Do You Prefer Lowe’s or Home Depot?
Ok, so I get this question a lot… do you shop at Home Depot or Lowe’s? Before I tell you, I’m going to give you a little back story. When I was in college, I was privileged to work at Home Depot as a lot tech (just a fancy name for cart pusher/vehicle loader). The amazing part about this is that they paid 75% of my college tuition as a part time employee, after I earned a passing grade (I don’t know if they still do, but may be worth checking out). I liked working there. They treating their employees well and never had any issues with the management.
When I graduated with a degree in Information Tech, I even tried to get a corporate job with Home Depot in Atlanta. It’s strange, but I never got a call back. It was really weird since they spent thousands of dollars on my education… but I digress. I say all of that to say that I am definitely a fan of Home Depot, but do I shop there? ….
The answer is no, I shop at Lowe’s. Why do you shop at Lowe’s if you are a fan of Home Depot? The answer comes down to price, sort of. I will say that 9 times out of 10, the prices between Home Depot and Lowe’s are within cents of each other. The price difference is negligible. So then the question is, what do you like better about Lowe’s and how does it come down to price if they are basically the same?
Every store in America, practically, has a return policy. Within a certain window, and for almost any reason, you can return items. This is a big thing for these home improvement stores because contractors will often have leftover material that they return for a refund. It beats having to make a bunch of trips to the store. Just buy a little extra and return what you don’t need. What’s the big deal, right?
Well, usually, when items are returned it is because they were extra items. The store takes them back and puts them back on the shelf. Sometimes though, customers return items that were damaged, or items that were special order. Damaged items obviously can’t go back on the shelves, and neither can special order items. So the question becomes what do the stores do with these items. Most of the time, both stores will mark the items down 15% or so and put them somewhere on clearance. Great.. 15% off is a good deal, right? Wrong! Usually at Lowe’s, depending on how long they have been on clearance, you can get them down to 50%, 75%, and even 85% off the original price.
Think about that for a second. I recently got a new bathroom vanity that was $180 new. It had a small crack on the back, that would never been seen, and I was able to get it for $30. Now, in this instance, I have a use for it, but if I didn’t, I could actually put it on craigslist and sell it for $100 and make a good profit. This is the sole reason why I prefer Lowe’s over Home Depot. They won’t tell you they will do this, you just have to ask. They may counter with a different price, or just tell you no. But, there’s no harm in asking.
Home depot used to do this, but a few years back they changed their markdown policy. Instead of wheeling and dealing, they usually stop at 15% off. If it doesn’t sell after a period of time, each store has a non-profit partners that they donate the items too. These partner agreements state that the non-profits can’t sell the products but only give them away. Home Depot can take a full 100% tax deduction on the products. The non-profit can then give these items to people in need, or use them on projects they need. This is definitely a noble thing, but doesn’t help me get a good deal.
So there it is… why I prefer Lowe’s over Home Depot. Next time you see a clearance item marked down at Lowe’s, ask them for an even bigger discount. You’d be surprised what they say! I once saw an entire pallet of windows worth of $2,000 sell for $300. What a deal!