Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Competition … or Robbery?

During yesterday’s adventures in concrete, it became apparent before we’d even gotten to the halfway mark that nine bags of concrete wouldn’t be sufficient to finish the job. Initially, we guessed three more.

As work progressed, we agreed on five and I almost prophetically said six before Lawrence held up five fingers when I asked, “How many more?”

I’d bought all of the previous bags of the Quikrete Fast Setting Concrete Mix we’d been using at Home Depot. I paid $4.37 a bag. Not wanting to make a 20-mile roundtrip, I thought I’d run up to our local Ace Hardware. (While there’s a Lowe’s being built locally, I don’t think it’s open yet.)
They had only five bags on the shelf. The stockboy was glad to go and find more for me. This meant I didn’t have to try another hardware store in town.

Imagine my surprise then when I saw that the concrete was $7.49! I’d anticipated $1 or even $2 more than the $4.37 I’d paid, but more than $3 more per bag? This isn’t competition. It’s robbery!

I guess I shouldn’t complain. Lowe’s wants $1 more per bag and, online, Ace is advertising this very same product for more than $10 a bag – almost $3 more than their in-store price and more than twice the Home Depot price. How nuts is that?

Have you ever seen such a dramatic price variation between chain hardware stores? (I’m not talking the local mom and pops. I’d have expected that there, too.) I like to shop locally not only for the convenience but also to support our local businesses. I briefly rethought that yesterday.

I think they’re going to have to learn to compete much better and fast. That Lowe’s opening is just around the corner – and it’s little more than a mile away.


De-Blurker Kate said...

From my house, it's 2.5 miles to Ace, 4 miles (in different directions) to either Lowe's or Menards, Home Depot is 7.5 miles. If I can't find what I'm looking for at either Menards or Lowes, I'll drive to Home Depot before I go to Ace. The ONLY thing I've found that's slightly competitive at Ace is the special 2-cycle LawnBoy oil I need for my mower, it's only 50 cents more a can than Home Depot. (But even Home Depot has gone from $1.50 a can 2 years ago to $3.oo a can this year.) Everything else I've ever priced at Ace is nearly twice the cost as the other places as you found with the concrete.

PS. I'm sorry I've been blurking again instead of commenting, I'll try to do better. ;)

Debbie said...

Most of my local home improvement stores are competitive with each other. We have Lowes, OSH & Home Depot, which is amazing considering how small the town is. (They are 10 miles away)

NV said...

Kate -- I'm about the same distance to Ace as you, and I have THREE HD's and a Lowe's within 15 miles. When the new Lowe's opens that will be a little over 3 miles. VERY good! Ace is almost always a little higher (but they have good sales) but the convenience is usually worth it.

Debbie -- That's usually the way it is here, too. I guess that's why this surprised me so much.

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