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Old 06-21-2021, 07:36 AM   #1
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Big box home improvement stores

I have a love hate relationship with Loews and Home Depot. I love that they almost have any and everything I need but I hate that it's difficult to find things and they are understaffed. I spend at least 30 minutes each time I go there even if it's for just one thing. You park go in and check out and that takes half the time. Other times I can spend an hour or more and most of that time is trying to find something.
Lowes gives a 10% veteran discount and so does Home Depot but the Depot makes it more difficult.

I love Ace and TrueValue but many times they just don't have what I looking for, like a 2" PVC ball valve at Ace. Quick in and out and someone to help you right at the door. Free popcorn too! I like supporting small business's but I understand a place like Ace can't have the selection of a Home Depot.

So I go to Ace when I can but if I think they might not carry it I'll skip them and go to Lowes. Too bad because they are in opposite directions from our home or I would stop at Ace first.
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Old 06-21-2021, 07:47 AM   #2
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I agree with everything you said! We have a small family-owned local hardware that I try to give as much business as I can. They have a great staff that can solve just about any problem you have with finding the right part, and it's amazing how much stock they have for such a small hardware.

We had an Ace Hardware for a while, but they didn't make it. We only have the local hardware and Lowes. The nearest Home Depot is about 60 miles away. I do find that there is a HUGE difference in the service I get at HD compared to Lowes! Just about every employee I meet at HD asks if they can help me. At Lowes I need a 2x4 to get their attention!
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Old 06-21-2021, 07:57 AM   #3
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I gave up on brick and mortar stores. Itís just too frustrating trying to find things and employees that know anything. NAPA has to be the worst. Every time Iíve been there nationwide, they canít find what I need or it takes an hour. I order everything online now. Saves me time and no aggravation.
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Old 06-21-2021, 08:18 AM   #4
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I've been pleasantly surprised by ACE and, to a lesser extent, True Value stores when it comes to finding parts. I've had better luck with them than HD and Lowe's, especially when it comes to plumbing and specialty fasteners. That's not talking about any one ACE or True Value store or stores in a particular area - that's an overall observation after a while as a fulltimer.

HD and Lowe's have larger overall selections but ACE especially, tends to have better thought out ones.
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Old 06-21-2021, 08:41 AM   #5
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My experience at Lowes/Home Depot has been just the opposite of the OP.

I always search the website for the store I intend to go to for the item I am looking for.

Both have a check box for "in stock" at the store. If they aren't in stock I go elsewhere.

They both will list aisle and bin for the part.

Granted the location of the part and in stock status are sometimes wrong but in my experience this occurs less than 10% of the time.

Checkout if I have less than 3 or 4 items and there is no one in line ahead of me takes less than 30 seconds.

If I am wearing my hat with the USMC emblem I usually don't have to ask for the discount. Many Lowes have parking spots reserved for Veterans near the entrance.


My biggest delays at Lowes/HD are when I get behind several people at checkout who are chatty Cathy's who want to shoot the breeze with the cashier.

For me ACE and other small stores have been a mixed bag. Some quick and friendly others slow and less than friendly. Plus going to Ace you just don't know if they are gonna have what you want.

Shopping anywhere for anything anytime takes time and patience.

Slow, unfriendly, uncooperative, poor service, and frustrating are terms
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Old 06-21-2021, 08:46 AM   #6
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Worth It?

timjet: Is the 10% veteran discount worth the inconvenience of the extra time you have to spend at Lowes?

Let's be clear....the reality is Lowes is in business to make money. The sad fact is, THAT is their ONLY priority. In order to attract the business of veterans like yourself, THEY have to sacrifice something, in this case it's 10% of the sale, and that 10% may represent their entire net profit margin. In order to compensate for that 10% they have to economize somewhere, and in this case, they have to cut back on the number of people helping veterans.

You are free to purchase from whomever and wherever you like. However, it will have to be on their terms and conditions. So, is the 10% veterans discount worth your time?
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Old 06-21-2021, 09:34 AM   #7
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If I'm looking for something at either Lowe's or Home Depot, I search for it on their app before I even enter the store which lists the EXACT location by aisle and bin number of a specific item. It's a tremendous time saver plus, as my wife will attest, it dramatically cuts down the lure of impulse purchases since I'm not wandering aimlessly around the store.

And both Lowe's and Home Depot offer a 10% discount for military retirees which is a pretty nice perk, especially when you're talking about big purchases like appliances. I had to register online at Lowe's which was kind of a PITA but all I've ever had to do at Home Depot was to show my military ID card.
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Old 06-21-2021, 10:11 AM   #8
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My local HD has a guy in plumbing named John. John knows where everything in the store is located and also knows how to install pretty much anything, so he can give you advise.

I have better luck at HD, wife likes Lowes better. HD is in my city in regards to local sales taxes, Lowes is not. I don't think we have a small, Mom & Pop hardware store or an Ace/True Value in our city. I will say when I needed peat moss for a project, HD and Lowes were out of stock, but Ace Hardware in the next town had plenty of peat moss.

I live in a suburb of Fort Worth, (Tarrant County). Tarrant County has more incorporated cites than any other county in Texas.

Interestingly, I spoke to one of our city counsel members, and she told me our city did okay during the pandemic. The online Amazon purchases still collected sales tax for the city, we have 2 Walmarts, a Sams, and 2 Home Depots in our city that kept the tax dollars flowing. A lot of the retail that left our city to relocate closer to the "big mall" did not fare as well. The big mall is a ghost town with Sears gone, as well as several other anchors.

There are 2 sides to the coin, one being supporting local business, the other being supporting the local tax dollars.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:00 AM   #9
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Yesterday at Home Depot I returned 2 - 3 foot long 1/4" stainless steel threaded rods that I didn't need for my project. There were 5 'sales associates' in the return section and no customers except for me!

A young guy probably in his late 20's waited on me and when he was handling the threaded rods he said "what are these?" I replied "stainless steel threaded rods". He then said "stainless steel?, isn't that real expensive like, and isn't that the stuff they make refrigerators out of?". Then he said "what are these used for?". I thought he was kidding me, but then I realized he was serious! I explained my project and he said "wow, you can fix something like that....why not just buy a new one?"

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Old 06-21-2021, 11:15 AM   #10
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We only have Lowes, Home Depot, McCoys and of course Wal Mart. Lowes is first on my list for hardware stores. I go there specifically for the 10% discount. That being said, I do miss the old fashioned hardware stores I see in other small towns but I don't miss the high prices and the big box stores pump more revenue into the economy. Like others have said, before heading to the store, I check for availability and location in the store. Most times I can get in and out in a couple of minutes and back to my project. I know a lot of folks are anti big box and anti Amazon, but to me their economy of scale has kept prices down. Could you imagine how expensive things would be if we only had mom and pops in rural America?
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timjet View Post
I have a love hate relationship with Loews and Home Depot. I love that they almost have any and everything I need but I hate that it's difficult to find things and they are understaffed. I spend at least 30 minutes each time I go there even if it's for just one thing. You park go in and check out and that takes half the time. Other times I can spend an hour or more and most of that time is trying to find something.
Lowes gives a 10% veteran discount and so does Home Depot but the Depot makes it more difficult.

I love Ace and TrueValue but many times they just don't have what I looking for, like a 2" PVC ball valve at Ace. Quick in and out and someone to help you right at the door. Free popcorn too! I like supporting small business's but I understand a place like Ace can't have the selection of a Home Depot.

So I go to Ace when I can but if I think they might not carry it I'll skip them and go to Lowes. Too bad because they are in opposite directions from our home or I would stop at Ace first.
The HD site will tell you the isle location and amount in stock of an item by location. I don't know about Lowes.

The Walmart app does the same thing as HD.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:29 AM   #12
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I used to hate Ace Hardware because decades ago they moved into a shopping center where an old hardware store had been for many many decades. That old store had everything and had knowledgeable employees, but they couldn't compete with Ace. Fast forward many years later, I go to Ace often instead of Home Depot, but it's just a block up the road if Ace doesn't have it.

By the way the Ace Hardware stores is really vary in how much they carry. There's a really good one about a half hour away. I often end up there, when none of the big box stores or the local Ace have what I need.

Like others, I typically check online to see if they have it in stock at either Home Depot or Lowe's or Ace. What I hate most about Home Depot is that every store is laid out different. So as I'm working around Southern California, each one I stop in I have to figure out where the heck the plumbing section is or where lumber is. I think they do it so you'll wander around and impulse buy things. I mean they're all a big box store, so they could all be laid out exactly the same.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:38 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigd9 View Post
Yesterday at Home Depot I returned 2 - 3 foot long 1/4" stainless steel threaded rods that I didn't need for my project. There were 5 'sales associates' in the return section and no customers except for me!

A young guy probably in his late 20's waited on me and when he was handling the threaded rods he said "what are these?" I replied "stainless steel threaded rods". He then said "stainless steel?, isn't that real expensive like, and isn't that the stuff they make refrigerators out of?". Then he said "what are these used for?". I thought he was kidding me, but then I realized he was serious! I explained my project and he said "wow, you can fix something like that....why not just buy a new one?"

Sometimes I'm frightened by what I see in our future leaders.
It always drives me nuts that we have failed the younger generations in teaching them out to do the simplest of tasks.

I have spoken of it elsewhere, but I was able to complete repairs to my old popup for a fraction of what the dealer quoted me, and after one repair, I was talking to the tech at the dealer and he asked me to explain how I completed the repair. I actually did the repair in a 1/3 of the time he quoted. I wish I was more tech savvy and had video'd the repair, would probably save owners a lot of time. Same goes for the replacement of the relay on the lift motor for my popup, a pretty easy repair of $50 versus a $300 motor replacement.

I do try to avoid Amazon at all costs. The problem I find is that Amazon is often the only game in town for certain items. Google rear view cameras for travel trailers and see what you get. The first few pages of results at least are all Amazon hits.

I replaced the alternator on daughter's car a few years ago, and one of the neighbors, probably in his 40s or 50s, wandered over and said "Wow, you know how to do that?" Didn't have the heart to tell him that tomorrow I would be wearing a suit & tie at my day job.

With Father's Day just yesterday, I guess it makes me appreciate my dad all the more. Sadly, he passed away in 1984, and I have missed him ever since. He would have been 99 this year.

In good news, I have been trying to figure out who to leave my tools to when I die. My oldest grandson was bragging about repairing his AC unit over the weekend, and how you couldn't count all of the cost of the repair, because he got a new tool out of the repair. He will love getting my roll around tool box as well as my assorted other tool pouches and bags. I tried to interest my other grandchildren in tools, but none of them showed any interest.
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Old 06-21-2021, 11:43 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by tap4154 View Post
...

Like others, I typically check online to see if they have it in stock at either Home Depot or Lowe's or Ace. What I hate most about Home Depot is that every store is laid out different. So as I'm working around Southern California, each one I stop in I have to figure out where the heck the plumbing section is or where lumber is. I think they do it so you'll wander around and impulse buy things. I mean they're all a big box store, so they could all be laid out exactly the same.
The Home Depot stores have different footprints depending on square footage. I had a discussion with one of the managers there once, the Home Depot closest to where I worked at the time never seemed to have much inventory. He explained they had X number of SKUS, and the larger stores had many more skus that were stocked.

I have seen a similar situation with Walmarts. All supercenters are not created equal.

I pretty much stick to one Lowes to shop, but it does seem like the other Lowes I have visited are laid out at least slightly different.
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