Both my dad and my brother work for Lowe’s, my mom works for M.A.B. Paints, and my husband used to work for Sears Hardware. My only retail experience was at a small privately-owned non-chain paint store that is now out of business, but I sold Benjamin Moore and Pittsburgh Paint, so I’m rather partial to those two lines (or, I was, until Dad used to and Mom now does work for M.A.B. Paints).
With all this history and the accompanying preference for demonstrations of family loyalty, supporting the family’s employers, and all that, I’ve never had much difficulty deciding where to shop for all things home improvement. Whether planning home renovation in Bethesda, Maryland (with general contractor Hartman) or repainting the family room, very little time is ever wasted in deciding where to go for materials. Thankfully, my family has always worked for companies that dealt in good-merchandise, so family loyalty has demanded very little, if any sacrifice, along the way. To top it all off with a sweet bonus, we have usually all enjoyed family discounts of some kind, as well.
Recently, having family in “the business” has been even better, since my husband and I bought a “fixer-upper” as our first home together. From wallpaper for the dining room to the washer and dryer out in the laundry room, we have been able to get everything we’ve needed, thus far. Besides getting some level of discount on pretty much all of our purchases, working in the stores provides exposure to sales and clearance racks, so we’ve been kept pretty well updated on the best times to get the various things we’ve needed, along the way…just not always in the order and with the timing we might have preferred…ah! the benefits of flexibility!
If it weren’t for this kind of external direction (i.e., recommendations and benefits from family), it would be a whole lot tougher to decide where to shop. Granted, location makes a big difference, but these days, that “other store,” as we Lowe’s devotees call it, is often placed within a few miles of Lowe’s branches, so distance and location doesn’t really make all that much difference, much of the time. Thing is, although both Home Deport and Lowe’s are home-improvement superstores and carry a lot of similar products, there are differences. In the broadest of generalizations, Home Depot focuses more on contractors, so they will tend to carry large quantities of stock, but Lowe’s caters to retail customers, as well, so they offer a broader selection, throughout the store. So, the most appropriate spot to do the shopping may depend entirely upon the perspective of the person doing the shopping.
There are other factors to consider, as well, including customer service. Even the best stocked store may be a nightmare at every visit, if the employees working there are customer-service dropouts. Along the same lines, the organization of the store (or lack thereof) may make for a miserable shopping experience that discourages any future stops.
For the home remodeler in Gaithersburg and the homeowner in Philadelphia, there’s a store to meet pretty much every need…if not one single store, then definitely a combination of stores that can come up with everything necessary for any project. Whatever it is that directs your decision, it’s a grand thing to live in a place where there are so many decisions to be made!