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View Full Version : Home Depot v Lowes v Menards - any real difference?


chiroptera
07-14-2011, 01:52 PM
I'm starting phase two of home improvement projects on the house I bought last summer. Couple of new windows, front door, covered front porch and deck.

Last summer I shopped at both HD and Lowes, comparing prices for big-ticket items first. This spring, a third big box store has opened in my area - Menards. Never been there; I'm about to head over to look around. If they have a better price/selection on steel entry doors, I'll be coming home with one this afternoon.

In my experience, Lowes is better for "decorator" type items such as window coverings, lighting, storage units, etc. Lowes donated lumber for a bridge and elevated path at a park I've done some volunteer work in, so I have a soft spot for them on that score.

Home Depot - at least the one I go to - seems to have more readily-available staff to help find things and answer questions. My local HD also has the edge on landscaping supplies and their website is easier to search and navigate.

Price-wise, they're about the same and I believe both offer to match any competitor price, so that's sort of a wash.

I also made liberal use of craigslist and Habitat ReStore last year, and try to shop smaller/locally-owned businesses asw much as possible. However, for lumber and so on, I've yet to find better prices than the big box places and I don't have a ton of money to play with.

Omar Little
07-14-2011, 02:00 PM
I agree with you on Lowes and HD. I've only been in Menards once. The store I was in was the worst laid out store I have ever been in. They don't have as wide a selection of things as Lowes and HD have, but they carry a bunch of weird type products that don't really fit into a home improvement store. Like a few aisles of groceries, cheap t-shirts and pants. I even saw actual Member's Only brand jackets in this place. You could probably find a good price on a basic product, but you won't have much selection.

Jophiel
07-14-2011, 02:33 PM
Yeah, Menard's has some strange stuff. Not just the usual "Case of Gatorade" by the registers but an actual (short) aisle of snacks and party-sized bags of chips and stuff.

The real similarity is that none of them carried the "three panel" style tomato cages I wanted today and I finally found them at Sears hardware.

For general hardware items I might need (box of nails, hose adapters, step ladder) I'd go wherever is closest. I do agree that Lowes seems to strive for a more "decorator's" appeal in their store style and selection.

Typo Negative
07-14-2011, 02:51 PM
Lowes is generally cleaner that HD. And not as many day laborers.

At least in my area.

TriPolar
07-14-2011, 03:11 PM
Around here Lowes is well stocked and the staff are helpful. Home Depot is the opposite. Never been to or seen a Menards.

Magiver
07-14-2011, 03:45 PM
Mennards has a better plumbing section hands down. Better prices too. I would rank Home Depot the worst for stock of just about anything useful. I would drive past a nearby HD to go to Mennards or Lowes.

chiroptera
07-14-2011, 03:57 PM
Just back from Menards - Omar Little, you're correct, they have aisles and end caps of odd things. Books, clothes, food, pet food, oddball home decor stuff. Oh also automotive supplies.
I sort of liked Menards although the store appeared to be very understaffed and it took a while to get out of there.
However, they had the door I wanted (stainless steel with a little half-moon window) for $129.00. HD and Lowes both wanted $169.00. So I am happy with the savings! And I already got the lockset brand new for $5.00 at Habitat ReStore. So phhhttt to the Evil Empires.

I'm in SE Michigan, itinerant day laborers are a rare breed around here. Actually, an invisible breed. I've never seen them here.

I have a buttload of lumber and fasteners and hangers to buy for the porch...that's going to be the big expense. I'll probably call the lumber yard section of each store and comparison shop, since I am a cheap beeyotch. :)

Chefguy
07-14-2011, 04:07 PM
My son is a store manager for Menard's in Minnesota, so I've been to the store a couple of times. It seemed pretty much like a HD or Lowes clone, but more regional.

chiroptera
07-14-2011, 04:22 PM
Aaaand....Menards just called me back with the price for the replacement windows I need. They are MUCH cheaper per window than both HD and Lowes. $210 per window, compared to $268 at Lowes and $330 at HD. Same window, basically - white vinyl slider, low-E glass, argon gas/double paned, builder grade.

Menards appears to be a mid-western chain (http://menards.com/main/storeLocator.html) and not on the coasts.

Unintentionally Blank
07-14-2011, 04:30 PM
Find one you like, sitck with it, go to no others. They're different in subtle and sadistic ways:

1. One had the thinset I needed, but I forgot which, and so went to the wrong one to get replacement
2. Lowes and HD had what appeared to be identical base moulding...until you butted them up together...another run back to the OTHER store.
3. One had thinset and floats that would handle 18x18 tile, the other didn't

And I'm never tiling bathrooms ever again.

Joey P
07-14-2011, 04:47 PM
IMO, Menards tends to have a lot of off-brand stuff. So if you want a cheap screw driver or a power tool by a brand no one's ever heard of, that's the place to go. It's like a big box version of Harbor Freight.

As for Home Depot and Lowes, my big problem with Home Depot is that the staff at all the Home Depots I regularly go to (at least three) are terrible. I see them actively walk out of aisles that customers walk into, walk right past people that clearly need help, stand around talking to each other instead of spread out in the store helping customers...just terrible. I like to think their slogan should be Home Depot. You Can Do It. By Yourself. (http://imaginechurch.tv/wp-content/images/home-depot-20110217-150505.jpg)
A few weeks ago, I stood around for about 5 minutes waiting for help before finally going over to a manger and asking him to help me find something. He told me to ask for help in that section. I explained to him that there's no one over there. He walked me over there pointed to someone and very accusingly/condescendingly said "Look, there's someone right there" as if to imply I never attempted to find him to begin with (I had, he wasn't in that area). I replied "Well, I don't know what to tell you, he hasn't been there for the last five minutes, but this is why I normally shop at Lowes"

Lowes on the other hand, in addition to what others have said, has great service. You can hardly make it from the door to where you're going without being asked if you need help at least once or twice.

DCnDC
07-14-2011, 04:54 PM
As for Home Depot and Lowes, my big problem with Home Depot is that the staff at all the Home Depots I regularly go to (at least three) are terrible. I see them actively walk out of aisles that customers walk into, walk right past people that clearly need help, stand around talking to each other instead of spread out in the store helping customers...just terrible. I like to think their slogan should be Home Depot. You Can Do It. By Yourself. (http://imaginechurch.tv/wp-content/images/home-depot-20110217-150505.jpg)
A few weeks ago, I stood around for about 5 minutes waiting for help before finally going over to a manger and asking him to help me find something. He told me to ask for help in that section. I explained to him that there's no one over there. He walked me over there pointed to someone and very accusingly/condescendingly said "Look, there's someone right there" as if to imply I never attempted to find him to begin with (I had, he wasn't in that area). I replied "Well, I don't know what to tell you, he hasn't been there for the last five minutes, but this is why I normally shop at Lowes"

Lowes on the other hand, in addition to what others have said, has great service. You can hardly make it from the door to where you're going without being asked if you need help at least once or twice.

We don't have Menard's here but as to the other two this is exactly my experience. The quality of service/employees at Lowe's is vastly superior to Home Depot in every possible way. The people at Lowe's are happy to help, enthusiastic even, while at Home Depot they couldn't possibly care less. Even when I do find someone to ask a question of, they never have the answer and simply direct me to a different employee across the store who is equally clueless. I go to Lowe's whenever possible. Fuck Home Depot.

Crafter_Man
07-14-2011, 04:58 PM
I used all three when I fixed up the basement. This included electrical, plumbing, insulation, hardware, etc. Generally speaking, I found Menard's to have the largest selection, so most of my stuff came from there. Lowe's was O.K., but the place was always too crowded. Home Depot had the poorest selection and most annoying employees, but the quality of the products was high.

One of the other cool things about Menard's is the food isles. Good prices. I get the feeling they sell the food items at cost.

Magiver
07-14-2011, 05:06 PM
Since we're venting, I distinctly remember going into HD a few weeks ago for some simple copper fittings. They had the individual ones jammed into boxes that I couldn't see and had difficulty physically getting them out of. The bulk versions were in lock boxes on the floor. I was so frustrated with the process of buying the most common items that I drove 5 miles down the road to buy the stuff. They lost an easy $200 worth of sales.

I use to get frustrated because I knew one of the 2 big box stores sucked and I could never remember which one. I've since figured it out.

bump
07-14-2011, 05:13 PM
Lowes is generally cleaner that HD. And not as many day laborers.

At least in my area.

That's the case around here too. I think Lowe's makes a special effort to be cleaner and more "pretty" in terms of the product packaging and placement.

Lowe's seems to be aiming at the homeowner, while Home Depot really seems to be aiming at the small contractor, despite whatever their commercials say.

Caffeine.addict
07-14-2011, 05:31 PM
We don't have Menard's here but as to the other two this is exactly my experience. The quality of service/employees at Lowe's is vastly superior to Home Depot in every possible way. The people at Lowe's are happy to help, enthusiastic even, while at Home Depot they couldn't possibly care less. Even when I do find someone to ask a question of, they never have the answer and simply direct me to a different employee across the store who is equally clueless. I go to Lowe's whenever possible. Fuck Home Depot.

This is my experience as well, however there are far more Home Depots that are convenient to me compared to Lowes. I don't have to leave DC to go to Home Depot. However, I wouldn't go to either unless I knew exactly what I was looking for. If I need help deciding what to get, I go a smaller hardware store near me that tends to have good service and carries items more appropriate for old houses.

chiroptera
07-14-2011, 05:33 PM
I just googled but couldn't find it....I recall an article about a year ago detailing how both Lowes and Home Depot were making a concerted effort to attract both home owners and female buyers. Realising belatedly that women make a lot of the important decisions about home improvement products, and as the economy and building slumped, people were doing more DIY projects themselves.

One handy thing for me is that the closest Lowes and HD are right directly across the street from each other. So, for instance, when I found that HD had cheaper fence panels but Lowes was a bit less on 4x4s and cement, I was able to do my fence supply shopping in one fell swoop.

That's the case around here too. I think Lowe's makes a special effort to be cleaner and more "pretty" in terms of the product packaging and placement.

Lowe's seems to be aiming at the homeowner, while Home Depot really seems to be aiming at the small contractor, despite whatever their commercials say.

Queen Tonya
07-14-2011, 06:25 PM
I've noticed an enormous difference in nearby Home Depot stores. 3 miles west of me there are fewer visible employees, the ones you do find aren't very knowledgeable or interested in helping and the store is just dirtier and disorganized. 7 miles east it's cleaner, better stocked with far better service.

I still go to my local little old-guy staffed hardware store for most small things, sure it's more expensive but they know everything. Bigger stuff is usually HD unless I remember to check Lowe's website for pricing stuff. No Menards close by us.

Chefguy
07-14-2011, 06:39 PM
Since we're venting, I distinctly remember going into HD a few weeks ago for some simple copper fittings. They had the individual ones jammed into boxes that I couldn't see and had difficulty physically getting them out of. The bulk versions were in lock boxes on the floor. I was so frustrated with the process of buying the most common items that I drove 5 miles down the road to buy the stuff. They lost an easy $200 worth of sales.

I use to get frustrated because I knew one of the 2 big box stores sucked and I could never remember which one. I've since figured it out.

I haven't been to HD in years, because their customer service is the absolute worst. "Sales associates" tend to actively avoid you, if you can find one in the first place. I try to find what I need at our neighborhood True Value, even though it's more expensive. They have people there that know where everything is located, are knowledgeable about products, and will order something if they don't have it.

The Second Stone
07-14-2011, 08:20 PM
HD seems to me to market mostly to contractors, while Lowes markets towards homeowners. Never heard of Menards.

Magiver
07-14-2011, 08:35 PM
I haven't been to HD in years, because their customer service is the absolute worst. "Sales associates" tend to actively avoid you, if you can find one in the first place. I try to find what I need at our neighborhood True Value, even though it's more expensive. They have people there that know where everything is located, are knowledgeable about products, and will order something if they don't have it. Sigh, I lost my favorite hardware store after at least 45 years of known existence.

Chimera
07-14-2011, 08:52 PM
Menards is regional, Midwest. Basically from Akron in Ohio, to Wyoming, from Wichita KS to International Falls MN.
Heaviest around Chicago, northern Illinois.

As per this (http://menards.com/main/storeLocator.html)

Their song/slogan is "Save big money at Menards"
Which gets restated as "blow big money at Menards"
Not that they're expensive, it is just easy to spend money there.

Duckster
07-14-2011, 10:53 PM
The quality of service/employees at Lowe's is vastly superior to Home Depot in every possible way. The people at Lowe's are happy to help, enthusiastic even, while at Home Depot they couldn't possibly care less. Even when I do find someone to ask a question of, they never have the answer and simply direct me to a different employee across the store who is equally clueless. I go to Lowe's whenever possible. Fuck Home Depot.

This. What I like about Menards when I was last home (as in hometown) was its size. It had one and a half floors. I paced off the store so when I went into my local Lowes, Menards measured more than twice the floor space. Where Lowes has 30 different drill bits, Menards easily that 100, including eight foot long drill bits. Never seen them that long anywhere else.

jacobsta811
07-14-2011, 11:17 PM
Around here not only is Menards similar or larger in floorspace, they have an outdoor lumberyard/siding/etc that is easily as large as the store itself and has way more product than Home Depot and Lowes, and almost always for less money. Menards is big on the loss leaders too (with store credit mail-in-rebate). Easy to get cheap batteries, flashlights, etc, because they are often $1 or $2 after rebate.

carnut
07-14-2011, 11:42 PM
Menards is big around here. I find them cheaper and messier than either the Orange Box or the Blue Box. There are some things that I go specifically to Menards for because I know they will have weird, cheap stuff. I got my deck furniture there, cheaper than the others and made in the USA. Their lumber is poor stuff.

HD has the best selection of light bulbs, bar none. The HD near me is efficient, clean and I can always find help. They carry good gardening tools. I have an HD bonus in a friend who works at one in another city, specializing in home installs. She is the queen of installs so I rely on her to steer me to the right stuff for my needs (even if I buy it elsewhere).

There are Lowe's around but they aren't convenient to me so I don't go there as often as the others. They have nice finishing goods for remodels.

An option not listed here is another regional store, called Mills Fleet Farm. Meant for farming communities and ex-urbia, they carry lots of reasonably priced, practical goods for hobby farms and such. Get your truck tires and horse barn goods here. Canning supplies, hunting & fishing supplies and practical clothing prices rock at this store. I love Fleet Farm.

Ruby
07-14-2011, 11:43 PM
Menards lighting department is also much bigger than Lowes or HD. I shop all three for the best bargains. This year, HD got a lot of my landscaping/flowers/mulch money. Other years I've found better deals elsewhere.

Menards has a nasty rebate program that if you send in the appropriate box tops and purchase docs you will get a store credit for future purchases. It's not worth the work, imo. It's also the only one where you can get a gallon of milk and a novel.

A recent Menards experience pissed me off...I wanted 15 bags of mulch to finish a project. I stood in line at the register only to be told that I had to go to the "Contractor Desk" to get a paper for the mulch. I stood in line again at the Contractor Desk who gave me an invoice for the mulch. I then stood in line AGAIN at the register to pay for the fricken mulch. THEN, I had to wait in line at the lumber yard entrance, wait for an associate to load the mulch, and wait to be released from the lumber yard entrance. All this for 15 f'ing bags of mulch...a $30 purchase took forever. I won't make that mistake again.

Joey P
07-14-2011, 11:50 PM
Menards easily that 100, including eight foot long drill bits. Never seen them that long anywhere else.

They're usually in the electrical section. You can also get a special tool (http://img2.prosperent.com/images/250x250/pimages.solidsignal.com/LSAT7_zoom.gif) for guiding the bit so that you can feed it into the wall around light switch (or sconce or outlet) height and drill out the 2x4 at the bottom/top into the basement or into the attic (ya know, instead of into the next room over).

aceplace57
07-14-2011, 11:58 PM
Lowes carries a few better quality things than HD. Lowes lumber doesn't seem to have as many splits, knots etc. They carry a better selection of branded hand tools. etc. I shop both stores.

Never heard of Menards except for the beatnik on Dobie Gillis.

thelabdude
07-15-2011, 12:41 AM
I have been in a Mennards and liked it, big, good selection and good prices. Wish they were around here too. We had an HD but they closed. No wonder, at least in plumbing, they has less stuff and higher prices than Lowes. A local TSC type place came in. I really like them. I buy a lot at the Ace hardware. I think they hurt HD.

carnut
07-15-2011, 07:00 PM
Lowes carries a few better quality things than HD. Lowes lumber doesn't seem to have as many splits, knots etc. They carry a better selection of branded hand tools. etc. I shop both stores.

Never heard of Menards except for the beatnik on Dobie Gillis.

You mean Maynard G. Krebs? :D Folks around here do tend to call Menard's "Maynard's".

Kansas Beekeeper
07-16-2011, 12:13 AM
It's fun to walk over to a group of Home Depot employees who are gathered chatting and say, "I need 150 sacks of concrete mix." They leave like a covey of quail that have been flushed out.

highrollinwooded
07-16-2011, 08:33 AM
Menards lighting department is also much bigger than Lowes or HD. I shop all three for the best bargains. This year, HD got a lot of my landscaping/flowers/mulch money. Other years I've found better deals elsewhere.

Menards has a nasty rebate program that if you send in the appropriate box tops and purchase docs you will get a store credit for future purchases. It's not worth the work, imo. It's also the only one where you can get a gallon of milk and a novel.

A recent Menards experience pissed me off...I wanted 15 bags of mulch to finish a project. I stood in line at the register only to be told that I had to go to the "Contractor Desk" to get a paper for the mulch. I stood in line again at the Contractor Desk who gave me an invoice for the mulch. I then stood in line AGAIN at the register to pay for the fricken mulch. THEN, I had to wait in line at the lumber yard entrance, wait for an associate to load the mulch, and wait to be released from the lumber yard entrance. All this for 15 f'ing bags of mulch...a $30 purchase took forever. I won't make that mistake again.

First of all, you call the rebate program "nasty"? 99 times out of 100 you do NOT need to mail in so called "box tops", just the rebate receipt at the bottom of your receipt with the appropriate form. How hard is that??
As far as ordering mulch, how do you expect the store to keep track of what is going in/out of the lumberyard? Write it on a piece of paper? Thats why you need an invoice. Do you expect every register to have a printer so the cashiers can do it for you??? Obviously you do not know how to go about ordering things that you need to go into the yard to get. Now that you do, your trip should be fairly painless.Or heres a no brainer. Go to the garden center, grap a cart and head back and load the 30 bags yourself!! Get with the program!! Seriously!!

Joey P
07-16-2011, 09:02 AM
As far as ordering mulch, how do you expect the store to keep track of what is going in/out of the lumberyard? Write it on a piece of paper? Thats why you need an invoice. Do you expect every register to have a printer so the cashiers can do it for you??? Obviously you do not know how to go about ordering things that you need to go into the yard to get. Now that you do, your trip should be fairly painless.Or heres a no brainer. Go to the garden center, grap a cart and head back and load the 30 bags yourself!! Get with the program!! Seriously!!

I have to agree with Ruby. The last time I tried to buy a significant amount of lumber at Menards I spent more time saying "Wait, where do I have to go next?" Whereas at Home Depot or Lowes I just throw it all on a cart and bring it up to the register. No running back and forth across the store.
But I suppose that's the difference between having an outdoor, drive-in lumbar yard VS one that's indoor (and right next to one of the registers).

highrollinwooded
07-16-2011, 09:13 AM
Menards has an outdoor lumberyard so you don't have to haul carts of stuff all through the store, and they carry a LOT more product because they have room! Lowes and HD keep treated wood inside?????? A HUGE no, no!! Now that you know what the procedure is at Menards, go directly to the contractor desk...problem solved!!

Joey P
07-16-2011, 09:44 AM
Menards has an outdoor lumberyard so you don't have to haul carts of stuff all through the store, and they carry a LOT more product because they have room! Lowes and HD keep treated wood inside?????? A HUGE no, no!! Now that you know what the procedure is at Menards, go directly to the contractor desk...problem solved!!

Problem not solved, and you're being kind of obnoxious about it. 14 question marks and 11 exclamation points in two posts, I think you're getting a little worked up about this.
Also, I don't have to "haul carts of stuff all through the store" as I can park right next to the contractor door or the garden center door (for mulch). With big orders, they'll put it on a skid and fork lift it right on to my truck. Just the other day I bought a half a yard of dirt from HD, the distance from the dirt to my car was probably about 100 feet, from the time I pulled into the parking lot to the time I left was about 15 minutes.

Okay, so I need 10 4x4x10's. At Home Depot/Lowes I can ask them for some help, someone will get a forklift, put them on a skid, I'll pay for them, and they'll put them on my truck. Alternatively, a buddy and I can just throw them on a cart, pay for them and load them ourselves.
I've only bought lumber at Menards once, but I remember it being a royal PITA, lots of back and forth, but then, I only did it once, maybe after you get the hang of it it's easier. I suppose part of it, was that I didn't know exactly what I needed. I was going in to the store planning to being able to figure out what I was going to need as I looked at what they had and they just don't seem to be very well set up for that.

Like I said, I'm sure it works great for contractors and people that are doing it on a regular basis and know exactly what they need, but for the person (like me) that just has a random project, say, building a dividing wall in a basement or making a small arbor/pergola and doesn't even know exactly what they'll need yet, it's just not worth the hassle.

OTOH though, isn't all this hassle only if you actually want to pull your car in? Now that I think about it, I've bought stuff from their outdoor lumber yard (other then lumber) and just purchased it at a normal register without any problems at all.

LSLGuy
07-16-2011, 10:50 AM
We have 3 Lowes & 2 HDs hereabouts. No Menards. Here's some more anecdote generally in line with the posters above.

One of the Lowes has won company awards for best customer service in the region. You can't swing a 2x4 without hitting a clerk trying to help you. The other two, not so much. But they're both better than the best of the HDs in terms of floor help, cashier line length / delays, etc.

Lowes beats HD hand down in the more decorator stuff. Fancy bathroom fixtures, etc. HD usually has a better selection of the more oddball grungy contractor stuff, say HVAC ducting gizmos or water heater innards.


IMO ...
Very clearly Lowes' target market is really women; the ones who persuade their husbands / BFs to do DIY stuff. HD's target market is men with pickup trucks who do odd jobs as either their primary or secondary job, with some DIYers thrown in for good measure.

Once you notice it, the male/female orientation of the two stores is real obvious. Likewise in their TV ads.

jacobsta811
07-16-2011, 02:40 PM
You can buy anything in the store at the Front Register at Menards, and you can walk all the way through the store, out into the lumberyard into the lumber shed if you want - they have a big thick book of barcodes for the lumber, blocks, etc that the cashier has to page through to find the right one. I haven't found Menards lumber to be worse quality than Lowes at the same price, but I do see at Menards (and didn't see at Lowes) two different grades of 2x4s and some other lumber - "Contractor" grade and high quality stuff, with the contractor grade being cheaper but having more knots, splits, etc.

Joey P
08-31-2011, 10:52 PM
I know this is kind of a zombie thread, but something happened today that made me literally LOL and think of this thread.

First off, a bit of background about an App called FourSquare. Very quickly, it's an app you install on your phone, any time you go somewhere you 'check in' and it tells your friends where you are, if anyone else is there, it tells you. Also, other people can leave tips and comments (Try the steak, it's the best one in town).

Anyways, I'm walking into Home Depot and I pull up FourSquare, hit the check in button and it shows me the tips/comments left by other users. There was only one "Those people in the orange aprons...do they work here?" I felt kind of stupid laughing at my phone as I walked in, I did catch at least one or two people glance over at me.

On the one hand you'd think they would do something about it, it's not like this is local to one store or one area it's a pretty major problem. OTOH, they seem to be doing okay, so I have to assume they know what they're doing. Perhaps they've decided that they increased training it would take isn't worth it. But the thing is, they do have the manpower for it. If they aren't going to have their employees helping customers, they could probably send home at least 25-40% of their 'on the floor' type employees.

hoco617
12-04-2011, 01:41 PM
First, Menards is midwest. They are expanding to other states, (soon to come to Kentucky). They do have other items such as groceries (only in select stores, not every Menards), pet care items, and clothing. They want to make it a one-stop shop. Think about it-it's convenient to go to wal-mart for groceries. But you can also buy furniture, cards, toys, clothing, etc. making it a one stop shop to increase sales. If you have a contractor that is picking up a few things, it may be convenient for him to buy snacks while he's at the store. They carry a large variety of lumber and longer length than local competitors such as HD or lowes. Typically, HD or lowes only stocks 16' but anything longer is special order. In some dimensions, Menards carries up to 24' in stock making it more convenient for contractors, while still having DIY appeal.

As far as lumber goes-treated lumber is NOT meant to be kept inside. It is treated for a reason and by keeping it inside HD and lowes are actually making it more damaged. I went into a Lowes the other day and saw their treated-it looked as though it was years old compared to the nice clean look of Menards lumber. Another great thing I like about Menards (at least my local store) is the display of siding and shingles. I spent quite awhile with no help at my local HD with siding (they displayed 1 color) and roofing shingles (which they had barely any of).

For rebates- it's really not hard to send in a rebate form and the rebate receipt (which, mind you, is not your original receipt making it convenient). You get money back to use in store so i'm not sure why that's a complaint.

Also-as far as contractors go, you have to remember that HD and Lowes have people who install through their store. Menards does not. However, Menards does not because it takes away from Local contractors/plumbers/electricians, etc. who, in this day and age, are doing anything for jobs. Menards offers a HUGE list of contractors that can do anything and I find that convenient when I need someone to do the smallest to largest of projects. I like to make sure my money isn't going to the store, but to the actual contractor himself.

:cool:

DMark
12-04-2011, 02:00 PM
As mentioned, no Menards here in Las Vegas, but we have a Lowes and a Home Depot in our neighborhood.

I have to disagree with what others have said - at least in our area.
Lowes has about 3 employees, two of whom are on lunch break, at all times. You can never find anyone to help you. Also, Lowes is easily 10-25% more expensive with appliances than HD.

The local Home Depots have far more employees, and I have found them to be fairly honest - if they don't know something, they will call over the "specialist" in that area and have them explain it to you.

Maybe it is luck of the draw, but in our area we rarely go to Lowes anymore due to their few employees and over-priced products. I will grant you their store is "prettier" than HD, but "pretty" is not why I go to these places.

lindsaybluth
12-05-2011, 12:35 AM
I think it really depends on where the big box store is located. For example, my home depot is only 5 min away but my nearest lowes is in a very affluent suburb 15 min away. So when I got a new door and new trim and a new roll-top screen door, I got it from Lowe's because they have plenty of "higher end" items. I'm getting my vanity, tile and tub surround and fixtures from Lowes as well for the new bathroom. Every day things and small ticket items I get at home depot because it's more convenient and the quality is the same.

Both have excellent customer service.

My home depot has this one manager that is a rock star. She will walk the aisles if she's not busy and actively asks people "Can I help you with anything". The day will come when she's promoted to some regional manager position, I just know it. I saw a group of managers meeting one morning: all were 50 plus old white men and there she is, the youngest by 15 years, the only girl and the only non white person. Go girl, go.

Dereknocue67
12-05-2011, 04:00 AM
The main difference I see with the big box stores is the price of lumber as compared to local lumber suppliers. I first noticed this when making a project out of red oak where the local supplier offered prices slightly more than 50% less then Lowes. The same applies to veneers where the local supplier not only had better prices but better quality plywood.

kiz
12-05-2011, 08:22 AM
Lowe's seems to be aiming at the homeowner, while Home Depot really seems to be aiming at the small contractor, despite whatever their commercials say.

:nodding:

Even though our local Lowe's has a perfectly respectable "contractor's area" like HD, I've seen a ton more construction types in HD than in Lowe's.

Chefguy
12-05-2011, 05:53 PM
First, Menards is midwest. T

As noted waYYY y back in July. ;)

My only beef with them is that they don't treat employees very well.

SofaKingSweet
12-12-2011, 12:20 AM
Lowes will price match, even internet sales...to me this puts them on top.
I needed 3 EZ gate kits..about $30 at Menards, but they were on sale, I don't remember how much....but I took the print out to Lowes and they beat it ...They ended up costing me $19.99 ea ..that saved me 33%

lindsaybluth
12-12-2011, 11:56 AM
Both stores price match and beat in-ad sales by 10 percent.

I got a ladder this way the day the deal was set to expire from HD by printing the lowes ad and bring it into the HD just 5 min from my house.

johnpost
12-12-2011, 12:21 PM
Lowes has lots of hardware, electrical, outdoor and appliances. in-store help is plentiful. small and medium city ones i've been to were good.

Home Depot is an all depends but lesser selection for materials. in-store help seems lacking. in a big city they might hire people from that neighborhood and you might get people who don't know much with a bad attitude towards work.

both are similar for tools.

the best in-store help is often regional chains or local franchise owner of a national chain ( a franchise owner might have several stores of a national hardware store franchise). asking them about tool use or the right part to use gives experienced answers. cost is more often though doing a job correctly the first time is worth the price.

stpauler
12-12-2011, 12:29 PM
I tend to be a Home Depot shopper for a couple reasons.
1) They have want we need to complete a job and the store employees have always been helpful to me.
2) Home Depot's politics have been for the most part good. They're on the American Family Association's hitlist because they support gay folk. So if shopping at HD pisses off the AFA, all the better. (And better than Lowe's for pulling advertising, which is kowtowing and gross).
3) It's about 3 blocks away from home.

Menard's is good and more fun too. There are lots of odd distracting things at Menard's (Hmm, I guess I do want a trampoline).

4inConverse
09-20-2014, 03:58 AM
I go to Home Depot most of the time. The prices are reasonable enough to just get something done. If there is time to compare prices and hunt around, I like to check Menards since they have some unusual items. Prices are sometimes lower, but that is not a reason to spend time looking around. Sometimes Home Depot doesn't have the right size etc, so I have to check around anyway. Lowes has pulled through a couple times for me. One item was a 100 inch cutting guide for my saw. That was 2 inches longer than the one at home depot they didn't know was there. All places have a grove, but It sure is nice to be closest to the one you work well with.

Omar Little
09-20-2014, 11:54 AM
Zombies kill indiscriminately at all big box stores.

usedtobe
09-20-2014, 08:01 PM
A deck by HD {{{shudder}}}.

OK -

Their dimensional lumber over 2x4 is green - it still has the original (sap) moisture in it. That will eventually dissipate. As it does, it will cause the wood to twist, warp and split.
They do carry KD (kiln dried) lumber in 2x4 - it is the "premium" studs and 2x4x8.*

They used to carry the green-colored pressure-treated lumber. They now sell brown pressure-treated. Many good carpenters lived and died without even knowing the brown stuff existed.
Reason: It is crap. The green stuff is rated for structural use - read the table for "pine" or "spruce" and the green stuff meets those specs. The brown stuff is not rated for structural use.

* - redwood is the exception. Even real redwood is not KD (except the lovely clear center heart). If you can find a complete (not missing an edge) straight bit of redwood in HD, it is as good as the stuff in real lumber stores.

chiroptera
09-20-2014, 09:07 PM
I was going to respond, saying hey, I posted a thread just like this years ago! Then I realised, it's the same thread.
For the record, I still like Menards the best. For lumber, I avoid the big boxes and go with independent yards that carry domestic lumber in longer lengths and a wider variety.

Slow Moving Vehicle
09-20-2014, 10:28 PM
Wish I'd come across this thread years ago. I'm a 20-year Orange Box employee, and can tell y'all the view from the other side of the orange apron. If you're interested.

One difference between HD/Lowes and Menards is that HD/Lowes are warehouse stores. There's nothing "in the back", because the "back" is atop the racking. Ask an HD/Lowes employee for something that's not on the shelf and she'll look up. In theory, all merchandise is supposed to be in the overhead above it's spot on the shelf - they call that "striping". Doesn't always work out, of course.

Menard's, on the other hand, is a more traditional store that does store its overstock in a back warehouse. So the racking is not so high - it's more like a traditional hardware store. At least, that's the way it was the last time I was in a Menards, twenty years ago.

Son of a Rich
09-21-2014, 12:55 AM
The worst thing about Menards:

♫ Save big money, you save big money, when you shop Menards ♫

Two minutes later:

♫ Save big money, you save big money, when you shop Menards ♫

ad infinitum.

bubba001
09-21-2014, 09:31 PM
A deck by HD {{{shudder}}}.

OK -

Their dimensional lumber over 2x4 is green - it still has the original (sap) moisture in it. That will eventually dissipate. As it does, it will cause the wood to twist, warp and split.
They do carry KD (kiln dried) lumber in 2x4 - it is the "premium" studs and 2x4x8.*

They used to carry the green-colored pressure-treated lumber. They now sell brown pressure-treated. Many good carpenters lived and died without even knowing the brown stuff existed.
Reason: It is crap. The green stuff is rated for structural use - read the table for "pine" or "spruce" and the green stuff meets those specs. The brown stuff is not rated for structural use.

* - redwood is the exception. Even real redwood is not KD (except the lovely clear center heart). If you can find a complete (not missing an edge) straight bit of redwood in HD, it is as good as the stuff in real lumber stores.

If you need ground contact rated wood, you need to go somewhere else. HD and Lowes do not generally carry it in many sizes. Menards carries a lot more of the structual stuff, in fact you can buy home kits and pole barn kits there. Menards is a much larger lumber operation, and they carry metal roofing panels in several colors. Local HD only has it in white. Menards carries different types also. I haven't seen that at HD or Lowes. Menards here are much bigger than HD or Lowes. I like Lowes for service, HD is closer, but I have to go to Menards for metal roofing or ground contact rated lumber. It's about 40 miles away, but it is the only place to get that stuff here.

usedtobe
09-22-2014, 02:26 AM
I was talking, specifically, about HD - I have never seen a Menards, and cannot/did not comment on their product lines.

Back in the early 80's. any wood/earth contact would pretty much condemn a house. Don't know about storage or equipment shelters, or livestock.

pulykamell
09-22-2014, 10:33 AM
The worst thing about Menards:

♫ Save big money, you save big money, when you shop Menards ♫

Two minutes later:

♫ Save big money, you save big money, when you shop Menards ♫

ad infinitum.

ARGH!!! That's the one thing that's always driven me nuts about Menards: their incessant playing of that infernal jingle in the store. I'm already here! I don't need the continuous barrage of advertising to convince me to shop here because I'm already here! Argh!!

After shopping for a bathroom remodel around here, I found Menards to have better stock and availability compared with Home Depot, but it seems to be very much location dependent. My local Home Depot, to be honest, was kind of crap in choice of tile, cabinetry, sinks, etc. All that ended up being bought at Menard's.

Buckeye100
01-20-2017, 04:00 AM
I know this is a dated thread, but thought I might add some info. One thing no one commented on was that unlike HomeDepot and Lowes, Menards is privately owned. Because of this you can negotiate prices, especially on larger projects. Try this at HD or Lowes and the managers go blank. Menards is owned by John Menard, whose son Paul races their NASCAR car. When you go into Menards and see anything labeled Midwest Manufacturing that is a Menards company and you may see these products sold at other stores. At their DC's they roll their own steel roofing, just like the roofing companies and top pole building company Morton's does. They have a concrete block/paver plant at their DC's, unlike the other two who buy from who ever is in the area. They repackage hardware vs buying it already packaged from a hardware company. It may be imported, like most other hardware. They haul lumber in by rail to their DC's and then deliver by truck, the others truck everything in. They make their own trusses and have engineers that can work with you on complex designs. They do sell name brand tools, appliances and promote what is actually made in the USA. They are currently changing store layouts to simplify the lumber yard purchases. They usually beat the other two on the service end, with my local store having the lowest level of any Menards I have been in, but that is just our area, poor workforce. I like many others was glad to see them come into our area, Lowes was not. Before this I would go to a Home Depot an hour away over our local Lowes. It was the only store in town and they knew it. Menards is based in Wisconsin and John Menard will only expand as he has money to do so, a wise man that avoids debt. I do see a day that Menards will be larger than the other two. If you do not see something in Menards, just ask the management, they may be able to get it for you, just not a stocked item. Per their rebate program, it is only bad if you are never going to shop with them again. Fyi, if they had a 11% rebate a week or so before you can ask for a special form to still get that rebate, as long as what you are buying is not on a special sale. Sometimes you just have to ask, the worse to happen is a no.

Chefguy
01-20-2017, 10:44 AM
I know this is a dated thread, but thought I might add some info. One thing no one commented on was that unlike HomeDepot and Lowes, Menards is privately owned. Because of this you can negotiate prices, especially on larger projects. Try this at HD or Lowes and the managers go blank. Menards is owned by John Menard, whose son Paul races their NASCAR car. When you go into Menards and see anything labeled Midwest Manufacturing that is a Menards company and you may see these products sold at other stores. At their DC's they roll their own steel roofing, just like the roofing companies and top pole building company Morton's does. They have a concrete block/paver plant at their DC's, unlike the other two who buy from who ever is in the area. They repackage hardware vs buying it already packaged from a hardware company. It may be imported, like most other hardware. They haul lumber in by rail to their DC's and then deliver by truck, the others truck everything in. They make their own trusses and have engineers that can work with you on complex designs. They do sell name brand tools, appliances and promote what is actually made in the USA. They are currently changing store layouts to simplify the lumber yard purchases. They usually beat the other two on the service end, with my local store having the lowest level of any Menards I have been in, but that is just our area, poor workforce. I like many others was glad to see them come into our area, Lowes was not. Before this I would go to a Home Depot an hour away over our local Lowes. It was the only store in town and they knew it. Menards is based in Wisconsin and John Menard will only expand as he has money to do so, a wise man that avoids debt. I do see a day that Menards will be larger than the other two. If you do not see something in Menards, just ask the management, they may be able to get it for you, just not a stocked item. Per their rebate program, it is only bad if you are never going to shop with them again. Fyi, if they had a 11% rebate a week or so before you can ask for a special form to still get that rebate, as long as what you are buying is not on a special sale. Sometimes you just have to ask, the worse to happen is a no.

Sorry, but John Menard is a miserable son of a bitch to work for, an accused sexual predator, and a free market economy advocate. In other words, another conservative multi-billionaire asshole who is in bed with Scott Walker and the Koch brothers. My son finally got free of that asshole this past year and his health has rebounded.

From this article (http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2013/06/20/murphys-law-the-strange-life-of-john-menard/):

A columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune once described Menards’ manner of handling an employee as “something exhumed from the Bronze Age with all its primitive logic intact.”

A copy of the employment agreement for managers was leaked to Bill Lueders and The Progressive magazine: it stipulates that “The Manager’s income shall be automatically reduced by sixty percent (60%) of what it would have been if a union of any type is recognized within your particular operation during the term of this Agreement.”

The employee who leaked the contract said the agreement is required for all management staff, Lueders wrote, and added that the threat was effective: ‘The mere mention of the word ‘union’ is a workplace taboo.’”

The National Labor Relations Board, in response to the Progressive story, found that Menards committed multiple violations of federal labor law. The NLRB found merit to five of the eight complaints. It determined that the clause threatening a 60 percent cut in pay for a manager who lets a union be established was a violation, but took no action, as Menard’s has already removed this language from the agreements. But the NLRB also found Menards was violating labor law by requiring employees to sign arbitration agreements that preclude them from engaging in concerted activities, including class action suits. The ruling could require the rewriting of employments agreements with all of its 45,000 employees.

Menard was a major donor to an anti-union program run by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and is also among the donors who’ve given at least $1 million to the Koch Brothers, according to Mother Jones, to help supports its conservative and anti-union causes.

Nohl found Menard and his company had more run-ins with state Department of Natural Resources than any other Wisconsin company. Menard and his company were ultimately fined $1.7 million for 21 violations. Menards was fined for disposing hazardous waste in 1994, charged by the Minnesota Attorney General in 2003 with manufacturing and selling arsenic-tainted mulch, fined $2 million in 2005 for having a floor drain that DNR officials believed was dumping chemicals into a tributary of the Chippewa River, and hit with an administrative order from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for damaging a stream that ran through its property in South Dakota.

The company extended its string of violations in January 2011, when it was ordered to pay $30,000 in fines and court costs for dumping a pallet of herbicide on a parking island.

Boyo Jim
01-20-2017, 11:02 AM
I hear anecdotes from friends that it's very difficult to return items to Menards. But I don't have personal knowledge of that.

PastTense
01-20-2017, 11:28 AM
I hear anecdotes from friends that it's very difficult to return items to Menards. But I don't have personal knowledge of that.

I've never had any problems returning items.

aceplace57
01-20-2017, 01:52 PM
Lowe's is better laid out, cleaner and often has a better selection.

Home Depot is closer to my house and I often shop there for quick one or two item purchases.

Barkis is Willin'
01-20-2017, 02:27 PM
I have returned items at Menard's without problem. It is my preferred store among the three, but I will agree with those who hate the rebate program. Who the hell can be expected to snail mail rebate forms these days?

gnoitall
01-20-2017, 02:55 PM
I have returned items at Menard's without problem. It is my preferred store among the three, but I will agree with those who hate the rebate program. Who the hell can be expected to snail mail rebate forms these days?As far as I'm concerned, rebates are a sucker's game no matter how they're run. So a non-issue AFAIK. If I have to buy on price, it's the price out the door and no other.

In my neck, Menard's is closest (other than a lovely locally-owned Ace HW store less than 5 blocks away, but they're tiny and don't carry much lumber or bulk construction stuff). And my experience lines up well with the others WRT the other big-box home improvement places: I go into Home Depot if I'm sure I won't have to interact with the help. If I wanted to chase people around, I have my wife. :D

9 times out of 10, if the local HW store doesn't carry it, Menard's does. The fact that Menard's feels like a local hardware store on extreme growth hormones is a plus in my book, even if I never buy a bag of cat food or a pair of boots.

I also like Menard's garden center during the season much better than the other big-box stores. Much better bedding plants, vegetable starters, and herbs.

Terry Kennedy
01-21-2017, 12:35 AM
In my neck, Menard's is closest (other than a lovely locally-owned Ace HW store less than 5 blocks away, but they're tiny and don't carry much lumber or bulk construction stuff). And my experience lines up well with the others WRT the other big-box home improvement places: I go into Home Depot if I'm sure I won't have to interact with the help. If I wanted to chase people around, I have my wife. :D

9 times out of 10, if the local HW store doesn't carry it, Menard's does. The fact that Menard's feels like a local hardware store on extreme growth hormones is a plus in my book, even if I never buy a bag of cat food or a pair of boots.
There's also Farm & Fleet (https://farmandfleet.com/). If you want an odd assortment of stuff, they're your go-to place. As an example, the "impulse buy" racks at the checkout have both M&M's and sheep de-wormer. :eek:

In Illinois, we had HD, Lowe's, Menards, and F&F within a mile of each other (the first 3 were actually all on the same street, F&F was further away). I mostly avoided Menards because they incessantly played their "Save big money at Menards" jingle over and over and over. Not sure if they still do that.

Back in the Northeast, HD used to be good because many stores were open 24 hours and had a separate "Pro Book" for commercial accounts that you could special order stuff from. These days, HD and Lowe's seem pretty equivalent and I've found them both giving out wildly incorrect advice to DIY-ers. Regular staff seem equally non-present at both, with better staffing at the Lowe's specialty areas (appliances, carpet, etc.).

Lowe's has those "Push for assistance" buttons that trigger a "Special assistance needed in the loafing area" PA announcement (substitute the department you're in for "loafing"). These time out after a few cycles and seem to be generally ignored. However, there's a hidden reset button on the call boxes, and with appropriate manipulation you can generate a long cycle, complete with Max Headroom effects "Special special spec spec spec assistance assist assist assist needed in the paint cutting area area area a a a a". The trick is to reset the box and move away just before the very irate manager and a bunch of assistants show up. Then you can act innocent and go "Since you're all here, can you help me find...?"

P.S. - the trick was shown to me by a Lowe's manager

PastTense
01-21-2017, 12:58 AM
Farm and Fleet is an example of farm supply chains, where most of their inventory is not specifically agricultural. Other examples are Rural King, Tractor Supply, Theisens, Orsheln, Bomgaars...They have lots of hardware stuff, work clothing, etc.

Of the big three home center chains I prefer Menards as their lumber selection seems broader and cheaper.

Orr, G.
01-21-2017, 02:08 AM
Not precisely on topic, but I have a story to share.

In my area, Menard's, Lowes, and Home Depot are equivalent - you shop around for the best deal/quality and any of the three could end up the winner depending on the item.

Anyway, we bought a fridge from Menard's just recently, and we ran into a few problems upon delivery. The delivery guys refused to remove the fridge doors to get the fridge in the house (our older house couldn't quite accommodate the 30" fridge, as our door opening is 29 3/4"). This, despite the fact that we chose Menard's specifically because their salespeople promised us that their delivery people would be able to remove and replace the fridge doors in order to get it in the house.

There were additional problems, i.e., scratches on the freezer door and the doors being set to a left hinge instead of a right hinge, as ordered.

So there we were, with a fridge in our backyard at 6:30 PM on a Saturday, with two angry delivery guys who claimed they weren't being paid for this, and me on the phone with a very unhelpful night manager at Menard's, who kept referring to clause #4 of our service contract which simply did not state what he said it did.

I had my wife call our contractor (he did our bathrooms, and will be doing our kitchen this year) on her phone, to see if he knew of a guy who could help get the fridge in the house since the delivery guys refused to remove the doors and I'm just barely on the wrong side of handy enough to do it myself.

Turns out, my contractor builds million dollar homes on the reg (Lord knows why he still does business with peons like me), and frequently uses Menard's for his work. They know him. He's a celebrity there. He makes a call.

Suddenly everything is coming up roses. I'm being offered $150 off the deal, just because. The delivery guys are taking the fridge back to get the hinges fixed, and re-delivering it the next day, and are apologizing to me as we stand in my wintry backyard. The store manager is handling the replacement of the scratched freezer door with the manufacturer for us, and is calling us daily to make sure we're happy with how things are progressing.

It's quite a feeling to have someone with real influence have your back in a situation like this. In trying to come up with an analogy for this, my mind ran through every cheezy justice-served type movie ever made. My contractor has my loyalty, forevermore.

Menard's... not so much.

FairyChatMom
01-21-2017, 07:20 AM
From where we live, Lowe's is about 15 miles away and Home Depot is more than 25 miles away. When we were doing major work on the house, we did go to HD a couple of times, and the only thing we ended up getting there was our dining room light fixture. Mostly they either didn't have what we needed, or it was more than we wanted to spend.

But we spent thousands at Lowe's, including for appliances, flooring, cabinets, lumber, sheetrock, and the assorted hardware and other bits one needs to do major remodeling. I seem to recall my husband did go to a plumbing supply once for a specific part of the project, and on a few occasions, we'd run to a closer, more expensive hardware store for screws or nails.

For a while there, it seemed we couldn't get out of Lowe's for under $500. Fortunately, those days are done. No more remodeling - just maintenance.

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