To read the latest press about the death of retail, you would be forgiven if you took away that online shopping had conquered brick and mortar for good. A recent experience of mine shows a few cracks in the armor.
I have a large, ungainly, unsightly, and generally obnoxious bush in my front yard that has expanded over the lot line into the yard next door. It’s gone beyond responding to any sort of pruning, and the roots are starting to push up through the grass. So, my neighbor and I decided it’s time to take it out.
Neither of us owns a chainsaw, for some reason. I’ve thought about buying one, so this seemed like a good excuse to indulge my tool fetish. So I did what now seems like normal behavior: I went to homedepot.com and looked at chainsaws. First, I checked out rental prices to get a baseline, and then looked at the purchase options.
I knew I wanted an electric one; messing with premix isn’t something I want to do, and I don’t expect this chainsaw to get heavy use. A medium-duty, corded electric sounded about right, and the cheapest would cost less than renting one for four hours. Home Depot offered several models on the website, and according to the inventory tracker, my closest store had all the various models in stock.
A Few Chinks in the Armor
While Home Depot would be happy to ship me one for free, I wanted to get to work right away. I hopped into the car and took a trip to brick & mortar land. That’s where the cracks started to open up.
Three of the models shown to be in stock online were, in reality, out of stock on the shelf. According to a helpful store employee, they don’t keep backstock on chainsaws, so no luck there. Okay, plan B. I hop back into the car and head over to Lowe’s. Lowe’s had a full complement of chainsaws – different brands, but similar specs and price points.
Of course, now I’m intrigued. While standing in Lowe’s, I pull out my trusty iPhone and Google “corded electric chainsaws.” Yes, I am guilty of showrooming. Turns out Walmart carries several models that have similar specs to what I was looking for, and in a couple of cases, they are much cheaper.
Down the Rabbit Hole We Go
I’ve given up on taking the bush out today, and I’ve decided to follow up and see where this leads. When I get home, I go to Walmart.com, and look up the model I found on my phone. Now it gets really confusing: the same model that was $36 on my phone is $49 on Walmart.com on my home computer. It’s not in-store in either case, and I can’t get it for five days (but free shipping!).
Just for fun, I try Amazon. I find the same chainsaw, same $36, but will take 2-4 weeks, even on Prime. But I am reassured by the large number of positive reviews for my cheap chainsaw choice.
The Treasure Hunt
What could have been a simple exercise has now turned into a challenge, and something of a treasure hunt. I was prepared to pay $49 for a decent, medium-duty electric chainsaw. If Home Depot would’ve had that one in stock – as was indicated by the website – I would have purchased it and come home and gotten to work. The out-of-stock led me down a price-chasing rabbit hole. Walmart had multiple prices on the same item, depending on how I accessed the site.
The good news is I saved $15. But my search clearly shows that there is much work to be done when it comes to online and the connection not only to brick & mortar, but to the various online access options.
For the record, I ordered the cheapest option from Walmart.com. It is supposed to get here Friday (free shipping!), so I won’t be facing the green monster in my front yard till next weekend. And I’ve got enough left over to buy a six-pack to celebrate with my neighbor once we’ve conquered it.