I visited the new mega Menards in Golden Valley...and I'm still trying to find my way out of the spray paint section. No joke - there are 17 shades of black, alone. The new store on I-394 is literally double the size of the one it replaces--a whopping 250,000 square feet. A sign on a stainless steel dishwasher summed up Menards strategy at a time when most stores are downsizing: "We have hundreds more."
This store is everything both mesmerizing and horrifying about our consumer culture. Why offer one garden glove when you can display 109? It's all about options--for the things you need, and the many you don't. Just around the corner from those gloves: 3-pound bags of Circus Peanuts.
Menards says they've figured us out. They know what we need, what we want, and what we'll actually buy. Apparently, that includes 5-pound vats of Cheetos.
Last I spent a considerable amount of time in hardware stores was last fall when we replaced our mudroom carpet with tile. I visited a couple of flooring specialty stores, as well as Home Depot and Lowe's. I spent even more time on their websites. Ultimately, I bought, in person, at Lowes (after confirming online that what I wanted was available). I didn't consider Menards.
Next time I need a light fixture or a ladder or a major appliance, I would absolutely visit Mendards--perhaps even before Home Depot or Lowe's, where--crazy as it sounds--it sometimes feels like they've edited down the choices to a handful of popular options. Menards is playing--astutely, it seems--on .com weariness. No matter how many online reviews you read about a refrigerator, it doesn't replace swinging those double doors open in person. When you just want to get it done, knowing there's a store that has "hundreds" of everything is compelling.
But beware, the Cheetos.