Somebody, Please Take My Money

I spent 2 hours on Monday afternoon unsuccessfully looking for a space heater. 2 hours trying to spend money, and unable to do so. Ready and willing to make a purchase, with no takers.

In a tough economy, is this an acceptable way to do business? Let’s talk about the why for a minute, because it’s critical.

A space heater is a seasonal item. In Florida, where the temperature dips below 50 for about one month out of the typical year, they are not exactly a hot commodity. But during a year where nighttime temperatures have been below 40 for weeks at a time, I don’t see any of the companies I visited today practicing reactionary business.

Big names, too–Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco. Companies that are apparently too big and slow for their own good. Unable to react to a simple need to keep one room in my house warmer (the A/C heats our apartment unevenly).

The customer service desk answer? You guessed it…“Sorry, it’s a seasonal item.” My response? “It’s 40 outside, are you sure you’re in the right season??”

Seriously…they have grills and patio furniture out. Plenty of brand new portable A/C units on the shelves. And the funny thing is…there’s no one is in there buying this stuff! Because it’s 40 outside!!

In all seriousness, you can’t expect to do the same thing year after year and get the same results. Circumstances, like the weather, change the game. Even on a geographical/regional level, what works in Orlando may not work in Miami. It’s a long state, people–we’re all dealing with different conditions.

Do these huge, monster companies really have that kind of a grip micromanagement over their stores that local leadership can’t make the decision about what products to sell? Because let me tell you–the cold weather is all anyone’s talked about for the last 3 months down here. Non stop. Anyone with a brain and a bit of autonomy who runs a home improvement store would be stocking firewood, blankets, and…space heaters.

Not so, my friends. Not so. So thanks, Home Depot, Lowes, and the other seven stores I visited. I guess I’ll have to order online from someone who does carry what I want. And by the time it gets here…it’ll probably be warm.

Go figure.

Photo by Tobyotter.

25 thoughts on “Somebody, Please Take My Money

  1. I hear ya! I live in the northeast where space heaters are aplenty, however, I also agree that the stores don’t pay enough attention to things like climate. It doesn’t warm up like Spring where I live until later in April at least – but the patio furniture and pool toys are all out by the beginning of March. If my daughter tears her snow pants in February – too bad, the Spring fashions are out now – with a foot of snow on the ground.
    .-= Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last post: Homemade Garlic Bread =-.

    1. I know, crazy! I think the preemptive nature of the Christmas season has translated to every other season, too! We’re always buying ahead, but there’s never a chance to buy for “now.” Bummer.

  2. I am so with you. Went out on Friday to find a church coat for my rapidly growing teenager. No coats to be found! Um, hello? It is cold. Getting warmer fast, but still not getting out of the 50s at the hottest part of the day.

    We could start a chain of stores, with a motto something like “We sell what’s in season.”
    .-= Kate´s last post: I Have FAFSA Answers! =-.

  3. LOL! Yes, this is definitely a problem in the south. The weather swings in so many different directions you don’t know how to dress from one day to the next. Maybe it’ll be for the best and you’ll find it cheaper online. But I think at this moment you would have rather been warmer. Too funny!

    1. Would have definitely liked to be warmer! 🙂 (Actually, it’s the baby that’s a little chilly; we end up toasted out since our bedroom is well-vented).

  4. I have found that some smaller hardware stores in our area actually carry stuff that you can’t get at Lowes or HomeDepot. Besides, the staff is also very helpful in these smaller stores. They order stuff which comes in within days – and you don’t have to pay for shipping, either. Maybe it is a great idea to have the owner within earshot instead of having a store manager sitting somewhere removed from the retail space at the big hardware store chains.

    1. These local gems are few and far between, but when you find one–man, it’s good. I have my local purveyors of Polish food marked and know the managers by name. 🙂 There’s nothing like some fresh kielbasa or pierogies “from the back.”

  5. All I can say is that you could be in SoCal, looking for an A/C for the 80-degree weather and only finding space heaters spread all over the floor in your local CVS.

    One place that I have been pleased with is ACE Hardware. You can find anything there (for home improvement reasons) and if they don’t have it available in the store you can find it online and they ship to your local store for free. Pleasant huntings!

    1. Well, fancy seeing you here, Brad. 🙂 I can see that the reverse would probably be a bigger problem, heh!

      I’ll check out ACE (the helpful place!, let’s hope).

      1. Quick update: ACE HARDWARE HAS HEATERS! I have been redeemed, thanks to our buddy from Carbon Pawprint. 🙂 By the way, check out their dog line–cool stuff.

      2. I’m glad I could help! haha.

        Carbon Pawprint Designs focuses on providing top-quality, eco-minded apparel for pets and educating the public on ways to reduce their pet’s carbon paw print.
        .-= CBLonberger´s last post: Fire Hydrant – Eco Bandana =-.

  6. I used to work at a Walgreens store, where “seasonal merchandise” was put back int he stock room. I am sure if you talk to your neighbourhood Walgreens Store Manager or Asst. Manager, he/she can check the stock room for you if there are some left over hearters that didnt sell this season and will be stored in the stock room for next year.Your Choice may be limited to one or two sizes but if they didnt sell those , they will definitley have it stalked somewhere high up in the stock room marked “Winter”

    on the other hand if that doesnt work out check out Craigslist(please read their warning and alerts to avoid being scammed-most of the times its a judgement call) if youre willing to buy a used one
    Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I found the one I wanted at ACE, but it’s good to know drug stores keep this stuff in the back (I should have known–I used to work at CVS!!).

  7. This is a little off track, but your post title reminded me of a time when a company wouldn’t give me a 10% discount on something when an item from their ad was sold out. I just had the same feeling you did of, “why doesn’t anyone want my money”? It was in my hand and everything. Anyway, glad to see you found what you were looking for. Here is a link to my article if you want to read it:
    .-= Adam Hagerman´s last post: Debt Update: February 28, 2010 =-.

    1. Sometimes things companies do NOT to get our business just amaze me. Thanks for linking it up!

  8. I hear ya. I just flew into Florida this past Sunday for two weeks and I was REALLY hoping it was going to be warmer! Well, maybe by next Wednesday it will be 75 🙂

    A business whiz would of stock piled up north, came down to FL and sold them on Craigslist, eBay, some other method for a hefty profit.

    1. Now there’s an idea. I should have jumped on that sooner. 🙂 I guess the old saying of “fill a need and you’ll make money” holds true.

  9. But did you try Walgreens? They have them in Florida, right?
    I can’t believe you didn’t find one at Home Depot. That’s like me trying to search for those gas logs. I always seem to visit in the non-seasonal month. Least I can replace it with wood log to keep warm.
    .-= Money Funk´s last post: The Biz Idea =-.

  10. I had the same experience a couple of years back trying to buy a bread machine for my folks. Went to four different stores and couldn’t find it–and then checked several different websites and couldn’t find it in stock. I ended up having to go to Hell-Mart because literally no place else was willing to sell it to me. (I wrote rather a lengthy rant about this on my blog:
    .-= haverwench´s last post: Partying like it’s 1899 =-.

    1. Funny, I was just thinking about getting a bread machine. I guess it’s just one of those things that people don’t get anymore (do we really not have time to just stay home and make bread anymore??). I remember growing up, they used to carry them at all the big appliance stores…

  11. It’s depressing how out of touch these companies can be sometimes. Is it really that hard to keep a few ‘out of season’ items in the back, to be brought out if (when) weather or other situations dictate? It’s times like this that I think I could run a major store chain better than the MBAs that are currently in charge.
    .-= The Amateur Financier´s last post: Beware the Ides of…April? =-.

  12. This is funny because our office seems to be the coldest in the summer when it’s hottest outside. I searched unsuccessfully for a space heater during my first summer at work and was able to find one eventually – maybe in the fall when they start stocking all the winter items – at Target on sale for around $15 and it has served me faithfully for three years now 🙂

    1. Cool! The cheap-o we got seems to be working well, too. It’s funny that we need space heaters in Florida, but especially office buildings and I remember dorms, keep their spaces so darn cold. It’s even worse at night. Brrr.

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