Thursday, February 4, 2010

Because I don't know to whom to complain, I'll do it here.

An open letter to The Home Depot and Lowe's:
It snows during the winter. Even though I live in a condominium, I occasionally have the need for a snow shovel. If we get more than four or six inches I have to dig my car out of the parking space. Otherwise, I just brush it off and roll out. The shovel I have is best suited for loading gravel onto a lorry, but in a time of need it can do quite nicely as a snow shovel, since it barely knows the difference between gravel and snow.
I wound up with it because the last time we had a significant snowfall I went to The Home Depot the night before the snow only to find that you were fresh out. On Friday night we are expecting more. In the vicinity of one to two feet depending on your source. Either way, it's way too much to brush off with a broom, so once again I ventured to both of your huge warehouse stores in search of an adequate snow shovel, and once again, I was told you were sold out.
"We got a palate of them in yesterday and sold them all this morning," the woman at Lowe's told me. I don't know how many snow shovels fit on a palate, but I'd suspect that it wasn't enough for the customers like me who wandered in on Thursday afternoon. In the three minutes I was there, at least five other people were turned away.
I heard a similar story from the folks at The Home Depot. Strange, I thought, that they had plenty of weed whackers, rakes and gardening equipment. Being February and all, I would have thought that the gardening equipment would be practically useless. It is certainly more useless than a snow shovel, which seem to be in short supply. You both had ample supplies of ice melt and rock salt, loaded on the same palates that the snow shovels come on. Of course you'd have rock salt. It's the winter. It only makes sense. What doesn't make sense is why you have no snow shovels.
Why, I wondered, would it be so difficult to find a snow shovel in the winter? Snow shovel technology hasn't changed much in the past 50 years. There's a handle at one end and big scoopy thing at the other. The biggest advancement in shovels came about ten years ago when they put that curve in the handle so it wouldn't strain your back. Otherwise, a snow shovel from 2003 is a pretty nice piece of equipment. They're not flat screen TVs or cellular phones. Fred Flintstone could use the same shovel that I use - if I had one.
One would think (or at least I would) that a big warehouse store like The Home Depot or Lowe's would have the ability to stock more than "a palate" of shovels, and since they own calendars, they would know that it snows in February in New Jersey. Even if they stocked 400 shovels (which, stacked on their heads would take up about 100 feet of store space) and only sold 390 of them, the extra 10 that they had to put away until November wouldn't cut too deeply into their profit margins, and maybe - just maybe - people who went in for a snow shovel in advance of a snowstorm would walk out with one.
On Hallowe'en one could walk into one of your stores and see 50 Christmas trees. If I wanted a Christmas tree on December 23 I could get one. Why can't I get a snow shovel when it snows? Do you run out of lawnmowers when the spring comes? No. If I can get a weed whacker on Groundhog Day, I suspect I could buy a lawnmower on Memorial Day. You have plenty of them.
So, why don't you have a snow shovel when it snows?
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