Interesting Conversation at Home Depot

Yesterday I went to Home Depot. Normally, this wouldn't warrant mentioning, since it seems I make at least one trip every weekend to the big orange store. It's gotten to the point where I really do expect the staff to see me come in and shout, "John!!" Just like they used to do on the TV show Cheers for Norm.

Anyway, what made yesterday interesting was a conversation I had with one of the employees. After my experience with the Maytag Neptune and the Home Depot sales staff, I'm feeling more than a little burned. Yesterday, I was looking for some specific stuff -- a good quality respirator, some HEPA filters, more disposable gloves, and so on. Though I found everything I needed, I noticed lots of bare shelf space.

Well, according to my conversation, the Home Depot store maangers' bonuses are based on keeping inventory tight. Effectively, they're rewarded for being out of stock on items. That seems pretty consumer-unfriendly to me. I've also watched as the quality of the tools they carry has gone down and started to really focus on the two "house" brands -- Ryobi and Rigid. Evidently, this is a plan. Rather than carrying the DeWalt table saw, they're going to carry the Ryobi. I've used both. The Ryobis are, to be polite, largely junk. The DeWalts are, largely, very good. Again, according to the employee, this is per plan.

I think I'm going to have to spend less time at Home Depot and seek out some hardware stores that carry higher-quality tools.

Comments (9)
  1. DavidB says:

    Try Lowe’s. I now go out of my way to avoid Home Depot. I’ve been burned too many times by extremely low quality products and poor selection. For example, I purchased several halogen bulbs for our bathroom at Home Depot that would burn out in less than a hundred hours. The bulbs I bought at Lowe’s have been going strong for over a year. And recently when purchasing a doorbell, I found that Lowe’s had a much better selection than HD. Also, I’ve found that Lowe’s stores are generally much cleaner, better lit, and the staff are more professional.

  2. I’m not sure I’d trade one big chain for another. There is a local hardware store (Hardwicks) that carries professional-grade tools and supplies. I already buy all my paint from Rodda here in Seattle because I had some problems with some of the Behr paints. It wouldn’t be too much of a step to start buying my other supplies from Hardwicks (though the prices can be a bit more).

  3. Rich C says:

    Ok, I have to say _something_ to this as I’ve spent the last three-ish years of back-to-school-for-a-software-degree time working part-time at the Depot.

    The one part that I have to speak to is comparing DeWalt to Ryobi… they are not meant to be the same. Ryobi is to Rigid as Black & Decker is to DeWalt. Ryobi and B&D are ‘consumer’ lines for their respective big brothers.

    Ridgid is performing really well and currently has about the best warranty available.

    As to any other perception you may have, I have no comment.

  4. Fair point, and I’ve heard from many people that Home Depot is a great place to work. The only Rigid tool I have is the vacuum. I do have some friends who have experience with the Rigid line, and some insight from the same person at Home Depot who told me about the restocking thing. In general, the consensus seems to be that Rigid products are hardy enough, but still not at the same quality level as their DeWalt, Porter Cable, Bosch, etc. counterparts. Of course, I may be asking too much for Rigid to be all things, but given the choice between a Rigid 18V screwdrive and a DeWalt, I’d still pick the DeWalt; given the choice between the Rigid jigsaw and the Bosch, I did choose the Bosch; given the choice between the Rigid slide compound miter saw and the DeWalt or the Makita, I’d pick the DeWalt or the Makita. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but when I talk to folks like contractors who generally own several of each tool, they get passionate about DeWalt or Makita and shrug when I ask about their Rigid.

  5. I wish a had a dollar every time I heard something bad said about Home Depot.I work part time at ACE Hardware. I am one of those Helpful hardware men. I hear the stories of people who have done business with Home Depot.

    They say: Can’t get help,Can’t find anybody who knows what they are doing, Poor installations!!, Pricing that’s higher today. A very unhappy group —that’s growing.

  6. Eagle used to be great, however after the Lowes purchase things went downhill quickly. I throw Lowes into the same heap as Home Depot.

    Same thing happened with Tool Crib and

    Where is Hardwicks by the way?



  7. I can’t say that my experience at either of the local Ace hardware stores has been considerably better than at Home Depot. The two nearest one has a pretty limited selection of tools, fasteners, plumbing, and electrical stuff. The one that’s a bit farther away has a better selection, but the employees seem perpetually angry.

    I’ve had good luck with, but that’s mostly because I read the reviews pretty heavily and there are some really good reviewers. Their selection is good enough for me — I have little need of the really high-end stuff — and when it isn’t, I know to go to or Hardwicks.

    As for Hardwicks, it’s in Seattle in the University district on Roosevelt, right before the U bridge. It’s right across from the medical center on Roosevelt. You can miss it pretty easily — it’s pretty unassuming. But once you get inside, you’ll find that they have some really high-quality tools and accessories. They’re only open 9-5 M-Saturday, however (I think).

  8. After all these postings about HD and their tools, I took some time today to go to Sears. I was actually looking for something else, but wound up in their tool department. I spent about 30 minutes there talking with one of the four sales reps they had (interestingly, more sales reps per customer than HD has). I walked through their products and found that lots of the Craftsman tools (low-end) are OEMmed from the same manufacturer who makes Porter Cable or Ryobi. They also carry lots of DeWalt. I think the message there will be caveat emptor. That said, the sales folks were happy to tell me which tools were OEMmed from whom and which ones were home-quality and which were pro-quality.

  9. I must admit Sears is still my choice for mechanic tools. I still have some Craftsman sockets and socket wrenches from my grandfather…

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