Hardware Store Etiquette
Your local home improvement store is an invaluable resource when it comes to planning your next renovation or DIY project. The following transgressions, however, can not only make the employees’ jobs harder, but may even put you in danger. Read on to learn how to stay safe—and avoid irking the people who work there—on your next trip to the home improvement store.
Don’t Wear Open-Toed Shoes
When visiting a hardware store, it’s best to dress like you’re going to a workshop or construction site. While you may not need a hardhat, it’s prudent to wear long pants and sturdy, closed-toed shoes to prevent accidents and injuries. Even better if you have steel-toe work boots! You’ll want to have protection if you accidentally drop a can of paint or 2x4 on your foot.
Don’t Climb the Shelves
Many home improvement stores are set up like warehouses, with extra stock stored vertically in the aisles. If you’re able to see that the item you’re looking for is just out of reach, find an employee to help you rather than climbing the shelves to grab it yourself. Some larger stores even provide step ladders meant to be used by customers, which make the process even easier.
Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice to Other Customers
Even if you fancy yourself a home improvement expert, it’s probably best to keep your opinions to yourself when at the hardware store. It can be tempting to offer advice to other customers who appear to be struggling—especially if you feel like you have the perfect solution to their problem. Wait until they specifically seek out your counsel, however, before chiming in.
Don’t Leave Unwanted Items in the Wrong Aisle
This is pretty basic shopping etiquette. Because big box home improvement stores are so massive, however, it makes employees’ jobs particularly difficult if you leave a discarded product in the wrong aisle. If you pick something up and later decide that you no longer want to purchase it, bring it to the cash register and give it to the cashier. Some stores even have a designated spot—like a cart near the checkout area—where customers can leave unwanted items.
Don’t Use the Forklifts
This piece of advice likely goes without saying, but forklifts and other motorized devices found in home improvement stores are exclusively meant to be used by members of the staff. A license is required to operate a forklift, and even just climbing onto one can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Don’t Enter Blocked-Off Aisles
You may have noticed that occasionally entire aisles are cordoned off at home improvement stores. This may mean that there’s been a spill or breakage that hasn’t been cleaned up yet, or it could mean that employees are restocking shelves with large items. If the product you need happens to be in an aisle that’s blocked off, ask an employee for help rather than ignoring the signage.
Don’t Try to Move Large Items Alone
Remember that employees are there to help. If you’re shopping alone and need help transporting a large item to the cash register or to your car, you should be able to easily find a member of the staff to lend a hand. There’s no shame in asking for assistance, and it’ll reduce the chances of hurting yourself or breaking something.
Don’t Leave Your Cart in the Middle of an Aisle
This etiquette rule applies just about anywhere, but leaving your cart unattended can be particularly frustrating to other customers in a home improvement store. When your flatbed cart is full of large, unwieldy items like lumber, it can take up a lot of space. If you leave it in the middle of an aisle, it forces other shoppers to struggle to maneuver their way around it or push it out of the way.
Don’t Leave Children Unattended
It’s always prudent to keep your little ones within sight when shopping, but letting them explore for a minute or two in a bookstore or clothing store likely doesn’t carry any major risks. Home improvement stores, on the other hand, are filled with items that can be extremely dangerous to young children. Because of the presence of sharp tools, harmful chemicals, and oversized items, it’s important to keep your kids by your side at all times.
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