home improvement stores
Home Improvement Store

Navigating Hardware / Home Improvement Stores

My hubs likes to say that I’m the happiest when I’m going to a hardware store / home improvement store 🙂  This is a true fact. I can spend hours walking around, looking at products and getting ideas. (I even carry a notebook with me so that I can write down any ideas or products that I see – and the project ideas those products trigger!)  Okay, so I’m probably not the norm, but growing up,  my father took me into Fairfax Hardware every Saturday morning…on our way to go fishing or hunting (his perogative). The men would sit around the coffee pot in the back and catch up (gossip if you really want to know). We also bought our fishing licenses from the same back area of the hardware store. Since I had to find something to do with idle time whilst my dad shot the breeze with his cronies, I wandered the aisles looking at all the different products for sale. I believe this is where it all began.

Today, I am probably more at home in a hardware / home improvement store than in a major department store.

But that may not be the case for you.

Just like grocery stores, hardware and home improvement stores have your basic categories of products.  Since every store is different, in order to navigate the store, and become comfortable with it, I recommend the following approach:

1 – set aside time to visit your local hardware / home improvement store WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING. Allot 30 minutes to just meander through the store. Bring a notebook if you wish to write down any items you want to go back to look at.

2 – walk around the perimeter of the store first — for home improvement stores, that usually means large lumber/building supplies on one end, and garden center/outdoor items on the other end of the store. Hardware stores are usually different and Ace is the only one I have been in for years and they have it sectioned off a little differently. Let’s stick with your Home Depots and Lowes.

3 – in the center of the store is usually where you find appliances and kitchen cabinetry – maybe this is because you are stuck in the middle of the store and its the least likely inventory to move or change? I don’t know but I do know that if I walk into either of these stores, I’m going to find appliances in the heart of the store.

4 – bathrooms…very important…always at the very back of the store and usually towards one of the corners of the store – rarely in the middle of the back of the store. This is always key location for me to identify since with all that walking around, I’m bound to visit this spot at some point in my trip.

5 – tool corral – also known as where the POWER TOOLS are located! Okay, so this is an awesome place for me to dream. Don’t be intimidated by the tool corral area (some stores might have it closed off with only one entrance since the tools are pricey). Usually there are dedicated staff for these areas due to the expense of the items (monitoring the tools), so feel free to ask questions! I have never asked a question in the tool corral section where I was made to feel stupid or inferior in any way.

6 – Paint section – there are usually cans of paint that people have returned and I have found some decent colors. Keep in mind that the store clerk has to add a color to the paint so it may be an unusual shade. That worked well for me on a master bedroom project I did – found 3 gallons of paint for $5 – can’t beat that price! Usually the person who works in the section has knowledge about paint. Most stores now have idea areas where you can place the paint sample you like into a lighted box and see how it would look in different types of light. Remember that paint color is affected by the light source and types of light – the pigmentation reacts to outside light sources.

7 – cleaning supplies – bet you didn’t know that you can find MOST of your home cleaning supplies now in home improvement stores! I was at one of the Home Depots near me earlier this week (surprise!) and noticed that they moved the cleaning supplies from over near the grills / outdoor garden equipment to the MAIN AISLE when you enter the store – great product placement! Especially if you never knew they had these items.

This is enough to get you started on exploring your local home improvement store. Since this is one of my favorite places to shop, I will stop here for today’s post. I hope you feel less intimidated by these stores and look for more specific information on specific sections of these stores in future posts.

Home Repair

Making Returns on Home Repair Items

Since I started making home repairs and doing projects around the home (let’s date that back to my teenage years – so the late 70s, ahem), a lot has changed regarding the ease of making returns when we never use a product we purchased…

Wait a minute…you’ve never done that? Are you kidding me? Well let me tell you about me…

In recently cleaning out all the tubs of “stuff” in my utility room, I came across an inordinate amount of unopened items…you know the stuff you buy when you’ve got this GREAT idea for a home project…and it never happens…yeah, that’s me too. I gathered all the items together and had a flash of genius! What if I scanned each item to see if it existed in the Home Depot iOS app on my phone? Sure enough, the majority of the items did turn out to be Home Depot items and that meant I could return them, without a receipt, and get a gift card in exchange. How cool is that? Times are a changing.

What about the items that didn’t scan? (btw – the app pops up an “oops” message if it can’t find it in stock in Home Depot). For those item, I used a barcode scanner app also on my iPhone and most of the products are listed on amazon. If it says more than one product seller found, you can click on it and it will list the sellers. That is how I found out that two of my items came from Target and Walmart – not Home Depot.

Out of all the items I gathered together – and there were a LOT of items – I was able to return to Home Depot all but 4 items. To the tune of almost $300 in store gift card. Seriously? Sweet!!! Of course I will reuse those funds for other projects that I will hopefully actually complete 🙂

Don’t be afraid to scan away at any unopened/still in package items you find around your home that you are not going to use. Heck, go to yard sales and scan any items you find there!!! Take them back. The worst that any store can say is “no” but today, the few “no’s” outweighed the monies I recovered.