In general, does it pay to steer clear of big box stores when it comes to flooring, or can they offer things that a small business installer cannot?
In the case of The Home Depot they don't install anything. They hire a regional installation person who oversees several stores in the region, who in turn hires local subcontractors at each store who in turn does some work and subs some work.
With them, you are ultimately getting the workers that will work for the least amount of compensation as everyone above them has to get his slice of the pie whether they touch your job or not. You won't be finding very many creme of the crop installers that low on the totem pole.
I've already suggested a suitable way to do this.
It doesn't have to be HFD, find another supplier and go from there.