Surprises in Store: What Big-Box Warehouses Offer Homeowners

A man pushes a cart through Costco.

A man pushes a cart through Costco.

Being a homeowner can be exciting and overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-timer who’s been living in an apartment, in a roommate situation or “at home” with your parents.

You probably have a million ideas about how you want to furnish and decorate your new space. You may also be concerned about your home maintenance chores and any repairs your new home may need that aren’t covered by your builder’s warranty.

Worry not.

Just about everything you’ll need and a ton of stuff you’ll want for your home can be found at reasonable prices at your nearest big-box store. Two things you’ll want to get right away are a set of basic tools and a supply of filters for your heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system.

The two big stores that cater directly to homeowners are Home Depot and Lowe’s. Two other big boxes — Costco and Sam’s Club — also offer many products and services for homeowners. Home Depot and Lowe’s are open to the public; Costco and Sam’s are membership warehouses.

Here’s an overview of what each of these four stores offers:

Home Depot

Home Depot is organized by the types of building materials and other parts of your home. Stroll through a store and you’ll find aisles for plumbing, electrical, paint, lumber, major appliances, power tools, storage, lighting and much more. There’s also an outdoor garden section with live plants suitable for your local climate.

If you’re planning to make home improvements, check out Home Depot’s do-it-yourself (DIY) workshops. In an hour, you can learn how to install a faucet, light fixture or carbon monoxide detector. If you don’t want to DIY, Home Depot offers installation services for window blinds, storage systems, solar panels, fences, closet organizers and even Christmas lights. There’s also a handyman service if you need a variety of small fixes around your home.

If you shop at Home Depot online, check out the inspiration center, which offers step-by-step guides and how-to videos for home repairs and improvements. If you’re upgrading your appliances, look for the online rebate center, which can help you score cash back from local utility companies.

Lowe’s

Like Home Depot, Lowe’s is a homeowner warehouse store with aisles for building supplies, electrical, plumbing, hardware, flooring, paint, storage, tools and gardening products. Lowe’s also offers in-home installation services for window blinds, shutters, ceiling fans, outdoor sheds and more, plus in-store paint color-matching and interior design consultations.

If your project isn’t on Lowe’s list of installation services, check out Porch.com, a Lowe’s affiliate that matches homeowners with building professionals in the local community. Lowe’s also operates Resolve By Lowe’s, an online service that connects homeowners with disaster remediation services and home restoration and repair professionals.

Lowe’s offers a 10 percent discount to active-duty and reserve military personnel and veterans and their spouses and dependent children up to age 18. To get the discount, you need to enroll online or in a Lowe’s store.

Lowe’s and Home Depot are fierce competitors that sell many of the same products with comparable prices. If you can’t find what you need at one, try the other, and if you’re not sure what you need, stop by a store and ask a salesperson for help. If you need a replacement part, bring the one that broke to the store with you.

Costco

Costco isn’t primarily a home supply store like Home Depot or Lowe’s. Rather, it’s a warehouse shopping experience that allows its members to buy in bulk and purchase basic products at competitive prices. Goods for sale include groceries, clothing, jewelry, electronics, travel gear and more.

Despite its broader mission, Costco sells plenty of products and services for homeowners. The list includes furniture, mattresses, big-screen TVs, safes, storage, lighting, tools, light bulbs, landscape maintenance equipment and grills. 

Costco also offers bottled water delivery and a 25 percent member discount at Budget Truck Rental.

A standard Costco membership costs $60 annually. An executive membership with additional benefits costs $120 annually.

Sam’s Club

Sam’s Club is mostly about buying in bulk and discounts on everyday products, but this popular warehouse chain also has a lot of appeal for homeowners. Among the household-related products you can find are the following:
• Mattresses
• Furniture
• Outdoor gazebos, awnings, pergolas and canopies
• Outdoor fountains, ponds, fire pits and lighting
• Snow removal equipment
• Lawn mowers
• Landscaping equipment
• Pressure washers
• Spas and saunas
• Outdoor playsets

A no-frills membership at Sam’s Club costs $45 annually. An upgraded membership with additional discounts and other extras costs $100 annually.
Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, book editor and blogger whose work has been published by a long list of financial, mortgage and banking websites, trade magazines and newspapers. You can find her on Google+.

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