Should I Buy at a Big Box Store or Lumber Yard?

More and more big box stores are putting the squeeze on local lumber yards and hardware stores. The allure of selection, discounts, and convenient hours that smaller retailers canít offer are competitive advantages that contribute to their impressive growth rate despite a sluggish economy. Is it the better deal it seems?


Quality vs. Price

Usually, you must choose between higher quality of your local lumber yard and the price of a purchasing giant. I have experienced this first hand many times over many different products that often initially appear the same.

Special Order vs. Availability

Home Depot and Lowe's usually have the hard to find item you're looking for. Often, local lumberyards must order in your special request, and this is a crap shoot as to whether you actually get the exact item you ordered in a timely manner.

Actual Price Paid

Many times I have experienced the "Home Depot short change" without realizing it. For instance, Grace Water and Ice shield is customarily sold in 225 square foot rolls. Home Depot began carrying the same item in a very similar box but containing 200 square feet at a slightly lower price. The actual price paid was consequently higher than my local supplier's. The box stores can save you money on certain items, but don't assume your getting the best deal without comparing.

Lumber Quality

On a good day, the box stores carry a good quality lumber, but it is definitely hit or miss. Local lumber yards quality of product tend to be higher and more consistent.

Service vs. Self-Service

If you know exactly what you want, can find it, and don't mind carrying it a mile or two through the store and across the parking lot to your vehicle, box stores are for you. If you need expertise, loading assistance or personal service, use your local yard.


Post Office Box 957 - North Conway, NH -  TEL/FAX 603-356-7777