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Last week I went to menard's to buy some craft wood to cut in the laser cutter at makeict and it was pretty much like every hardware store adventure where I spend 10 seconds buying something, 20 minutes looking for it. Why isn't there an electronic aisle search yet? Or at least a search employees can access quickly? Of all the stores to make into mega big box stores, hardware stores were the worst. They have a million items in two million categories - it's not like grocery stores where you can group foods into "baking" and "pasta". Hardware stores are anybody's guess.

So I find some kid who works there and ask where's the balsa wood, because that's the simplest craft wood everybody knows about (I'm not going to be a confusing a-hole and ask about beech veneer plywood). He is stumped. "How thick do you need it?"

That's what I love about hardware help... irrelevant question land. As if they have different thicknesses of balsa wood in different sections. People don't make livingroom tables with this stuff, dude.

My favorite ever story about this was a few years ago when I went to a hardware store looking for magnets, preferably hook magnets, but basically just magnets. The store clerk said, "Let's see... you're wanting it to stick to... something metal?"

No, I said. A tree.

So anyway back to this week... poor kid is dumbfounded about balsa wood. So I said, "Sometimes it's by the dowel rods."

He just said "Sometimes."

As in, just you sit back, I know many things that you do not! He didn't. We're wandering aisles with no direction at all. I feel like I'm following the Israelites in the desert.

Finally he walked past the registers and found a coworker who actually knew what balsa wood was and the guy said, "It's by the dowel rods."


Of course the kid says, "And dowel rods are in aisle... " yeah.

43, says the guy who does know something, thank goodness. We found dowel rods together, sure enough the craft wood was right there, and I got what I needed somehow by chance.

Just once I'd like to have a store clerk say, "I honestly don't know where that is but we can ask!" or "Hey spacefem, you were right!" or "I won't waste your time by asking stalling, irrelavent questions in hopes that a light bulb goes off, I will make practical suggestions!"

Whatever, hardware store people, anything.

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 22nd, 2015 10:45 pm (UTC)
I can never find anything in Menards. But Home Depot I find to be pretty well organized, well-labeled, and the store people almost all know where That Thing I Need is. And even better if I'm like "So I need a thing, that I can use to make this thing, and it has to have these properties..." most of them are pretty good at helping me figure things out.

Except that one paint guy, he sucks. But now they have another paint guy (in addition to the patronizing you-can't-do-THAT guy) and he was very helpful. Yay!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 23rd, 2015 02:58 am (UTC)
I think it's more that every time I ask at HD the employees actually know, and so it's less of a wander around aimlessly with the employee with both of you trying to find the thing. So I actually learned where things are better.
Dec. 22nd, 2015 11:03 pm (UTC)
Better than the store clerk who approached me in the radio-controlled model airplane aisle, and asked if I was just killing time there while "hubby" shopped. (In fact, I was ... But I have more experience building RC planes than he does, as it happens.)

I'm afraid my response was, well, not suitable for a family environment. I think I left some scorched strips on him.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 03:32 am (UTC)
I think hardware stores mostly employ one competent person and a ton of teenagers, in the hopes that the teenagers will act as a net to filter people to the expert. Somehow that never seems to happen, though.
Dec. 28th, 2015 09:13 am (UTC)
fry's was like that too!
Dec. 23rd, 2015 07:52 am (UTC)
It's much the same in the UK. "Sometimes it's by the dowel rods"! Shades of Aliens...

Edited at 2015-12-23 07:53 am (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2015 10:58 am (UTC)
That is why I go to a smaller, family owned hardware store. They also lffer better advice than Home Depot or Loewes and may have a better selection in some ways.

If you are ever in Boulder, Colorado, check out McGuckin's. It is the best hardware store I have been to anywhere.
Dec. 23rd, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)

I live in center city Philadelphia and do not own a car, so it's easier by far to go to my local hardware store than to rent a car and drive to a big box store. The local hardware store occupies the first floor of an old row house. It is, perhaps, 18 ft. wide, 36' deep, with 10' ceilings, and it is JAMMED with merchandise. My experience would go like this:

I walk in, stop at the counter right inside the door, and say, " Do you carry balsa wood?"

Young guy behind the counter, " Yeah." He starts down one of the two narrow ailes. I follow.

He stops at a vaguely crafty area, pulls over a stepstool, climbs up, and starts showing me options. We discuss what would work best for me, he takes me back to the counter, I pay for my purchase, and that's it.

I NEVER look for my stuff without help unless it's a repeat purchase. FanSee

Dec. 24th, 2015 01:16 pm (UTC)
We have a small local do-it center that I patronize whenever I freaking can for this reason. When I walk in, I ask at the (always-staffed) desk for what I need and someone takes me right to it. Sometimes I even just go 'the trap under my bathroom sink is leaking, do you have any ideas?' and they take me to what I need a /tell me how to fix it/.

Of course, they don't carry the variety and depth of the big box stores, so sometimes we can't. But it strikes me every time what a difference good customer service makes.
Dec. 30th, 2015 01:57 pm (UTC)
Well,and men don't want to admit they were wrong or didn't know something , especially in front of a woman about a traditionally men's domain.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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