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Don't know if any of the folks here work for any of these places, but if any of us do, the management at these places needs a serious wake up call. Mrs LSG and I are in the process of building a small living space above our garage, because the house burned and is not yet rebuilt. We had a motorhome that had lots of trouble, so we returned it. So we need a place to stay instead of hanging at sister's house all of the time. So we need LOTS of stuff.
We went to the box stores first, thinking they have everything. Wanted baffles to put on bottom of roof deck to prevent ice dams in winter. All 3 box stores have cardboard and styrofoam crappy ones that don't really do their job. Went online and ordered some really nice ones from the manufacturer. A manufacturer that none of the 3 big boxes carried. We want to insulate, and again, the big 3 boxes offer the normal yellow scratchy stuff, and a very bad version of mineral wool. Nothing else in stock. So, we look online and find the material we want, and called the manufacturer and asked who sells that ? We can have things shipped that the BB 3 don't even know exist. Wanted a high flow shower head, BB 3 have low flow, so we bought online. Wanted deeper kitchen sinks than 6~8 inches. Not only do the BB3 not have them, they don't seem able to even order them. found 10 & 12 inch deep stainless sinks online. It seems no matter the product, the BB 3 have the less desirable, inferior version on display. I'm not surprised that they don't always have the nice stuff in stock, I know it costs more. But the BB 3 don't seem to even be able to ORDER me the good stuff. They have the crap in their normal distribution channels, and thats it. So, why did I bother shopping there at all ? If Corona virus has people frightened and they don't want to leave the house, even though they have websites and curbside pickup, how do the BB3 think they will survive if folks realize they don't have much to offer ? Online sales are going to have a very bad effect on these places if they don't dramatically improve product offering. LSG
 

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The BB 3 serve their purpose, basic items sold in quantity. As you mention, plumbing fixtures is a good example. Kohler, for example, makes some wild stuff. Only a small portion is available at the BB 3. It probably does not make sense for them to carry every possible item...even by special order due to their central logistics system. It would just be too many SKUs. Plumbing supply places, or online are the best bet, as you found. I found the same when I remodeled a bathroom. Tub, toilet and tile were all available at HD (tub special order) but sink, faucet and shower mixing valve, shower bar and toilet accessories were all on line orders.
 

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I have to agree, online is the way to go now days. I looked online at the local bbs and the wife picked out a sink, it said they had one in stock. I drove over, looked for it, no dice, asked the area employee and he said "that's probably my display one." can I buy the display? "No, it's glued in." I said well then you DON'T have one in stock.... "I guess not." Fortunately I found one on FB from a local plumber that had a tiny chip in the back. Not an issue for a house that is going on the market asap.

Last year, before we decided to relocate to sunny Florida, I wanted to add on to my shop. Same width, just taller. Trying to get the "contractor rep" to understand this was infuriating. He just couldn't understand how I was going to make it work since the roof line wouldn't line up. Then I get the quote from him and he priced it as I was going to build a stand alone building the size of my add on.
It seems they have taken the walmart approach, selling cheaply made goods is the way to go.
 

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Stores cater to the needs of the majority, quick sales on quick turn around items.
 

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They're the same as WalMart, it's all about the price beatdown. If you don't have the lowest prices, the average customer won't shop in your store. There are major brand plumbing suppliers that make cheaper versions of their high end fittings just for the big box stores to sell. The nicer and pricey ones just don't sell there. You can't run a business stocking what people don't want to buy.
You can't really blame them. It's how their business model turns a profit and your average amateur DIY type that they cater to is happy enough with it. I commend LSG on his better taste though.
 

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The other frustrating part is that if you find a smaller place that carries what you want, they price it like it's made out of gold. I understand that it costs money to carry something in inventory, but when you're selling me an expensive faucet for $50 more than online, then tell me I need to wait for it to come in, that argument goes out the window.
 

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I go to the gym with the owner of a local home grocery store which is right down the street from my house. Naturally, his offerings are way different from the larger national chains. For instance, he has a real butcher shop with hands down the best meat in North Alabama. He has a real pizza bar (which happens to have also been a local restaurant from the 60’s that he purchased). He generally only stocks items that sell frequently and generally doesn’t have nearly as many options as the national chains. I was talking to him this morning about how COVID-19 had affected his business model. He told me he had a discussion with his supply/stock manager a few weeks ago and told him whatever items were sitting on their almost barren shelves of late, to place those items on a discount shelf and to never order them again. So it’s all about stocking what MOST customers want to buy...and not the few individuals looking for extreme specialty items.
 

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The other frustrating part is that if you find a smaller place that carries what you want, they price it like it's made out of gold. I understand that it costs money to carry something in inventory, but when you're selling me an expensive faucet for $50 more than online, then tell me I need to wait for it to come in, that argument goes out the window.
Put yourself in the Mom&Pop store owners shoes.
 

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What store Generally offers the better service?
 

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Locals...always.

Same for hardware stores. We have a local hardware store downtown Huntsville (Opened 1928) that has things that no other national chain has. I ALWAYS shop there before anywhere else.
 

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And they’ll walk you right to the isle!
 

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Put yourself in the Mom&Pop store owners shoes.
I'm not saying I don't understand, I try to patronize local as much as possible. One of the local performance shops closed last year because he was tired of customers trying to beat him up on price or bringing in stuff they bought on Amazon or ebay for him to install. It was a Corvette-centric shop and a lot of the stuff they were bringing in was counterfeit and then he had the nightmare of explaining that. Some didn't want to believe him thinking he was just trying to protect his business, when he was really trying to protect their car and his reputation.
 

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There's a reason I call them Mentards, Blowe's, and Home Despot.
 

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All too often the "help" has no idea. Not too long ago I was looking for a specific tap (as in tap & die). I could not find them and when I asked the person looked at me like I was from Mars. Even after explaining what a tap does...deer in headlights. Errrr
 

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I agree with most of what has been said about the BB stores.
My suggestion for a solution would be to do what I did building my garage. I wasn't afraid to look at all the local lumber yards and building supply businesses. In some cases the prices were a little more. The majority of the prices were comparable or better than the big box stores, the service is 1000 percent better, and the products were 100 times better.
In fact, I will say the only blessing in my whole build is finding and using my local lumber yard. I would have never known or learned about the best windows. All my lumber was better priced and a better grade lumber. I got most things delivered with a very minimal delivery charge, and that was less than the BB stores.
This happened this week.
I went to HD to get some paint, caulk, and flashing. I waited in line to get in. No big deal, it is the new normal. I was going to pick up a single 4x8 sheet of T111 to use on the garage. The associate pointed to the aisle it was located at. I could not find the 4" groove style I used on the rest of the garage. Maybe they had it, maybe they didn't. They had no example board, and most of the ply was stacked upside down or so high you could not see it. So I passed.

My lumber yard closes early now because of Covid 19. They close at 3 pm.
I called them at 2 pm the next day. They did the order by phone. I showed up 15 minutes later. They could not find in my record what specific style T111 I purchase previously. The manager came right out. Let me in the store, even though it was closed for Covid 19, pickup only. I showed him the style on the sample board. They were on it asap. Got the order done in moments. While I waited for the ply, I would be asked by several employee's every few moments if I had been helped yet. They have always treated me like I was the most important customer they have. Even for (1) 4x8 sheet of T111. Of course I have spent over $20,000.00 with them in the last year. Then again they know that, and I am treated like they appreciate my business.
Once this Covid 19 restrictions lift. Go check out some local lumber yards. You might be amazed at what you find.
 

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Throughout this whole thing, I've never seen my local lowes or home depot busier. 2PM on a Tuesday? Packed. Weekends? Barely any empty parking spaces.
 

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I can very often go to my local lumberyard and buy better quality materials for less money and I'm supporting a local family business.
Our local big box stores have also been packed with people during this pandemic, in fact everything that remained open has been swamped. Its what happens when officials dont consider or even slightly understand human behavior and close everything else. I waited in line for 30 minutes just to buy a wax ring for a leaking toilet one Sunday afternoon at Lowe's.
 

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There's a reason I call them Mentards, Blowe's, and Home Despot.
Never thought of the first 2, but I have been using #3 for quite awhile. Thanks for the laugh!
 

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Menards, a while back sold a "cotton" rolled insulation. It was the bomb for people like me with asthma and allergy's. Obviously not a big seller and no longer available. 99.9% of the populous what cheap over quality and look where it has gotten us! And Cal, you are normally on the mega cheap side of the scale? Correct me if I am wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
MikeNail, well, I am not sure how to answer / correct that. Mega cheap ? No, but I wouldn't object to 'thoughtful, frugal, careful'. We buy 2000~2005 3.8 V6 powered Chevy Impalas as non-Mustang drivers, usually pay less than $1000. we are driving car #6. With 1 exception, they've all been silver. Many don't realize we aren't driving the same Impala as 18 yrs ago, but, it looks like we have been driving the same beater for the whole time ! But, we had purchased a brand new motorhome, and more than 20 yrs ago purchased a place in the UP. I'm guessing mega cheap wouldn't do the Upper Penninsula or the motorhome. On our 'barndominium' or garage apartment idea,...we're doing it because, well, it seems like a good spend. We've looked at houses and such, and considered buying something, but,.......I don't really want to spend the money on a house I don't want, to just live there 5-6 yrs. And the site of our burned -down house, we have 200 amp power, a well, a septic system, and all of the upstairs garage space, and its all just sitting there, and we already own it. Does that make a fellow cheap ? or thrifty ? Mrs LSG always bought me thrift store jeans & pants for everything except synagogue attendance,.....because my work always destroyed them....cheap or frugal ? My son complained that why are we running a dual plane and 289 heads on our 302 ? He wanted a funnel web single. Well, I replied, we are currently running an automatic and 3.0 gears, with power steeerig, power brakes and A/C, and YOUR MOTHER is going to ride in the car with me, and we already HAVE THEM ! Is that cheap, frugal, or just trying to match the parts to the application ? When shopping for a showerhead, no store had what I wanted at any price, so I bought online. When shopping for kitchen sink, the BB 3 had stainless 6 or 8 inch deep, and that was it. Wanted 12"s, and found them, at 900$, could not justify the price and bought 10" deep for $220. Always the reaction was 'why do want so deep ? ' I should have responded 'why do you care what I want, I'm paying you'......

And in this whole debacle, we need insulation. The BB 3 have the normal yellow scratchy stuff, and thats about it. They can't even order the good stuff. So we call the manufacturer and ask 'who sells your stuff'. Then we drove just over an hour to an insulation wharehouse ( I didn't know there was such a thing ) and they have every concievable type of insulation, including your 'cotton'. And blue jean insulation, and shredded basalt, and molten glass foam, and treated newspapers and all kinds of stuff I had never even thought of. The barndominium has me learning lots. Sorry to ramble, my whole concept of time has evaporated. None of my normal markers are running. I would normally be going to synagogue today, but our congregation does not currently own a building, so we rent space from a church, which is closed due to either corona virus fears or the whims of Governor Gretchen. Anyways, I hope you all are having a good Shabbat. LSG

And, just thought about kitchen counter height. Why is 36 inch the standard ? Well, it turns out the US government, in 1939, when the average woman was about 5 ft 2 or 3, needed them about that height. So that became standard. Folks generally react with horror when we explain that we want counters 40 inches tall. Not really sure why so many are so freaked about that, but I am raising everything in the kitchen. Mrs LSG is 6'1",....so why do I need to worry about what short people need ? They can build their OWN house, the way THEY want. okay, rant off
 
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