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I miss the local hardware store........ minor rant....(22 posts)

I miss the local hardware store........ minor rant....Dave Hickey
Oct 18, 2002 10:04 AM
Last night, I needed at couple of 10mm x 1 nuts, so off I went to Home Depot. Once I convinced the 17 year old kid what a metric bolt and nut was, we determined they didn't stock 10mm x 1 metric nuts. I hop in the car and head over to Lowes. The 17 year olds brother worked at Lowes. No metric nuts in my size. The only hardware store within 10 miles of my house closed when Home Depot and Lowes moved in last year. I finally found them today at a hareware store near my office. This is progress?????????
Are there any Sears hardware stores near you?Kristin
Oct 18, 2002 10:55 AM
I never have trouble finding help at Home Depot, but I have found that the answers vary depending on who I'm talking too. The Sears Hardware guys seem a little older and a little more knowledgable...the store probably pays better than Home Depot.
Reminds me of the auto parts store ploy.Spoke Wrench
Oct 19, 2002 5:43 AM
When a guy goes into an auto parts store, the counter help seems to have two objectives. 1. To make sure that you are aware they know more about about fixing cars than you. 2. To make sure that you don't benefit from their knowledge in any way.

Long ago I learned that the way around that was to send in one of my foxy daughters. The parts store guys trip over themselves to be as helpful as they possibly can.
Hmmm...Kristin
Oct 21, 2002 5:15 AM
I spent most of this weekend in Home Depot and learned in entirety: What a drill is, how to use a drill, how to locate studs in a wall, every type of window casing made and what types of screws to use for each, how to drill out the hole, how to determine what weight screws to use, how to remove and re-allign cabinet doors. They even let me in after they closed to recut a window shade that was a tad too long. Not one did I encounter a 16 year old boy. These are all 40+ men with grown kids and plenty of carpentry experience. You're saying all of this is thanks to the fact that I'm a girl?
yes and nomr_spin
Oct 21, 2002 7:24 AM
Women are a huge target for Home Depot, because they already have the men. Home Depot even has women-only classes now.

But just because the corporation targets women doesn't mean it filters down to every employee at the store level. I'll bet you got such great service because

1. you weren't a jerk
2. you were willing to learn
3. you were interested in what they had to say
4. they probably recognize you by now, and remember you because of 1, 2, and 3.
exactlyColnagoFE
Oct 21, 2002 10:24 AM
some guys probably barge in and act like they know it all--especially when it comes to home improvement. this advice probably applies to your local bike shop as well. sure there are guys/gals at both shops who dont have a clue, but if you listen you just might learn something.
I hear ya, Dave.MXL02
Oct 18, 2002 10:55 AM
They are definitely becoming dinosaurs. The only one in my neighborhood also doubles as a high end gift shop. The prices are horrendous as well.
Dave, you are so right. We lost a number ...rwbadley
Oct 18, 2002 11:21 AM
of small mom and pop hardware stores when the big boxes moved in. Nearly every time I go into one of these places, I come out seething, for any number of reasons.

I sure miss P&S Hardware, Supply One, and Commercial Hardware
Another "I hear ya"No_sprint
Oct 18, 2002 12:11 PM
Our local hardware store closed about 2 months ago. No Home Depot or Loews near either.
Not progress, just the market, and most of us share blame...PdxMark
Oct 18, 2002 12:25 PM
We the consuming public generally seem to value low prices, or even the perception of low prices, over service (or sometimes just the perception of service). Big Box stores hit nearly all small competitors the same... Walmarts emptying downtowns - and even K-marts too... Of course, it would be the Big Boxes that closed down if We (speaking generally, not as to anyone in particular) didn't go to them... but We do.

It's really no different from ordering bikes & bike stuff online, or better yet, online from overseas, to get the price that's so much better than an LBS can match. There are tons of threads on this board about how not to buy from an LBS to save $$$. It's sad, yes, but the collective We generally seem to think that our savings in time, money, or both from buying at a Big Box or on the Net are worth more to us than supporting a local (small) business. It's just the market
I agree.........Dave Hickey
Oct 18, 2002 12:33 PM
I'm as much to fault as anyone for their demise. My average purchase at a hardware store was under $5.00. At Home Depot or Loews, I can't get away for less than $100.00. I just miss the convenience of stopping in and buying 1 bolt and having the owner know exactly where it's located.
There is a bit of a paradox here.czardonic
Oct 18, 2002 12:42 PM
Home Depot et. al. are supposed to be putting the little guys out of business because the could use their size to leverage down prices, offer more selection, etc.

But what I am seeing and hearing here is that at best they are doing half the job. They have low prices on what they do sell, but they don't tend to offer much selection. I feel the same way walking into Target: all this product and not a single thing I want to buy. Everything these giant stores sell tends to be crap. It better be cheap!

A store the size of Home Depot or Loews and no metric hardware? Even if they had it, what are the chances they would sell them individually? And would you want to wait in the inevitable interminably long line to buy 2 nuts? Thank goodness there are many small shops still open in my area (even if they are all owned by Ace these days)! They don't sell refrigerators or windows, but they do sell a broad range of hardware.
"Ace" HardwarePaulCL
Oct 18, 2002 4:59 PM
"Ace" is not a company, but a national co-op for individually owned hardware stores. The co-op allows them to buy at bulk prices without buying the bulk. Ace allows our small hardware stores to stay in business. The hardware stores are still owned by some one locally and run locally.

I have a Home Depot, Lowes, and small hardware store within a few miles of me. Within the last 3 years, two big, locally owned boxes, a "Furrows" and "Icantremember" both went out of business. The HD, Lowes and two defunct 'boxes' were all within 1 mile of each other. ONE MILE...ridiculous.
Re: Ace. Good to know. (nm)czardonic
Oct 21, 2002 9:47 AM
I think the strategy is changing too. Watch the prices rise.Kristin
Oct 21, 2002 5:55 AM
I wonder if Home Depot's parent isn't retargeting their strategy. Now that they own the lions share of the hardware/lumber market what motivation do they have to keep prices low? But they must raise prices without outraging customers. How will they do that? Well, they introduce a new company, Expo, and quadruple the price of items that Home Depot carries. Expo is so outrageously overpriced its sad. But, if Home Depots prices inch upward, who will notice? They will always look reasonable compared to the guy down the street.

Does anyone else think that its time for some new retail legislature?
That's exactly what should happen.McAndrus
Oct 21, 2002 10:19 AM
According to economics, once one competitor begins to have the power to set prices this competitor will begin to raise those prices. This is absolutely normal and my company only wishes it had that power because that's how we make money and that's how I feed my children.

However, the other interesting experience is that as soon as the competitor raises it's price too high a new competitor will enter the market offering similar products at lower prices (Scattante? Motobecane?). It's inevitable - that's how Home Depot got there - beating the local Mom&Pop on pricing and Sears on selection.

If you want a very rough rule of thumb to understand product pricing ask yourself this question: how much information is in the product? If I buy a quantity of 50 1/4 inch bolts in a box - there is very little information in the product. If I buy one 10mm bolt and nut there is more information - to begin with the hardware clerk has to know what metric means - and a higher carrying cost.

In a town where I used to live there was an excellent Mom&Pop hardware store. When the box companies moved in they shifted their products. After a couple of years they were the best high-end Christmas decoration and gift store in the area and - oh-by-the-way - still offered the onesies-twoies little hardware stuff. Last I heard they were doing very well.

Once in a while I'm overwhelmed in a Lowe's myself but I don't look at it as if I've entered the dark side. It's just part of the natural evolution of commerce.

If Home Depot overplays its pricing power - which many fine companies in the past have, like Sears - then potential competitors will notice and jump in.
Oh, and one more thingMcAndrus
Oct 21, 2002 10:23 AM
I appreciate that you make the effort to do this kind of thing, Kristin. My wife decided a long time ago that these kinds of tasks were "boy things." Every time her car needs work I have to take care of it. Every time we buy any kind of hardware, I buy it.

Yesterday she decided she wanted to put a college license plate on her minivan. It takes exactly two sheet-metal screws and one screwdriver to do this. Guess who got the chore?

And, honestly, I really do appreciate that you do these kinds of things.
A matter of necessity reallyKristin
Oct 21, 2002 11:42 AM
If I had gotten married before the age of 25, or had lived at home or nearby dad's house longer, then I'm sure I'd be much more dependant. That's part of it anyway. The fact is, that if I don't do this stuff, no one will. It doesn't hurt that I'm a third generation inventor. I have a sort of curiosity about me that has been handed down over the generations. I like to play with stuff. Sometimes thats not a good thing.
Yes, but Expo and Home Depot are not really competitorsKristin
Oct 21, 2002 10:36 AM
They are subs of the same parent. So really, some organization at the top end is getting filthy rich by driving up all of his own prices thru what only looks like "competition." Doesn't seem fair. I think there should be some laws to limit a corporations ability to do this. If they were true competitors I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Right, but Lowe's will be,TJeanloz
Oct 22, 2002 7:12 AM
There are laws that prohibit corporations from establishing monopolies, which is effectively what you're claiming Home Depot is doing. However, in this case, as Home Depot raises their prices, Lowe's or some other such company (Lumber Liquidators, etc.) will build a big box right next to Home Depot, and "out-big-box" them.

The question becomes to what degree is Home Depot your only option? And we also must recognize that HD may be raising its prices not to get rich, but because its costs are rising- in which case, there probably won't be much new competition. The barriers to entry, which allow monopolies to develop, simply don't exist in most retail environments.
re: I miss the local hardware store I agreejrm
Oct 18, 2002 6:42 PM
im lucky enough to have a real good local hardware store wher i live. Home Depot sucks...
Do It Bests are nice....girchygirchy
Oct 19, 2002 6:24 PM
The local hardware store went out of business a couple years ago because of our Lowe's (and now a Home Depot set to open next month, dear god will it ever end?), I was disappointed. Thankfully, the owners now manage a new Do It Best hardware store they brought here. Same great service, decent prices, I'm happy.