As a seasoned DIYer and home improvement enthusiast, I regularly shop at home improvement retailers for supplies and materials for my projects. For years, I was a loyal Lowe’s shopper. I appreciated their vast product selection, weekly sales and promotions, and the overall shopping experience.
However, over time I realized that Lowe’s high prices were really adding up. I also struggled to find some more specialized products I needed. This led me to explore other home improvement stores that could better meet my needs and budget.
If you‘re also looking to venture beyond Lowe‘s, here are my top recommended alternatives for your home improvement shopping.
Lowe’s is the second largest home improvement retailer worldwide. They operate over 2,000 stores across North America.
There’s no doubt that Lowe’s offers an unmatched selection of products. You can find everything from lumber and tools to appliances, paint, flooring, and more. Their stores are nicely organized into departments which makes navigating them easier.
However, Lowe’s does tend to be more expensive than other retailers. They offer weekly promotions but even with those, their everyday prices are higher. Their massive stores can also be overwhelming for some customers.
Top 4 Stores Like Lowe‘s
If you‘re looking for lower prices or more personalized service, here are my top recommended alternatives to Lowe‘s:
1. The Home Depot
Home Depot is Lowe’s biggest competitor. They have over 2,300 stores across the US, Canada, and Mexico.
In terms of product selection, Home Depot is comparable to Lowe’s. You’ll find all the same departments along with trained specialists in each department to offer advice.
Where Home Depot shines over Lowe’s is with their prices and promotions. Their everyday prices tend to be lower and they offer more frequent site-wide sales. Signing up for their credit card also unlocks special discounts and perks.
The only downside is that some customers find their stores to be less organized than Lowe’s. But overall, you’ll enjoy the same one-stop shopping experience for less.
Menards is a regional home improvement chain with over 300 stores across the Midwest.
They stock all the usual home improvement products you’d expect. They have a reputation for very competitive pricing thanks to running weekly promotions stacked on already low prices.
Beyond pricing, Menards offers a few additional perks. All their stores have a garden center packed with plants and landscaping supplies. Veterans and active military can also take advantage of their 11% everyday discount.
The only potential drawback is that their product selection isn’t quite as vast as Lowe’s or Home Depot. But they still carry all the most popular national brands along with their own private label products.
3. Ace Hardware
With over 5,000 locally-owned stores across the country, Ace Hardware locations feel more like small neighborhood shops compared to the big box Lowe’s stores.
While each store stocks the basics like tools and hardware, inventory varies by location since owners can choose which products to carry. This allows stores to cater their selection more specifically to local customer demand.
The nice thing about Ace Hardware is their friendly and knowledgeable staff thanks to store owners and employees residing locally in the community. You’ll find staff ready to track down whatever obscure item or part you’re looking for.
Just keep in mind that pricing is not Ace Hardware’s strong suit. They emphasize service over rock-bottom prices. But they do regularly run local promotions that somewhat help offset higher prices.
4. True Value
Rounding out my list is True Value, another network of locally owned and operated hardware stores. They have over 4,500 stores globally.
Visiting a True Value store feels akin to supporting a small business rather than big box retailer. Each store has autonomy to operate how best suits their local community.
Store owners can choose which name brand or private label products to stock. So you’ll find more specialized offerings driven by local customer demand versus one-size-fits-all corporate purchasing like at Lowe’s.
The drawback to True Value’s flexibility is inconsistent pricing from one location to the next. Be sure to compare prices between stores to find the best deals in your area. Also, staff expertise can vary greatly depending on each store owner.
Key Differences at a Glance
To recap the key differences between Lowe’s and the top alternatives:
As you can see, the alternatives fill certain gaps where Lowe’s falls short. No two home improvement retailers are exactly alike. Evaluate what factors are most important to you, whether that’s pricing, selection, or customer service.
Ways to Save on Your Next Home Improvement Project
To maximize savings on your next DIY project or home remodel, keep these money-saving tips in mind regardless of where you shop:
- Wait for sales promotions and sign up for store loyalty programs
- Purchase store-brand items instead of name brands
- Buy materials in bulk for bigger projects
- Use coupons and discounted gift cards
- Rent tools instead of purchasing
Doing a bit of planning ahead and resisting impulse purchases goes a long way!
The Best Home Improvement Shopping Experience Awaits
While Lowe’s has earned their reputation as the top national home improvement retailer, you have fantastic alternatives to choose from. Whether you value competitive pricing, specialized service, or supporting local businesses, there’s a store to meet your needs.
I suggest taking a trip to explore any stores in your area that you haven’t visited yet. Grab a cart and browse the aisles. Talk to the employees and ask lots of questions. Once you find a retailer that clicks with your preferences and project plans, you’ll establish a valuable long-term relationship supporting all your DIY endeavors!