Menards versus Home Depot, Where Should You Shop?

By Chris Wilson


On paper, Home Depot is a behemoth compared to Menards. Home Depot has 2,285 stores against Menards’ 350 locations. Menards is still primarily a privately-owned regional operator based in Wisconsin, while Home Depot is a publicly-traded company with international locations.

That stated, your interest is just one store; you don’t need hundreds of stores to meet your construction shopping needs.

If you had to choose between Menards and Home Depot, what factors would influence you?

Stay with us as we try and establish the differences between the two companies, leading up to your finding out which store would best meet your needs.

Location

Regardless of how good of a deal one is over the other, if you’re going to be buying some tools or materials, a near located store is the better choice. A store located close to your construction site translates into saved time. You are also likely to incur lower transportation costs for the goods bought.

Location is also crucial for returns. Sometimes the goods you buy might either be defective or a poor fit. In such instances, the cost of taking the item back to the store for a refund or exchange needs to be kept low. A close-by store would be the better choice.

In general, it is more likely that a Home Depot is located closer to you than a Menards store. Both stores are situated likely roughly the same distance from your construction site or home. In such an instance, determining the better store would have to be more than just about proximity.

Variety

A buyer needs freedom of choice. If you are looking for different paints for your garage door, you want to have a wide variety to choose from. That way, you make the best decision you possibly can for your construction needs.

Menards and Home Depot each have a variety. Menards appears to have more variety for lumber, gong by commentators on forums and specialty construction sites. The general observation is that buyers looking to find lumber for their construction purposes might want to consider Menards.

Home Depot has a wide variety of nearly all goods. Being the bigger business, Home Depot has access to more suppliers at better terms due to economies of scale. It is, therefore, unsurprising that many contractors prefer Home Depot to Menards.

A client who needs a wide variety of similar goods will prefer the store with a likelihood of stocking more variety.

 Pricing, rebates, and price matches

The bigger issue is ‘where do I get the most value for my dollar?’. The main reason why one store stands out from the other is the ability to stretch a dollar. For a person looking to do their construction, such as home improvements, getting a great deal could make the time and effort spent in the construction worth it.

For a corporate client who has multiple projects, small savings on a single item can translate into significant savings across the project.

Prices for items are generally the same in both Menards and Home Depot. An online commentator noted that when she was looking for specific bulbs for her house, she went to Menards, where they were listed for $3.99 but found the item to be out of stock. The client then drives to a Home Depot where she found the same bulbs but for $7.99. 

When the client notified the sales clerk, Home Depot immediately matched the Menards’ price for the item; the sales clerk did not even have to get authorization from his supervisor to do the price match.

The experience shows that both stores will probably match their competitor’s price to keep the sale and gain the client. Come to think of it, and it costs more to attract a new client than the margin on an item like a bulb is. These stores are willing to lose money on that initial sale because they will recoup that cost over the client’s lifetime purchases.

Military discounts

Veterans are among America’s most vulnerable populations. Most military members enroll in their late teens and spend the most productive part of their life fighting for the nation. When veterans come home, businesses find it necessary to support them as a way of saying thank you and being patriotic.

Home Depot has a well-publicized veteran’s discount. Additionally, Home Depot spends millions of dollars annually supporting military and veterans causes across the country. Home Depot seeks to be associated with the American way of life.

Menards’ approaches the issue slightly differently. Rather than choose one population demographic over another for discounts, Menards’ runs frequent sales promotions. It is typical to find 11% off on all items in a Menards store.

If you are a veteran, it would be worth it to check out the Home Deport discounts before making any purchase. If you are not a veteran, checking for Menard promotions and discounts can help you save money on purchases.

Customer service

Customers are willing to spend 17% more than they originally intended if a business offers excellent customer service, according to American Express VP Raymond Joabar, who was quoted by Forbes. As a person looking to spend their hard-earned money, you want to feel good about your purchase. You want to give your money to a good business.

Both Menards and Home Depot have good service. However, Home Depot appears to provide more customer value, which could be down to two main reasons.

           Experience

Home Depot has been in business longer than Menards. Consequently, Home Depot is reaping the benefits of an already streamlined business environment. Legacy systems for customer service are already established.

           In-house experts

Home Depot has technical people within its service staff. That means a layperson looking to make purchases can get impactful advice from a service staff member. The value of such advice contributes significantly to the customer’s experience.

Ease of navigation

A customer needs to get to the item they need fast and hassle-free. That is part of the customer’s good buying experience.

Home Depot has been in business longer than Menards. Consequently, Home Depot has learned from its customers’ behavior and created great floor plans for its buyers.

Some Menards stores sell more than just construction products. Some stores have clothing items and even snacks. For a person looking to quickly get some hammers and nails, having to negotiate through a section of jackets might be unsatisfactory.

Therefore, the store layout and shopping experience tend to be better in Home Depot stores than many Menards stores.

Online reviews

All serious businesses have an internet presence. With the online presence comes customer reviews. According to Sitejabber, Menards has a poor customer review. From 138 reviews, Menards has a 1.6-star rating from a possible 5-star rating.

Sitejabber reports favorable customer reviews for Home Depot. From 1,576 reviews, Home Depot has a 3.82-star rating. Home Depot excelled in service, prices, and store layout.

While online reviews are insightful, they are not be taken as a strict reflection of the situation on the ground. Any of many factors can influence reviews. That stated, it is essential to pay attention to what previous shoppers feel about a specific store.

Off-brand items

Home Depot has access to the highest level of suppliers for most of its stock. Suppliers may be fighting for a chance to get stocked by Home Depot. Menards has a lower star appeal.

As a result, Home Depot is more likely to stock brand items. That leaves Menard and other smaller stores to carry off-brand items.

Off-brand items are typically cheaper than branded items. More often than not, the quality difference between branded items and non-branded items is low to insignificant. Unless you are a contractor working with clients who demand certain brands or desire to use certain brands in your home improvements, off-brand items are a better option.

Conclusion

Both Menards and Home Depot have their strengths and weaknesses. The words ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ are used with caution here because what might appear to be a strength for one person could be a weakness to the other person. A contractor might desire branded items, while a do-it-yourself homeowner might desire functionality over a brand. 

Similarly, one buyer might prefer a store with diversity, while another wants a store with a defined stock profile.

The choice will be based on a favorable combination of factors. The company profiles discussed should give you an insight into both stores and help you choose your most favorable store according to your preferences.

Chris Wilson

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