I was at Menards and Lowes this weekend.  It was a weekend chocked full of home improvement shopping and projects.  As a direct result of my visits to Menards and Lowes I made some observations about the marketing, design, products and employees in both stores.  I am an unpaid and unsolicited consultant still waiting for the phone to ring:)  And, after exerting myself in strange and harmful positions for hours at a time, I am struggling to bend over, sit on the toilet and well, just move in general.  If you are in a part of the country where you are not familiar with either of these stores, they are home improvement supply stores similar to Home Depot.  If ever given the chance to peruse Menards, you should not miss the opportunity.  In that experience of shopping for things like; paint, 2x4's, sheets of drywall, screws, power tools, lighting, windows, doors, flooring, etc, you will also find a strange concoction of other items.  For instance, if you want shoelaces, sugary orange slices, a frozen pizza, mac & cheese, Lucky Charms, Campbells soup, a gallon of milk or bread you can also pick those things up.  Now not only is there a very strange eclectic mix of "one of these things just doesn't belong here" products, but there is no rhyme or reason to how the store is laid out product wise.  I found shoelaces by the cleaning sponges.  It appears to me that either a blind person developed the master product store layout or, someone who has major organization issues and should be on the show "Hoarders", is at the helm.  Finding an employee to help or that makes you feel confident in their knowledge level for my home improvement questions is an issue.  Menards is a bit like a C-rated movie or like watching reruns of "Creature Feature" only to realize its special effects were mostly made using aluminum foil.  The only thing they have going for them is the cost (low quality and price - what a positive winning combination!), and that their entrance and exit doors are one in the same.  Lowes on the other hand, does not have their entrance and exit doors together.  As you pull in the parking lot you must make a snap decision that goes like this:  Do I want to walk a mile to get to the entrance doors and then only a few steps when I exit the building?  Or, do I want to walk only a few steps to enter Lowes and then when my cart is heaped with 10 boxes of ceramic tile do I want to trudge a mile to the car to unload?  Once inside the building Lowes layout is more logical, the staff far more A-team knowledgeable and you are not bombarded with items that frighten you in a home improvement store like; shoelaces, pizza and milk next to the moth balls.  A gentleman named Asa was helping my husband and I over the weekend in the tile department.  My husband was picking his brain about some subfloor options and we were just generally having a great interaction with him.  He was warm, engaging and laughed readily with us.  I asked him was there a story behind his being named Asa as it's a Bible name.  "Yes," he said, "my parents named all us kids "A" names."  He ratted off his sibling's "A" names which were fare more normal than was his name of Asa.  I quipped back, laughing while teasing him, "Why did they not name you Adam, or Aaron or say, Adolf?"  Deadpan and with great comedic timing, he fired back, "I'm Jewish."  The three of us could not stop laughing.  As he wheeled our 4 ton cart to the front of the store, he said that he would most definitely remember us when we came back in and that he had a great time.  My store preference was already tipped toward Lowes over Menards, but Asa slam dunked the customer service category with his great comeback.  Plus, I don't want milk or circus peanuts next to baseboard trim!

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