Ramblings About Big Box Stores

Karl Denninger likes to pick on Best Buy. The reason is Best Buy is a big nationwide chain like Home Depot or Walmart , except they lose money.The reason for that is not price or on-line competition. The reason is Best Buy offers no added value. There’s no reason to go into a best Buy, other than shoplifting and killing time. Why would anyone pay even a small premium for a product from Best Buy? Karl’s answer is they won’t and they don’t, which is why Best Buy is a dead man walking.

That’s a fine argument, but what explains Home Depot? When I need something for a project, I’ll stop there for supplies. They never fail to disappoint. Yesterday I stopped for some solvent to degrease a bike chain. Cleaning a bike chain is not a black art, but you don’t just soak it is gasoline either. I ride a Specialized carbon fiber bike so that means taking care when tuning it up for the season. Instead of spending fifty bucks at the bike shop, I thought I’d get something for half the price.

I asked three different people where they keep solvents. No luck. After walking up and down the store twice, I gave up. Like Best Buy, the help runs from you if you look like you are about to ask a question. You just about have to tackle them. As I was leaving, I walked past half a dozen employees bullshitting with one another, totally disinterested in why I was leaving empty handed. Home Depot may be cheap, but it sucks. How in the hell do they prosper and Best Buy fails?

I stopped at some little auto parts shop I never knew existed and found what I wanted right away. The guy at the counter knew exactly what I was looking for and he also sold me some space age spray lubricant I figure I can use on my brake cables. I paid twelve bucks. Maybe Home Depot would be cheaper, but I don’t want to spend all day finding something just to save a few bucks. Time is money too.

Maybe people like spending hours browsing Home Depot. That certainly seems true of garden customers. I always see some poor guy with his wife in the garden center. She’s looking for plants and he is looking for some way to hang himself. The shopping carts shaped like race cars, so the kids can come along says Home Depot is not targeting just men. There’s something I’m missing, as the fact remains that Home depot exists, while Best Buy is headed to bankruptcy.

One thought on “Ramblings About Big Box Stores

  1. Good stuff – I like the Z-Man guy on the street posts. FWIW I never have issues getting good help at Home Depot. But I also see no need to go to Best Buy. I would like to see how you would handle an Ikea.

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