty, too hefty in fact that there have been grumblings all around. We’ve all heard these grumblings – “Why get these HOS sets when there are others nearly as good at a fraction of the price?”
To substantiate these “grumblings” let’s refer to another table comparing the prices of three collectible sets from The HOS and Chessbazaar. As we have mentioned in previous reviews, Chessbazaar is a prominent Indian seller offering quality wooden sets at very friendly prices, and the sets compared are the 1849 Jaques, The Anderssen “Drop Jaw” Jaques, and the 1963 Piatgorsky sets, all “must-haves” for collectors.
The 1849 Jaques from HOS is for $1495 whereas chessbazaar sell for a mere $418.85, the Anderson “Drop jaw” Jaques, the HOS sells for $450 and chessbazaar sells for $402.75, the 1963 Piatgorsky, the HOS sells for $495, whereas chessbazaar sells for $355.22.
Though the comparison isn’t close, specially for a 1849 chess set, however, the HOS claims that their 1849 is a true reproduction made from the originals and have special weighing technique which solves cracking problems.
All we can say is that no matter where you stand in the divide, you can never be wrong. Getting a signature brand is just as wise as getting a more affordable equivalent.
In all, sellers like The HOS and Chessbazaar are a boon to us chess players & chess collectors’, for we get to be offered sets suiting our tastes, temperament and budget. Whether we are willing to bear the extra premium for prestige, or whether we wish expand our collection only without breaking the bank, we have trusted sellers ready to give us what we deserve.
Speaking of prices, The HOS has devised schemes and promotions to cushion the costs of their products. One of these is their Collector’s Club, where for a membership fee of $100 you get to be offered discounts when purchasing from among their collectible lines. The discounts are generous and the membership fee can be recovered quickly.
Another is their free-shipping offer. This is new to the HOS, and they finally have joined the seller’s trend of shipping for free. As of the moment, however, this applies only to selected products, those they generally categorize as high-end. Then comes the Layaway plan.
Finally, they have their holiday and clearance sales. Holiday day sales are sure to come and we can mark on the calendar the day we are to purchase a much-wanted item from the HOS (Christmas Day, for instance). Clearance sales are harder to foresee, but they are great savers if you chance upon them.
C. Customer Service
Perhaps no seller can ever be spared of customer issues. Sellers may do all that they can, but there are simply too many variables to leave customers fully satisfied. Some are too stern and have excessively high expectations.
Others will argue to great lengths over negligible, almost invisible product defects. Still, others simply harbor opinions different from the seller’s when in fact there is no problem with the sale or product at all.
As we scoured the net for assessment of The HOS’ customer service, the issues we found were mostly of the last sort. It certainly speaks to HOS product quality that we hardly found complaints about items purchased.
In one issue, the customer argued that he wasn’t satisfied with the clearance between the edges of the board he purchased with the zipper of the board’s bag. The HOS replied that the clearance was standard length.
There was no issue with the quality of the board and bag, only that the seller and buyer had different ideas about standard clearance length.
The issue was settled peacefully, as were almost all of the claims against The HOS that we found. It speaks highly of The HOS customer service that they are able to do this when buyers have very wide and different predilections. It takes much understanding and diplomacy to do that.
We ourselves just experienced The HOS brand of customer service when we couldn’t pass up on a beautiful wooden board tagged with a 20% Memorial Day discount and free shipping.
It took us a while to complete the order and for a moment we had to log out. Immediately, we received an email if we had any problems with our item in our cart that we haven’t purchased it yet.
We completed the purchase, and then sent some questions about how our board was to be packaged. About an hour after we received the reply. That, for us, is excellent customer service!
|RECOMMENDED IF||NOT RECOMMENDED IF|
|You are looking for a store with a complete line of chess products, from sets to accessories||You are looking for the lowest prices for a chess item you need|
|You want to purchase several chess products under one roof||You are looking for collectible wooden sets and are working on a budget|
|You demand high quality for your purchases||You want a custom made chess set|
D. Customer Reviews
E. General Online Shopping Experience
The HOS website amazes us for how it contains a massive number of chess products. Somehow, the site makes you feel like you are in bottomless pit where the buttons to click never run out! Yet, too, you’ll never be lost within it, because as plenty as the products are, they are also neatly laid out.
We love the site’s systematic categorization that allows for easy product search. Pieces are categorized into Wood, Luxury, Plastic, Staunton, Themed, etc., and also by price range and King-height. Boards are categorized into Wood, Luxury, Vinyl, Mouse pad etc. and also by price range and square size.
If we have something to complain is that the site appears a bit cramped. Maybe some free areas and a bit more spacing between products and buttons would lessen the strain to the eyes.
Other than that, The HOS website is as good as any website can get. The company introduction is superb as are the product descriptions. Best of all, it allows for easy communication with its instant email and live chat.
HOS Best Sellers
The Collector Series Plastic Chess Pieces
The 2020 Cairns Cup Player's Chess Pieces
Austrian Coffeehouse Chess Pieces
Folding Maple Wooden Chess Board
Is this shop legit?
Yes, The HOS is most trusted brand in the chess market. They not only cater their customers from their vast web store, but they also have a good presence on Amazon and eBay.
They are also the official supplier of chess equipment to USCF and some major FIDE chess tournament like the Sinquefield Cup and the 2020 Cairns Cup.
With 100s of review on various products, free worldwide shipping & with the association of legendary Frank Camaratta, the House of Staunton is a legit business.
No, it is not necessary to register with HOS to make a purchase.
Yes, you can track your order once the HOS ships the item/s.
The HOS uses FedEx and USPS for expedited shipping, both domestic and International. They uses ground shipping for items eligible for FREE shipping.
Yes, they offer FREE worldwide shipping to around 500 items in their catalogue. They have placed a banner on every product eligible for free shipping.
From the date the item is purchased, the House of Staunton will warranty that its branded products will be free of manufacturing defects for a period of one year and will replace any items that exhibit manufacturing defects at absolutely no charge to the customer.