Some may wonder what all the fuss is about. With more
than 1,500 Home Depots in North America – including
ones in Farmington, Montrose and Grand Junction –
what’s another one, they figure.
Yet, for the past few weeks, the topic of casual conversation
in coffee shops and on street corners up and down Main
Avenue has seemed to center on exactly this. Some openly
boast of multiple trips to the Mecca of do-it-yourselfedness,
while others sheepishly admit to reconaissance missions
“just to check things out,” and still others
staunchly pledge never to step foot on the premises, no
matter how tempting the power tool selection.
As for me, I fall somewhere in the wish-washy middle.
Yes, I have been to the new Home Depot. No, I did not
rush out on opening day with baited breath to ogle gleaming
new bathroom fixtures and large appliances. But, by the
same token, I was not dragged there kicking and screaming,
either. Rather, on my own volition, I made a conscious
decision to visit the second-largest retailer in the United
States. And yes, I spent money.
If it’s any consolation, the outing was not without
guilt. For years, I have been a staunch supporter of Kroeger’s
Hardware. In fact, I am pretty sure I own the record for
most trips in one day and most time logged on the courtesy
phone. I once spent an entire afternoon there learning
the finer points of underground sprinkler construction
and have haunted the plumbing aisles to the point that
I swear certain employees see me and run the other way.
The man in paints treats me like a long-lost friend whenever
I visit, even if it happens to be the fifth time in the
same day. When I need help with carry out, there’s
always a willing and able body, and returns are always
taken, no questions asked.
And of course, no trip to Kroeger’s would be complete
without the strangely delicious Idaho Spud, a gooey, confectionary
cross between a chocolate-covered marshmallow and a coconut-flecked
hand grenade. Packaged in plain brown wrapping with yellow
lettering, it’s the type of thing that probably
should have gone out with beehives and tailfins. Yet,
for some reason it lives on at Kroeger’s, conveniently
placed at the check-out for impulse splurges.
Given the nostalgia, it is easy to see why I really wanted
to be in the staunch opponent group with the hold-outs
and boycotters. I wanted to say “no” to the
sweat-shop mass-produced, mom-and-pop annihilating, brick-and-mortar
gobbling, evil monolith. But on a limited, often negative
income, and with a dilapidated house sorely in need of
running water and a baby on the way, it’s hard to
So I did the Depot. Of course, because of fear of public
retribution, my fall from retail ideology was not information
I readily volunteered. When a neighbor announced his firm
stance in the dissenter camp, denouncing the rest of us
as weak, I slyly changed the subject. When coworkers asked
what I did over the weekend, I conveniently left out the
part about my big box shopping trip. But I was living
a lie. Which is why, after 48 hours of holding it inside,
I cracked under the pressure when caught off guard one
morning on the way to work. I ran into two local carpenters
who were talking shop when one turned to me asking what
I thought of Home Depot.
Panic ensued. Obviously he had seen me there, probably
fawning over the Ralph Lauren paint chips conspicuously
in plain view of the main entrance. God only knows who
else saw me. Seeing no way out, I came clean.
“You must have seen me there Sunday,” I stammered.
Judging from his blank expression, I had just incriminated
myself. Curiously enough, I felt a feeling of relief wash
over me at my coming out. And, as is almost always the
case, the backlash was not nearly as bad as I had imagined.
I was neither shunned nor rebuked. The earth did not open
up and swallow me. In fact, I soon found I was not the
only one lugging around the dirty little secret of retail
infidelity. In fact, both men readily admitted to not
only frequenting the dreaded McDepot, but the Albuquerque
Lowe’s as well.
Where you shopped depended on what you were looking for,
and some stores were better equipped than others to serve
certain needs, they pointed out. Indeed, I had found this
to be true.
While the sheer breadth of items offered at the big orange
retailer is bedazzling to a weekend DIY warrior such as
myself, there are drawbacks, especially for those of us
with poor eyesight and an even poorer sense of direction.
Unlike the friendly neighborhood variety hardware, where
the aisles and their contents are committed to memory,
the rows at the Depot seemed to stretch on forever. It’s
often necessary to scan the towering shelves numerous
times, with neck craned at a dangerously unnatural angle,
just to find they don’t have what you’re looking
for. More than once, a search was abandoned due to neck
spasms and temporary flourescent-light blindness.
Which is not to say the trip was a total wash. As mentioned,
I did not leave empty-handed, but my cart didn’t
necessarily runneth over, either. When it came to the
small stuff – ceramic drawer pulls shaped like tiny
ears of corn, coat hooks in assorted sizes and finishes,
the smiling gent at the front door – I was at a
loss. And when everything was said and done, at the end
of the day I still found myself pulling into the familiar
diagonal parking spot, passing by the smiling, red-vested
gent and leaving in possession of that familiar red-ticking-striped
paper bag filled with assorted trinkets, widgets and doodads
– and the freshest Idaho Spud this side of the Great