I’ve been asked countless times for my thoughts on shopping at Ace Hardware and Home Depot. To answer that question, we need to consider the extensive knowledge I’ve gathered over the years and my sincere appreciation for small businesses. The comparison between these two stores can be likened to a David vs. Goliath showdown, in a figurative sense. So let’s delve into the details and I’ll explain further.
Ace Hardware and Home Depot: Company Size
When we assess Ace Hardware and Home Depot based on company size, we uncover some surprising facts. Home Depot, with its 2,200 stores, seems massive, but Ace Hardware actually boasts around 5,000 stores worldwide. Does this mean Ace Hardware is larger than Home Depot? Not so fast.
Ace Hardware stores come in various sizes, each unique in its own way. They tend to be more compact compared to the average Home Depot store, which typically spans a minimum of 105,000 square feet. On average, an Ace Hardware store measures around 30,000 square feet. This means it would take approximately three times the number of Ace Hardware stores to match the retail space of Home Depot. Quick math reveals that Home Depot occupies approximately 231 million square feet, while Ace Hardware covers about 150 million square feet.
Most retail space: Home Depot
Ace Hardware: The Helpful Place
Ace Hardware positions itself as “the place for useful hardware,” concentrating more on repair and maintenance rather than refurbishment. In contrast, Home Depot and Lowe’s offer vast sections dedicated to lumber, roofing, trim, and siding supplies, enabling customers to load materials onto pallets.
Are you looking for assistance and guidance with your plumbing project? At Home Depot, you might find someone who can point you in the right direction, but they might lack in-depth knowledge. However, at Ace Hardware, I’ve noticed that the staff tends to be more skilled. It could be the way they structure their business or the smaller store size, but either way, I usually find better advice at the Ace Hardware store in my town. It might be worth spending a little extra.
Best Customer Service: Ace Hardware
Ace Hardware and Home Depot: Corporate Structure
A significant distinction between Ace Hardware and Home Depot lies in their corporate structures. Ace Hardware utilizes franchises, while Home Depot owns every single store. This allows Ace Hardware to be more responsive to the needs of their community compared to their larger, one-size-fits-all competitors.
In my town, this means that Ace Hardware stocks replacement parts that are more likely to be required for homes like 1920s bungalows or 1950s block houses in Florida. When customers come in searching for specific parts, Ace Hardware makes sure they have them in stock, eliminating the need for special orders. I’ve seen a wide range of items, such as toilet parts, antique locks and hinges, air conditioner components, ballasts, and more.
Within the next six months, Ace Hardware plans to open six additional stores, bringing the total to eight in the next two years. This rapid expansion in Home Depot’s backyard can be attributed to the availability of retail space and a thriving economy.
Another notable difference between Home Depot and Ace Hardware is the selection of tool brands. Due to the smaller retail space, Ace Hardware offers a limited range compared to Home Depot. This results in a more focused selection of strategic partners. In my area, the main power tool brands found in each brick and mortar store are as follows:
Ace Hardware Tools Brand
- Black & Decker
- milwaukee tools
- Self Strength+
- steel grip
Home Depot Tools Brand
- Black + Decker
- cub cadet
- john deere
- milwaukee tools
- Rich Power Tools
- two backup
- troy bilt
It is worth mentioning that both Home Depot and Ace Hardware offer free “ship to store” options, significantly expanding the range of brands and products available. Nevertheless, the ability to walk into a store and immediately find what you need makes a substantial difference when comparing Ace Hardware and Home Depot.
Most brands: Home Depot
Home Renovation vs. Home Preservation
Home Depot primarily focuses on home improvement, while Ace Hardware leans more towards family protection. During economic downturns, people tend to tighten their wallets. Rather than completely remodeling their bathroom, they prefer to fix or enhance it. The fact that Ace Hardware stores are franchises allows them to tailor their inventory to suit the specific needs of their neighborhood. If the community is predominantly interested in outdoor activities and projects, they can stock up accordingly. Whether it’s a coastal or mountainous area, Ace Hardware can adapt its offerings to reflect the local demand.
However, starting a franchise is no small feat. It requires a net worth of $400,000 and $250,000 in cash, with startup fees often reaching millions of dollars. Each store can stock over 20,000 products.
Best for local demand and supply: Ace Hardware
Lumber and Building Materials
When it comes to lumber and building materials, Home Depot is definitely the go-to store. While Ace Hardware does carry PVC piping, fixtures, and various materials, Home Depot surpasses them in terms of volume and options. In many cases, you’ll find that Ace Hardware simply cannot meet your needs in terms of quantity or specific materials. Their limited space restricts their capabilities.
Consequently, Home Depot remains the preferred choice for professionals who require quick and efficient service. On the other hand, Ace Hardware is an excellent option when you need small pieces for landscaping, painting a room, installing plumbing, or conducting electrical repairs.
Building Supplies and Materials: The Home Depot
Wrapping Up the Home Depot vs. Ace Hardware Debate
In my personal experience, my local Ace Hardware store has been remarkably helpful. However, when it comes to pricing, Home Depot and Lowes tend to offer lower prices on most products, ranging from tools to electrical and plumbing supplies. It will be interesting to see if Ace Hardware can continue to compete in this market. We’ll also be watching closely to see which store thrives more in the inevitable next economic downturn. Competition is generally favorable for consumers, so let’s anticipate the results in the coming year.