Home Depot & Lowe’s
I’ve been needing some supplies, and have been running up lists for what I want/need from Home Depot and Lowe’s.
The last time I talked about ordering from a home center, I got yelled at by a couple of readers and visitors, but thanked from some Lowe’s workers.
In my mind, I assume my order is picked and loaded at night, after stores close early to customers, and delivered the next day by a driver who has little interactions with others, adhering to social distancing practices. I’ve created a list of supplies, and it’s going to be expensive to pay delivery fees, if or when I do place those orders, but I’d think that’s safer than visiting the local stores.
I’ve been hearing about Black Friday-like crowds at stores. In my town’s Facebook page, someone asked how busy it was at the nearby Home Depot, and there were comments about how certain stores were very busy and to be avoided.
There are news reports of large family outings at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores, of people drinking coffee while lounging on lawn furniture displays, and of people strolling around the stores not buying anything and just “looking around.”
I’d like to visit the local stores to save money, and yes even look around, but I won’t.
I had wanted to report on how stores are adapting to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, which requires firsthand observations, but I’d just get in the way and be one more person there for a non-essential purpose.
I really hope that online orders are fulfilled how I envision them, with workers safe and protected. There are no recommendations or guidelines regarding online orders yet, and so we’re left to our personal discretion.
I know that there must be quite a few pros and consumers making essential supply runs to Home Depot and Lowe’s, but news reports about mulch and tulip bulbs not being essential suggest there are a lot of shoppers who shouldn’t be there.
The parking lot of my local garden center was crowded. Sure, I’d like to go, but I won’t, at least not right now.
I’d like to pick up my more pressing supplies from the local Home Depot, but refrained, even before we were put under “seriously, don’t go out if you don’t need to!!” advisement, with official saying even grocery store runs should be avoided right now if you have the option.
As you might know, ToolGuyd has affiliate relationships with Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other online retailers. Following is an excerpt of the guidelines one big box retailer sent to me:
The [redacted] team needs you to immediately make the following changes to our coverage on your site:
Remove any calls for BOPIS Buy online, pick up, in-store
Below are a few ideas we have:
Promote our 2-Day free shipping on orders over $45
Buy button inclusions on product review posts
Basically, they’re telling us to avoid any language that encourages in-store visits – even in-store pickup – and that such language could be replaced with language that focuses more on online ordering with home delivery.
That’s as close to a *thumbs up, we’re safely managing online orders* as I’ve seen.
I wish I had visited the local home centers before shelter-in-place guidelines went into effect, but even then I was conscious that every outing was an exposure risk. I really don’t know people still aren’t taking this seriously. Family outings at Home Depot and Lowe’s because the mall and other stores are closed??!
Unprecedented Garden Demands
I ordered vegetable seeds a couple of weeks, and still haven’t received 2 out of 4 orders. Burpee, a name you probably recognize if you’ve ever looked at the seed packets at Home Depot, is closing to new orders for a few days, thru 4/15/20 (at least?), as they work to catch up with order fulfillment in a safe manner.
Burpee cites unprecedented order volume and correspondence.
Territorial Seed has also temporarily suspended orders due to unprecedented demand. They expect to open to new orders again in 2 weeks.
I just received a call from a local bank. They called me a week ago to tell me they have shorter hours, and today they called to tell me the branch lobby is closed. Only the bank drive-thru will be open.
I was surprised, but honestly the calls were welcome, unlike the upselling calls I’ve received from two other local branches over the past two years.
They also asked if I needed to make a CARES Act small business forgivable loan application, and pointed me to the bank’s website for more information.
I went to the supermarket a few days ago, 10 days after my last visit, and they had a line outdoors. An associate wiped down cart handles, and there were floor markings designating where you should stand to remain 6+ feet apart.
The store had a one-in, one-out policy. The store wasn’t crowded inside, but it also wasn’t very empty.
There were a couple of pairs and trios of people, most of whom weren’t wearing masks. Most individual shoppers were wearing face masks.
I was wearing a low-profile woodworking mask sample, and I hated it because when it wasn’t hurting my nose it was sliding down a little. But, it was either that, a too-warm neck gaiter, or nothing. I ordered cloth masks from a small US maker, but they’ve been swamped with orders and it’ll be some time before they arrived.
I was also wearing disposable gloves because 1) it helps me avoid touching my face, and 2) my hands have been so dry and torn up that alcohol sanitizer really hurts.
Some of the people that were shopping together sometimes had two carts, and that really clogged up some shopping aisles. Others were together and with only one cart, but they still clogged up narrow walkways.
Perhaps having one-way policies for the aisles would really cut down on bottlenecks where people have to pass each other.
Last time I went to the store, they had a distancing policy at the checkout registers, where you stand behind a line while you load your groceries onto the belt, and step forward only when called to pay for the order. The clean the conveyor belt and all customer-interaction surfaces between each customer.
This time, they had plastic barrier sheets set up by the checkout pads. This wasn’t unexpected, as I read some stores were doing this. I hope it’s enough to protect cashiers and retail workers, as so far they haven’t been allowed to wear masks.
I have read that some cities (such as LA) have or are implementing rules where customers cannot enter stores without wearing a cloth face mask or covering of some kind.
Where we live, there are still more cases of positive COVID-19 cases each day. It’s a little confusing, since recent cases must have been transmitted after social distancing guidelines went into effect.
State and county parks are now closed, because people were still congregating in groups and not practicing social distancing.
Locally, “play dates” were once again discouraged.
My wife took our preschooler for a walk and some dingbat jackass screamed out the window “6 feeeeeet!” Are there really people who really think a 3 year old should be 6 feet away from their parents? How do they cross the street then?
Every day, people post photos to the local Facebook page, showing disposable gloves that have been littered across town.
If you take gloves off properly, you can just stick them in your back pocket until you get to a garbage can.
We picked up a pizza last week, at an unfamiliar restaurant the next town over since our favored local pizza shop closed after a week of curb-side pickup experiments and because we don’t like the others. It was chaos. This restaurant was also having pickups done outdoors, but people don’t know how to stand 6 feet apart. Our 30 min ETA was off and so I had to wait a few minutes. I don’t know how I’d run things at a pizzeria or take-out at a restaurant, but leaving a dozen customers to stand around aimlessly in a small parking lot is not a good idea. I stood way off to the side and waited for my number.
What Comes Next?
It’s frustrating for everyone to practice social distancing, but this is what we need to do to stay safe and healthy. Guidelines have been changing, and businesses have been adapting. We have to do what’s necessary to be safe, and to ensure the safety of others.
Thankfully, *knock on wood*, we’re safe and healthy, and trying to stay that way.
I’m saddened by the stories I read in the news each day, about the mounting deaths, healthcare workers that are being pushed and pushing themselves to exhaustion and unimaginable challenges. Statistics are climbing, and projections for illnesses and deaths are scary. I try to shut off that part of my mind.
Every outing is a potential risk exposure.
I’m sure we’ll conquer this – it’s just a matter of waiting for the medical field to work out effective therapies and/or a vaccine, as well as widespread rapid testing, and for civil leadership to work out rules for safe societal interactions.
It’s hard to know that there’s nothing we can do. How can we help those that are helping us? How can we show appreciation for the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers who are enduring so much to keep their patients and the general public healthy and alive?
I try to narrow my focus for these posts, but it’s hard.
Earlier today I wrote about a deal on outdoor power tools. I struggled with that – how can I write about anything tool-related, with everyday life so disrupted as it is now? Thousands of people are sick and dying from COVID-19, and healthy people and survivors are isolated and scared. Yes, people die every day, and from a wide variety of causes, but there has never been such upheaval to our way of life in this generation.
I worry it makes me seem unsympathetic or insensitive, but I’ve been avoiding talking about the coronavirus pandemic in general terms, instead focusing on my direct observations and reportings about what’s happening at the big box home centers. It’s a lot to handle, but I’m also sure you’ve been reading or hearing enough from general news channels.
How have you guys been holding up?
For those readers and visitors that might work at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, or other such hardware stores and home centers, what has the scene been like at your stores?