You Get What You Pay For

While I haven’t written here for a while, I feel an update is definitely due.  This is not that update. :-/


I’m writing to extol the virtues of the Local Hardware Store which will heretofore be referred to by the acronym LHS.

Big Box Stores (BBS) like Lowes, Home Depot, Friedmans, Amazon…They have everything a consumer could possibly need! It’s cheaper than going to that little store on the corner, right?  Plus, they present options beyond your wildest dreams, right? How could an LHS compete with the shear magnitude and inventory at one of these places? However, I’ve proven again and again that, in the long run, getting something at your LHS is a lot less expensive than the cheaper big-box store.
To wit.
We’ve been dealing with a tricky septic situation here on the ranch for the past month or so, and it finally looks like it might be resolved in the near future. I needed some pretty specialized items and went to Maselli’s, our beloved LHS.  Upon walking in, one of the owners (actually, I’m not sure if he is an owner, but he certainly takes ownership and knows everything) asked if I needed help.  It felt a little like if a major league ball player asked if I needed help with my curve ball.
YES! I DO! I told him exactly what I needed, and he showed me to the PVC fittings.  I picked out what I thought I needed, asked a few more questions about possible hacks for a flotation ball that popped off the septic pump (I’m currently using a tennis ball…which everyone approved of) and went to check out.  The guy at check out noticed that I had grabbed two different pipe fittings, though they were both three inches in diameter.  He explained that one is for drains, and the other for pressurized systems, and pointed out that the drainage one was noticeably smaller.  Then I held up my pipe, and he asked if I had all purpose glue.  “Regular PVC glue won’t work?”  No, apparently my pipe isn’t the regular type of PVC, so I ran back and got the “290” glue like he said and came back to finish checking out.  He further mentioned that my pipe plug was 6”, just in case, and I told him it was for a different project completely.  He nodded and wished me a good luck.
This visit to Maselli’sMead Clarke, or my childhood LHS, Smith and Strebels, would have been the same.  The professionals throughout the store offered their specialized help, and the checkout people knew what they were looking at and helped troubleshoot my problem before I had one!
Based on previous experiences in the BBS’s, I can imagine I would have wandered around without any help, left with different size fittings (even though they’re both three inches), inappropriate glue, and the wrong size pipe-plug.  I’d get home, try all my fittings, glue the ones that did work with the wrong glue, spend time figuring out where I went wrong,  ask Google perhaps, call dad, go back to the store and, after about eight hours, maybe get it right the second time.  Instead, I solved it all the same day with the friendly, non-judgmental help from some real pro’s who love helping other people DIY.
So yes, BBS’s are cheaper if you don’t count time and frustration.  The prices are lower and so is the quality.  We’ve decided, unequivocally that buying something at an LHS for a little more money, makes up for the time, gas, and soul-drainage spent frequenting BBS’s.
For the sake of length I’ve refrained from enumerating my BBS follies, and LHS triumphs, but would love to hear about yours! Go LHS!



9 thoughts on “You Get What You Pay For

  1. Indeed! Many times we’ve rued the day Smith & Strebel closed their doors, and ever since have dreaded the trips to the BBS hardware stores. Not only that, but I never buy paint at BBS …my Local Paint Store (LPS) is dedicated to helping me match colors, use the right equipment, carrying stuff to my car, chatting about which grade of sand is best for ceilings and appreciating my business, and…for the last big project, since they knew my painter personally – the LPS even gave me his professional discount!!! Take that BBS…plus, I’m thinking now I understand why Benjamin Moore isn’t sold in BBS’s!

    1. That’s so Excellent that you got such great service at your LPS (love it btw). People who specialize really make a project that can seem daunting, scary and expensive totally manageable, AND they’re almost always able to work on the price. They have a vested interest in keeping your business, the BBS? not so much.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

  2. Hey guys, this recommendation rocks! I have totally been having the same experience with my local HGC (Home and Garden Center). All I have to do is walk in the door to the place and within 30 seconds I’m getting A++ guidance from people who know every single best kind of grass seed that grows in this bioregion based on shade vs. slope vs. sun, and the safest and best way to plant/prune/fertilize anything. Super service and no more BBS! Are you back at the 5772 address now? Looking forward to the “real” update though this one was pretty good, actually 🙂

    1. Shannon that’s great! It makes a lot of sense to go to the local businesses especially for gardening. They grow things in the specific micro-climate that you’re living in and nothing beats that first hand experience. Yes, we are back at the 5772 address. Thank you for your kind words and I look forward to meeting you sooner rather than later!

      Locally…sort of :-),

    1. Joe! I’d love to come visit your build. Have you gotten the contractors discounts at Mead Clark yet? They beat Lowes pricing…sometimes. Congratulations on your big first steps… I look forward to visiting soon.

      Joseph (and Sarah)

      1. Thanks for the kind words and the advice, I’d completely forgotten about Mead Clark. Sterling, my stepfather has the contractors license and I’m looking forward to benefiting from that and his experience. 🙂

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