Sunday, April 14, 2013

Dear Home Improvement Warehouse

Thanks to my new approach at life called "Get Out of Your Recliner and Actually Do Something That Isn't Snacking", I've been working hard to get my vegetable garden together and to get my fruit trees ready for summer.  Between my inability to correctly judge how much of something I will need to complete a task, and the fact that I have a fetish involving red aprons, I've had to make many trips to your store.  Normally, this is not a problem, because it has been cold, and I could just slip in the garden center and slip right out.  Lately, it's gotten warmer, and more and more people have flooded the garden center.  This, as always, becomes a problem for me.  I have been initiated into a new club: The Fraternal Order Men in Lowes on a Sunday.

The whole scene is a Tim Allen joke being performed with the dogged persistence of a community theater that thinks their audience actually cares.  Henpecked husbands slouching along as their wives jabber constantly behind them, rolling their eyes as they meet yours as if to say "Women, amiright?"  Kids in their church clothes running around, having dirt fights and riding bags of mulch like donkeys as their put upon parents try to find one minute to choose what type of marigold will compliment the house perfectly and kill the neighbors with jealousy.  Then, there's me, the single man who just wants a damned bag of compost.  I don't want to have to fight to find a cart.  I don't want to get hit in the leg by a kid swinging a lawn flamingo.  I shouldn't have to wait in a line of fifteen people all buying perennials. 

I think the problem might be in your advertising.  You have focused on letting everyone know what you are: a home improvement store endorsed by the venerable Gene Hackman.  What you need to focus on conveying is what you are NOT all about.

1) You are not a dating destination.  No one should be walking hand in hand through the gardening department.  There is nothing romantic about trays full of half dead gardenias, so why are couples strolling around the aisles as slow as they can, holding up us normal-speed to fast-speed people who don't want to spend all day surrounded by cretins babbling on about grass seed?

2) This is not a playground.  There are sharp things everywhere, and I saw a kid eat a plant today.  He leaned over and bit the leaf right off the plant, like hands were only meant for flipping off squares that don't eat foliage in stores.  I am, however, kind of partial to seeing kids trip and fall over loose pots or various debris as they run willy nilly.

3) Your employees are normal people.  The red vest does not give them super knowledge.  I was in your store picking out a new pear tree.  I happened to be wearing my Phillies warmup jacket at the time, and I felt a tap on my should.  Before I could even start turning around, the woman behind me let out a stream words so frantic and fast paced that Robin Williams would think she'd done too much speed.  The first ten seconds encompassed some thirty odd questions regarding the purchase, planting, maintenance, care, punishment, breeding, and best ways to serve a dwarf cherry tree.  Good for you if any average worker there knows that information, but all I could do was turn around, stare at the woman, look at my jacket, and say, "Those trees will murder everything and everyone you know and love.  Run.  Now" before picking up my pear tree and walking briskly away.

Hopefully, these suggestions are helpful to you.  Maybe they will help you better serve people.  Or, maybe you could have more than one lane open on a sunny Sunday afternoon so I don't have to miss two innings of a Phils game trying to pick up some trellis netting and Roundup.  I have cut people for less.  Cut them right out of my Christmas card list. 

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