Fun Times at the Hardware Store

So, we headed down to the local Orchard Supply Hardware store the other day to buy some steel aircraft grade cable. When we were there, I see a group of guys that look like they might be from the other local robotics team. So, my friend (tenfour on these boards) goes up to them and says “are you guys workng on some sort of project?” and they say “yeah, we’re lifting his Jeep” we’re like “oh” and they are all like “that was odd”

And then, this store is really strange for selling one of everything REALLY BIG. But they only stock one. They have ONE 10" 45 degree threaded pipe elbow that is like $99. They have ONE giant pipe wrench that is like 7 feet long. They have ONE giant level, that is like 10 or 12 feet long. They have ONE giant ratchet that is like a 2" drive. And to match they have ONE like 6" socket. Then they have ONE giant adjustable wrench that looks like it would be used for tightening the nuts that hold a big traffic light to the sidewalk.

And last, they have ONE giant turnbuckle. This thing is 5 feet long and is all cast, galvanized steel and weighs like 50 lbs. It costs $150. They have only sold it once in the store. A few months ago we asked one of the employees is they ever sold it and he said he thought he remembered a time a few years ago when some guy bought it. He couldn’t remember what for. So the day we asked him, we marked it on the back with just a touch of sharpie and just the other day (months later) the mark is still there so it is the same one.

I thought I’d just go buy this thing one day to see what the cashier says. I bet the moment I walk out the door with a completed sale all the employees will throw a big party celebraing the sale of the giant turnbuckle. :smiley: And then I’ll just take it back two days later and say I bought the wrong size and exchange it for a 5 inch one that costs $2.99. They will be so sad when I return it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever do this but it shure would be funny.

So back to that steel aircraft cable. We calculated how much we wanted to buy and then started pulling it off the spool. The cable got stuck and the spool goes tumbling on to the floor and rolling down the isle almost hitting this guy. Then we unreel it okay but have no way to measure it. So, we notice that the floor tiles in the store are 12" tiles with very minimal space between. So we lay out a line on the floor for as long as we were going to get. Then all these customers start coming over. This one lady comes and steps on it. My friend is yanking on the cable trying to pull it out from under this lady’s feet and she won’t move. (I’m cracking up as I’m writing this BTW) So my friend pulls harder. She still doesn’t even notice. Finally we had to just drop the spool and leave the isle. After we laughed it all out we went back to the cable and she was still standing in the exact same spot, on top of our cable. My friend finally stops laughing enough to tell the lady “excuse me, we were just trying to get some cable here” and then she says “oh, oh, I’m really sorry. I didn’t even realize”

So, we’ve got our cable but have nothing to cut it with. We find the machine for cutting chain and cable and it says to ask for assistance before operating. So, we go to look for some. There isn’t any but there are like 5 other customers waiting for some employee to come back to the hardware department.

Then, we decide we’ll cut it ourselves. We find an instruction card and there’s like 8 steps for cutting the stupid cable. We can’t understand the instructions so we look at the machine and find that all you have to do is stick it in there and pull the lever. So, we cut our cable. But there’s no way to ring it up. We need a bar code or something. My friend goes and finds the pad of little tags the employees use to write down the linear items (like cable). So, he does it himself. We fill in the price, the feet, and the skew number on the tag. We are all set. Then we see on the bottom of the tag a place for department number, and employee name. So, my friend just writes his own name and scribbles in the department number line. When we go to put the tags bakc the employee finally comes and walks up to US and says “are you the lady requiring assistance in hardware?” We say no because that was the lady standing on our cable, not us. Anyway, going to put the tags back another employee sees them and gives us a look that seemed like he could say like “where did they find those? I’d been looking for them all morning”

Anyway, we go to ring it up and my friend asks the cashier if she knows the load rating on the cable. She says, “your asking me? I don’t even know what this is.” She didn’t question the ticket and we got our cable.

All in all it was a really fun day at the hardware store.

Please share your similar experiences.

pretty exciting…

Sounds like what generally happens when you buy cable / rope / twine / wire at a hardware store. You measure it, cut it, mark it, and buy it.

Also the load the cable can handle is usually marked on the spool somewhere or where the item description is from the shelf you get it at.

take it back two days later and say “I got the wrong thing, I was suppose to get the bigggest belt-buckle I could find”

Hahaha… I love hardware runs. They always turn out interesting, no matter how “normal” we try and make it. For example:
Lowes Hardware store is infamous on our team for hiring people NOT on a basis of hardware knowledge. Anyways, I can’t find whatever I’m looking for at Home Depot, so I go to Lowes (literally right across the street). I go in there looking for… I think it was some welding coil. Anyways, I go in, look for it, can’t find it, and go to ask someone. I find this lady and ask for her for what I need, she proceeds to call EVERY on duty employee to ask if they had it, despite hearing NO from every employee she talked to. So she finally decides to call another local store, even though I keep telling her “oh that’s ok” “no thanks” etc. She says "oh, they’ll reserve one for you at the other store on (SOMETHING) street. So I proceed to thank her and everything, saying I’ll drive over there now.
Needless to say I left the store and went straight back to the build site :smiley:

Or even the time when the other girl I brought with me decided we needed to go through the self-check out dealie… IN SPANISH. Now, I take Japanese, and she thinks she knows Spanish pretty well. She was wrong. And it was a pain in the arse, despite a riot of laughter.

That’s really funny. I hate those self checkout things.

well, this is fun and not-so-fun at the same time…

Our team has bright orange aprons as part of our competition attire. One time, without really thinking about it, I wear my apron when I go to Home Depot on a hardware run (in case you don’t know, they, too, wear bright orange aprons). Well, more than once I got asked where (such and such) is, or where the bathrooms were, etc. I politely had to explain I didn’t work there; and we both got a good chuckle out of it.
UNFORTUNATELY… at the Pacific Northwest Regional this year we sent a few of our girls out to get some supplies, they were wearing their aprons, and apparently the people at Home Depot got REALLY angry at them and tried to take their aprons away!
:mad: :yikes:
Oddly enough… we’re planning to ask our local HD Store for sponsorship next year :wink:

yay! Hardware stores runs.
The night we put the hanging mechanism on our robot a small group worked from 4 pm to like 2:30 am to make it work. The best part was that the hardware store closes at like 8:30. So we work to figure out all the supplies we needed and then go with one of the mentor like 15-20 minutes before the place closes.

We make a mad dash into the place(yeah, we actually run) and get all the nuts and bolts we need to put this thing together. To this particular mentor the hardware store is like a giant toy store. He is not only thinking what he how he could get everything to work, but also what he could do with all the other neat things in there. He has a lot of these “toys” too. Well we get everything we need and head to the counter, now we have less than ten minutes before closing, and he dashes back into the store. We were left at the counter and eventually all of us (including the mentor) was forced out of the store, well we were the only ones there and they had locked all the doors. I not even sure what he was looking for (we had everything). I get the impression he was just playing.

The hardware store near us is very similar to the one saddrag mentioned only they have incrementally huge parts, example: one 4 foot pipe wrench, one 5 foot pipe wrench and one 6 foot pipe wrench.

The employees all know us by name. We make hardware runs almost daily. The way this store works is if you want say four 1/4-20 nuts all you do is walk to the fastener area, select weather you want galvinized, coated, what grade, nylock etc. Once you have found the parts you need find the price and REMEMBER it.

Go to the checkout. The cashier asks how many at what price and you tell her what the price is. That’s how everything in this store is.

Oh by the way, this store is General Hardware in Atlanta GA. They have everything, I mean everything from aluminum blocks (for our drivetrain componants), christmas lights, leadscrews, and a bunch more stuff.

You havn’t lived until you’ve visited a REAL hardware store. We have a Lowes and a Home Depot CLOSER to our school then General but we still go to General.

We dream of one day buying the entire fasterers department for our shop. We woud never be without the right nut or bolt, ever.

Good Luck!!!


A few years ago, (the January after 9/11) a bunch of students and a few engineers made the daily run to the hardware store. On the way there, one kid called “gun” (shotgun, so he wouldn’t have to be squished in the back with everyone else) and the other kids were mad about it. On the way out of the hardware store, a different student decided he wanted to ride shotgun. Just as they were finished checking out, Matt yelled, “I GOT GUN!!” Everyone in the checkout area stopped what they were doing and stared. And stared. And then they stared.

The team members took that as their clue to run out of there as fast as they could!!! :yikes: It has now been decided that one cannot call “gun” until everyone is out of the building!!!

Let me get this straight: your team wears bright orange aprons but isn’t sponsored by Home Depot? That seems a bit strange.

Sounds like a situation I had the other week. I was wearing a blue ThunderChickens polo shirt (team couldn’t find lime green polo’s) at work, and decided to go to Best Buy on my lunch break. Apperently, this was a big mistake, as everyone thought I actually was an employee. Other customers got angry when they found out my “evil” plot to confuse them. @_@

On the other hand, I’m thinking that that situation could lead to some very interesting shenanigans… (cheeky and funny shenanigans only, of course. No cruel and tragic evil shenanigans)