I have been to Lowe’s about fifteen times since we started our project. John has been once. By the end of the trip, my cart is always full of long, awkward, bulky or heavy items. I about hit my head on these long trim pieces as I headed out to the parking lot.
Normally, I’m fine with the “I shop, he works” arrangement in our relationship. Except, when it comes to Lowe’s. Here are some examples of the shopping that I do for John & I that I don’t mind one bit:
- picking up a new pair of Wangler’s and more socks at the western store when I make a trip home.
- going to the grocery store once or twice a week to get food for the two of us.
- picking out the drapes and throw pillows and candles and rugs and pots and flowers for our farmhouse.
However, walking into Lowe’s ALONE to buy a 3 fuses, 50 foot of some sort of cord, screws, paneling, paneling nails, and a saw blade for paneling was quite daunting for me at the beginning of this project. I really wasn’t excited to make these trips alone. However, John HAD to keep working & this project wasn’t going to get done if I didn’t buck up & learn to shop at Lowe’s.
First of all, I didn’t know where any of the stuff is at and I barely know what any of it is!
I can walk into any JC Penny or Target store in the United States and within 30 seconds I could probably guess where the black heels, kids shorts or Martha Stewart bedding is located. All the layouts are the same! Every store is basically identical.
Well, it turns out Lowe’s is the same!
Instead of being sorted by women’s, junior’s, kid’s and men’s….Lowe’s is sort of divided by room (kitchen, bathroom) or project (drywall, curtains, closets).
Maybe some folks were already aware of this? However, before this big house project I had never been into a home improvement store for anything. Except maybe a shovel. Or, plants. Other than that, I was clueless.
And, I most definitely had not gone to one alone with a list as long as my arm. So, we are almost done with the little house & here is what I have learned about shopping at Lowe’s:
Five Ways to Survive Lowe’s (if you happen to be a dorky girl like me who was a bit intimidated)
1. Get familiar with the layout. The first two or three times I went to Lowe’s, I sort of just wandered around lost-like. Eventually, I figured it out. Honestly, the layout is pretty simple. They have huge signs. And, they have people hired to work in each department. The guy standing in the light switch isle can seriously answer all of your questions. The lady by paneling, is probably a pro.
2. Shop one project ahead. Every time I went to Lowe’s to buy things, I found the place in the store were I would need to go for my new project. For example, I bought the paneling for the kitchen. But, before I left, I started looking into back splashes for our next project. I looked at the tile backsplash and grout. Then, I looked at the plastic backsplash. I decided that the plastic was the best option. Then, I went home, measured and figured out how much we needed. On the next trip, I bought the plastic backsplash & supplies. That day, I started looking a faucets. Make sense?
I did this mostly because I had no concept of:
- What I wanted.
- What it might cost.
Browsing ahead gave me time to think and plan. I also took pictures and then John was able to give his input without shopping or being annoyed at my snail-slow pace in the store. This method gave me time to cry a little (and then move on) after I discovered that some kitchen faucets cost $200 and a new sink is not possible without new countertops.
3. Ask questions. Explain your situation. The first time I tried to by a simple, white electrical outlet I nearly fell over laughing in the isle. There are literally more than 40 choices. I was thinking, “Why are there so many bllleeeepin’ choices?”
Then, I went and found one of those kind souls in a blue vest. I told him what I needed:
I said, “We need to replace the outlets in our kitchen. Everything falls out because they are too loose. They don’t have to be top-of-the line.”
He said, “Okay, you need this one. It’s $2 more than the cheapest one, but those are not very good. You will be happier with this one. How many do you need?”
See! It is easy to shop at Lowe’s!
When I tried to buy a ceiling fan, I said, “We have a fairly small room, I need a mid-grade fan in brown not silver. The ceiling is very low.”
Then he said, “Okay, how about these two?”
Knowing what I needed, he narrowed 80 options down to two. This saved me major time! Then, he said, “You might need this extension for your low ceiling, because is different than the size in the box.”
That saved me a trip back to the store for the correct length rod to hang the fan from.
4. Keep receipts. I live 40 minutes from Lowe’s & we often work late a night on the house. This is not the time for a quick trip to the store. I always buy a little extra and then return our leftovers. They, have never refused one yet! I really appreciate the good service.
5. Know the services available. At Lowe’s they will cut a board for you FOR FREE. That means, if you need a 2 pieces board cut to 4 foot each. They can cut one 10 ft piece down for you. This is handy, because non-truck owners can buy & haul lumber!
Also, if you check out on the far side of the store, THEY WILL LOAD YOUR CAR FOR YOU! This is incredibly helpful on “big” days like 20 sheets of paneling, 2 sacks of quick-dry concrete and 5 long, skinny sticks of trim. I pay, leave my cart, walk to get my car & then pull up under their garage. All I have to do is fold down the seats & make room! AWESOMENESS.
So, this is what I’ve learned. Thought I’d spread the love in case someone else gets stuck remodeling a little old house or building a new house!
You are a quick learner with great advice for the beginner.
Thanks! It was a long row to hoe there for a while!
Lowes has a great free tool called MyLowes which is attachable to your keychain or as a version the size of a credit card. Ask for it at the cash register and use it immediately. The cashier should ask to scan it each time you check out and it records your ongoing purchases for up to two years. Register the tool at Lowes.com and it can be used just like receipts which can and do get lost. The purchase data can be viewed by you at Lowes.com anytime if you need to check something. You get your own private space on their site useful for jotting down project ideas, room data, lists, etc. MyLowes even records your paint tint formulas for future reference.
That would have been very handy! I will remember this for my next project. Thanks!