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pete240z
pete240z SuperDork
7/31/11 8:04 p.m.
SVreX wrote:
DrBoost wrote: But, why is it the only thing I buy there that isn't total crap is lumber?
Ummm... as a carpenter with 35 years experience, I can think of no lower quality lumber than that which is offered at the big box stores. I almost NEVER buy lumber at HD or Lowes. Unless, of course, I'm REALLY in the mood to service some callbacks.

Most of the real lumber yards in the Chicago Suburbs along with most of the little town hardware stores have gone out of business.

Menard's lumber isn't bad - HD is good when I want to buy a bolt and washer and don't want to buy a bag of bolts from Menard's.

Menard's has a great potato chip and peanuts in a jar selection. I am spending $200 on some project; throw in a $3 jar of salted nuts to eat in the car on the way home.

mtn
mtn SuperDork
7/31/11 8:14 p.m.
pete240z wrote:
SVreX wrote:
DrBoost wrote: But, why is it the only thing I buy there that isn't total crap is lumber?
Ummm... as a carpenter with 35 years experience, I can think of no lower quality lumber than that which is offered at the big box stores. I almost NEVER buy lumber at HD or Lowes. Unless, of course, I'm REALLY in the mood to service some callbacks.
Most of the real lumber yards in the Chicago Suburbs along with most of the little town hardware stores have gone out of business.

I'm not aware of one still in business within reasonable driving distance of me. Probably 5-10 years ago there were at least 3 within 10 minutes of me.

SyntheticBlinkerFluid
SyntheticBlinkerFluid HalfDork
7/31/11 8:46 p.m.
mtn wrote:
pete240z wrote:
SVreX wrote:
DrBoost wrote: But, why is it the only thing I buy there that isn't total crap is lumber?
Ummm... as a carpenter with 35 years experience, I can think of no lower quality lumber than that which is offered at the big box stores. I almost NEVER buy lumber at HD or Lowes. Unless, of course, I'm REALLY in the mood to service some callbacks.
Most of the real lumber yards in the Chicago Suburbs along with most of the little town hardware stores have gone out of business.
I'm not aware of one still in business within reasonable driving distance of me. Probably 5-10 years ago there were at least 3 within 10 minutes of me.

They built a brand new lumber yard in my town 6 years ago, it went out of business in 2009. I think it was due to poor selection of stuff inside not the lumber. It was one of those Do It Yourself brand stores and they had no hardware stuff inside.

SVreX
SVreX SuperDork
7/31/11 9:04 p.m.
xd wrote:
DrBoost wrote: I could find this out I suppose but, I heard that HD and Lowes are owned by brothers.
Lowes is owned by Walmart. That is why they sell crap and higher high school dropouts who have never hung a picture let alone built anything,

Completely untrue on all counts.

The only thing common to WalMart and Lowes is that they both like blue. HD and Lowes are not owned by brothers. All three are traded independently on the NYSE- they are not subsidiaries of each other, or related in any way.

Lowes was founded 41 years before WalMart in 1921. Sam Walton was 3 years old.

Lowes hiring practices are significantly higher than HD. Completely different business staffing philosophies. HD hires the cheapest staff they can, Lowes has a significant benefit, incentive, and employee enrichment program.

Hire is spelled H-I-R-E, not H-I-G-H-E-R.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot Reader
7/31/11 9:47 p.m.

What SVreX said. My sister-in-law worked at the Lowes in Sanford NC that was destroyed by a tornado a couple of months ago. Lowes gave her the option of working at either of the 2 closest Lowes to Sanford. Both other Lowes are approx. 35 miles away. Lowes is also providing $ to her for additional commuting expense & providing a shuttle for employees who need it. I've occasionally seen surveys of good places to work & Lowes often makes the cut. Also, I own a bit of Lowes stock. I don't think I could own any if Lowes was owned by Walmart.

Strizzo
Strizzo SuperDork
7/31/11 10:28 p.m.

I have two ace stores not far from me, plus a great local hardware place complete with the old guys talking football in the hardware section. They also have an entire aisle of metric and standard taps and dies, along with just about anything else you can think of.

Derick Freese
Derick Freese Dork
7/31/11 10:33 p.m.

My local Lowe's store never hires because people don't normally leave. I had an interview to work there a year or two after they opened, and it's still the most thorough interview I've ever been through, including the interviews to be a manager at the call center.

I don't have a whole lot of issues with either store, but If I can stay away from HD, I'm happier. My local Lowe's hires people that know how to actually help the customers. Lowe's and Tractor Supply are the two stores that I frequent when I need hardware. If I need something really odd, I'll find the time to go to the locally owned fastener store. They have odd hours and mostly cater to bulk customers, but they have a REALLY good selection.

motomoron
motomoron HalfDork
7/31/11 11:20 p.m.

Big box hardware stores buy enough volume that manufacturers produce price-point versions of their core products specifically for them. For example - compare Schlage or Kwikset locksets. Home Despot or Lowes will have versions that look just like what you'd get at a real building supply house (a shameless plug here for T.W. Perry + Leland-Fisher Lumber, both in the DC suburbs and exceptional retailers) but with a slightly different part number.

I've had Schlage Orbit interior knobsets apart bought both at Lowes and at an independent hardware store. The Lowes version was produced much more cheaply with zinc die castings where the other had steel stampings for example. This applies to power and hand tools as well.

I've spent hours picking and re-racking loads of lumber at the big box stores before I knew better. Even the best looking stuff is a warped mess once you get it home even if you rack it carefully. I have stuff delivered from a phone order to Fisher or T.W. Perry and it's uniformly good quality. If I'm getting a lot of stick lumber I'll add maybe 5%, and it's generally overage once I'm done.

What's good about H-D is that they'll take ~anything~ back. The downside is when I've bought a quart of acetone and discovered it's mostly water, or a pail of cove base adhesive which was 1/4 used and had a disposable plastic notched trowel in the pail.

Trans_Maro
Trans_Maro Dork
8/1/11 12:05 a.m.

Stop buying new E36 M3.

New product is throwaway crap.

I bought this same sprinkler at the antique fair today for $12.00:

A couple coats of nice pastel green and cream plus a quick trip to the chrome shop and I'll have a sprinkler that is good to go for another 50 years.

I've given up on buying new stuff (except electronics, it's almost unavoidable), nothing lasts anymore.

The T.V. in my office is a Quasar Space Command console, it works great and it can be fixed by my neighbor who was a T.V. repairman.

My living room furniture is from 1959 and has been reupholstered once and can be done again if needed.

My cars are getting older with every replacement car.

Even my tools keep getting older.

I like items that were made to be repaired, not replaced.

I'm busy overhauling my 1936 Southbend 9C lathe at the moment. Some new bushings and a new motor (only 40 years old instead of 80) and it will be better than new.

I'm aware that I'll probably be into the sprinkler for about $50.00 by the time I'm done but I would spend more than that replacing junk ones every few years.

I've really given up on being a consumer. I hardly ever buy new anymore and when I do, I buy the best I can find.

Shawn

DrBoost
DrBoost SuperDork
8/1/11 6:40 a.m.
Trans_Maro wrote: Even my tools keep getting older. Shawn

Quoted for truth. I got a 1/2 drive ratchet from my dad. It's a Cratsman and he'd had it since he was a young adult. 30+ years later I start using it. IT worked GREAT. It was greaseable and everything. Eventually it did break (using Craftsman tools professionally will do that I'm sad to say). Well, now, in HOME use I've replaced that ratchet 2 more times. So, the original one lasts 40 or more years, and the new replacement (non-greasable) is replaced every 3 or 4?

4cylndrfury
4cylndrfury SuperDork
8/1/11 7:30 a.m.

Having worked in a lumber yard before, a lot of it depends on how it was milled. Big boxes will buy from any Tom, Dick, or Harry Mill. They dont get any kind of relationship with their suppliers. The lumber yard I worked for was very specific and choosey about who supplied their lumber and the quality of the product they supplied. As such, we developed a repertoire with them, which in turn resulted in superior product. We also stocked various hardware bits, but not pretty flowered garden gloves or 62 different ceiling fans, or the latest in throwaway appliances (dont get me started on my "brand new, top of the line" refrigerator ). They did lumber, and contractor supplies - windows, doors, trim, nuts/bots/fasteners, some construction tools like pneumatics and such, shingles, concrete and supplies, gutters, siding, insulation...when we finally started to stock a soda machine, we were all floored. Too bad the company is struggling now and closing stores. Id much rather have shopped there than the big boxes. Theres only 1 ace anywhere near me. Id prefer Ace or 84 any day of the week over the big boxes

pete240z
pete240z SuperDork
8/1/11 7:45 a.m.

There is one small family owned hardware store in Lemont, Illinois - Approx 25-30 miles SW of downtown Chicago. Peterson's Hardware.

It has that firetrap feel to it and they have everything you need; if you can find it. Part museum, part hardware store. These are pictures from the web but the entire store is this cobbled together. It is worth a trip to look around.

mndsm
mndsm SuperDork
8/1/11 8:05 a.m.

Home Depot has good lumber? I've seen straighter 2x4's modeled after a slinky.

pinchvalve
pinchvalve GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/1/11 10:55 a.m.

Home Depot's customer service was declining to the point of total system failure. I walked out a few times after the self-service lanes (the ONLY option BTW) failed to let me pay because it couldn't detect the weight of my purchase. I swore them off forever, since Lowes is across the street and 100 times better anyway.

HD has been claiming that they lost their way and that they are on the way back. Amex points only buys HD cards, so I recently gave them another shot I was amazed at the changes in customer service and the ability to actually check out finally. They even fixed the self-service lanes (a skip bagging button, how hard was that?) and added people at a checkout or two. The last lady to check me out was rude and mean, but at least she was there.

So Lowes still has my loyalty, but HD will do in a pinch.

Hocrest
Hocrest HalfDork
8/1/11 11:19 a.m.

I have an 84 Lumber within a mile of the house and an Ace within 2. If they had decent hours I would do more of my shopping there. There are also 2 plumbing wholesale shops that I frequent.

Lowes and HD are about 5 & 6 miles and get most of my evening and weekend business. Also if I just want to look around and play with all of the plumbing or electrical fittings to piece together something unusual, I go there. Of the two, I used to mainly go to Lowes because it is a little closer and 4 less traffic lights. But the last few times at HD I was impressed with the customer service. When I asked the guy for brazing rods, he not only knew what I was looking for and knew that they were no longer stocked. But he took the time to call a few local small hardware stores to see if they were open and if they had any.

Giant Purple Snorklewacker
Giant Purple Snorklewacker SuperDork
8/1/11 11:35 a.m.
motomoron wrote: Big box hardware stores buy enough volume that manufacturers produce price-point versions of their core products specifically for them.

^This

Those John Deere, Simplicity, Stihl, Lincoln etc... products at the big boxes are cheapened crap versions of the good stuff because the 800 pound gorilla wants to squeeze everything down to the lowest price point. The mfg's can sell enough volume to make it up because HD will sell 20:1 over a tractor dealer - but they need to get the product cost down somehow. Buy a JD tractor at HD and then try to go buy parts for it at a JD dealer - DOH! Not the same model.

If you want good product you have to pay a little more somewhere else.

gamby
gamby SuperDork
8/1/11 5:03 p.m.

Sadly, my local Ace went under a couple of years ago.

HD clearly changed philosophies a few years back. They used to have decently-paid, experienced people working there. Now it's a skeleton crew of minimum wagers who have no motivation to go out of their way for anyone.

DaveEstey
DaveEstey HalfDork
8/1/11 6:38 p.m.

Everytime I go to HD and have to ask for help finding something it seems I end up teaching them about hardware and then finding the part myself.

Then again I went to Autozone and asked if they had an accessory drive belt for my miata and he asked me where the belt was located and then said "Cars have so many parts" on his name tag it said "Parts Manager"

dimeadozen
dimeadozen Reader
8/1/11 6:46 p.m.

I used to try and save a few cents on hardware going to the big boxes, but now I generally go to the Ace that I have to pass to get to both. The older guys running the hardware department let me browse in peace, and I get free popcorn to munch on while doing so.

Relatively speaking, their selection of metric hardware is mind boggling. The local Lowes has TWO drawers that are supposed to contain specialty metric hardware, but they were never stocked from the time the store was opened, just used to store spare drawer dividers.

Home Depot has a relatively decent selection, but their slogan must be "The Customer is Always a Moron." I went there looking to buy a threaded plug to plug a vacuum line port on an intake. I specifically asked the employee where their BRASS pipe fittings were, and made the mistake of telling him what was for.

He told me which aisle, but then said "Find someone to ask, though - We have some that are plastic, and some that look like metal but are plastic, and if you use either one of those, it might fail, and then we'd be liable!"

Every time I've been to either store and ask where their MDF is, they try convincing me that I'm actually looking for OSB...

I think Hank Hill had the best response to the generic big box "What is it you're trying to do?" His response was "Buy a dang framing hammer and get out of this Godforsaken store!"

Taiden
Taiden HalfDork
8/1/11 6:47 p.m.

This is GRM. Couldn't you just make a sprinkler out of a briggs 1 horse and a vw diesel injection pump?

confuZion3
confuZion3 SuperDork
8/1/11 6:50 p.m.

Wait, how can you hate mowing the grass? Stick me on a John Deere on a 90 degree day in the sun and I'm happy. It's one of the things I miss most about my parents' house. That was my job and you bet your smurfin' ass that we had the best lawn in the neighborhood. At the end, I mowed so that all the lines were parallel and I mowed in a back-and-fourth motion, starting from the street--not a round-and-round-until-you-hit-the-middle motion).

And the smell of freshly-cut grass... much better than the smell of freshly-plowed snow.

I can't wait until I have my own house. I gotta wait until I'm all growed up I guess.

confuZion3
confuZion3 SuperDork
8/1/11 6:53 p.m.
DaveEstey wrote: Everytime I go to HD and have to ask for help finding something it seems I end up teaching them about hardware and then finding the part myself.

My dad has befriended an employee at our local HD. They just chat about old VWs and their restoration projects. I'm not sure if he even goes there to buy anything anymore...

f86sabjf
f86sabjf Reader
8/1/11 7:17 p.m.

Our local Lowes and HD have both went in the crapper but i have several ACE stores and not only do they have what i need the people inside know where it is and how to use it.

Really sad about these bigger stores . My Dad worked for HD for 23yrs before they changed ownership . After that they started phasing out the knowledgable people. At one time if you were in the plumbing dept the person either was or had been a plumber before. Sadly that has went away .

wbjones
wbjones SuperDork
8/1/11 8:03 p.m.
confuZion3 wrote: Wait, how can you hate mowing the grass? Stick me on a John Deere on a 90 degree day in the sun and I'm happy. It's one of the things I miss most about my parents' house. That was my job and you bet your smurfin' ass that we had the best lawn in the neighborhood. At the end, I mowed so that all the lines were parallel and I mowed in a back-and-fourth motion, starting from the street--not a round-and-round-until-you-hit-the-middle motion). And the smell of freshly-cut grass... much better than the smell of freshly-plowed snow. I can't wait until I have my own house. I gotta wait until I'm all growed up I guess.

it's very easy to hate mowing grass.... yellow jackets love my yard... at least with a walk behind I have a chance of getting away with only 1 or 2 stings ... on a rider it's pretty hard to bail quickly enough and the mower can't run fast enough to keep from being covered up.... wish there was a way to treat the yard so the jackets would go somewhere else

Lesley
Lesley SuperDork
8/1/11 8:04 p.m.

I agree with Trans_Maro. I'm so offended by disposable crap and the businesses practices of some of these box stores that I'd rather buy used. Been doing that for years now - with some things there's a level of craftsmanship that you just won't find at Wally World or the Home Despot. Things like irons, coffee makers, blenders and other small appliances I get at places like Value Village, paying $10 or so. Most of them last as long as you'd expect a new appliance to, and even if they don't, I'm not out a lot of money. Home Depot is within walking distance for me - I might go once a year if I need something small for a repair job. Otherwise, no thanks.

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