Learn The Way To Select The Appropriate Bed Mattress

Sep 11

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If perhaps you would like to sleep on a great memory foam mattress, be sure you adhere to the earlier mentioned tips to discover the best for you. Taking your time to be able to go through helpful information for the best mattresses and to check product reviews may assist you to ensure you select one that will be amazingly comfortable and also that’s most likely to help you slumber much better tonight. Start right now so that you can discover the ideal mattress quickly.

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10 things home-improvement stores won’t tell you

Feb 12

By

Paulo Buchinho

1. We may be bigger, but we’re not necessarily better

Summer is when many Americans spend plenty of time working on home improvement projects. That inevitably means many Americans will also be spending plenty of time–and plenty of dollars-at the big-box stores that have come to dominate the home-improvement industry-particularly, Home Depot and Lowe’s which are responsible for around 80% of the industry’s $153.8 billion in annual revenue, according to market researcher IBISWorld.

And with the economy (and perhaps more pertinently, the housing market) showing signs of improvement in recent years, both companies have become investors’ favorites. Home Depot stock is up roughly 180% since the end of 2009 and Lowe’s is up about 100%; by contrast, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up about 60% during that same period.

Getty Images

Saw blades at a Lowe’s in Chicago.

But shoppers haven’t shown quite as much enthusiasm as investors. In a J.D. Power survey of six major home improvement and hardware retailers, Lowe’s ranked third and Home Depot fourth; Ace Hardware, a network of mostly independently owned, neighborhood-oriented stores, took the top spot, which arguably suggests that consumers prefer that model over the big box one. And on consumer-oriented sites such as Consumerist.com, stories abound of experiences gone awry at Home Depot and Lowe’s, particularly involving installation issues.

Perhaps most telling of all: While many retail experts thought the big box home improvement chains might spell the demise of independent hardware stores, it appears the mom-and-pops are holding their own against the giants. IBISWorld predicts hardware stores will see slightly better annual growth (2%) in the years ahead than the home improvement giants (1.7%). While the big-box chains can often offer an extensive selection of items and low pricing, they can’t always compete in terms of personal service or the ability for shoppers to get in and out of the stores quickly and easily. Hardware stores tend ‘to be more welcoming to customers,’ says IBISWorld analyst Jocelyn Phillips.

For their part, Home Depot and Lowe’s emphasize the many positives they bring to the shopping experience. A Lowe’s spokeswoman touts the fact that ‘Lowe’s offers more in-stock appliances than any other retailer and offers easy installation services.’ A Home Depot spokesman points to the fact that the chain is ‘continually working to improve’ customer service ‘regardless of any rankings’ and that its efforts include making sure ‘store associates are able to spend the majority of their time assisting customers rather than (on) operational tasks such as stocking shelves.’

See also: 10 things home inspectors won’t tell you.

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Are there any 24 hour home improvement stores left? – chat, shopping

Feb 08

Hmm… you’re wanting to take your vote back?

Well, that’s a bit tricky. See, we do a lot of stuff with your vote, using it to work out the popularity of what you voted for, compare that to all the other things voted on, tally up our leaderboard, work out your reputation. Someday we’ll do a little cartoon showing just how hard your vote is working.

Anyway, taking votes back messes all that up, so we give you five minutes, in case you just mis-clicked. After that we’ve got to say no take-backs. Luckily, votes are free, so feel free to throw them around left and right wherever you see fit.

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Dallas gets next branch of TreeHouse, the eco-friendly home improvement store

Feb 06

From the city that gave us Whole Foods Market and took organic groceries mainstream, another retailer is hoping to change the way we live. This time its focus is the roof over our heads.

Austin-based TreeHouse, a home improvement retailer focused on eco-friendly construction materials, has selected Dallas as its first stop outside its hip hometown. Tuesday, it will announce plans to open a store in early 2017 in a new shopping center in North Dallas.

TreeHouse CEO and co-founder Jason Ballard believes he can sell the world on eco-friendly homes in the same way that Tesla is broadening the customer base for electric cars.

‘We resist being a niche company,’ Ballard said. ‘We’re not just for customers with dreadlocks and card-carrying members of environmental groups. We’re going to prove with the Dallas store that we’re not a store for special people, we’re a store for everyone.’

The timing is right, with cultural trends leading people to craft beers and quality coffee, he said. ‘It’s a refinement of the American palate.’

Dallas architect Russell Buchanan said client awareness of eco-friendly homebuilding materials has grown rapidly in recent years.

‘It used to be that clients didn’t even talk about it. Now it’s the first thing they ask, particularly energy-efficiency,’ Buchanan said.

The 25,000-square-foot Dallas store will have more than 5,000 to 10,000 square feet of outdoor space to display native landscaping, rainwater collection and other projects the store will sell. The store features home decor products, including paint and flooring, and performance products, including roofing, insulation, windows and LED lighting.

TreeHouse will anchor a shopping center in the works on the northeast corner of North Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane.

Dallas-based Cypress Equities is redeveloping the 16-acre Corner Shopping Center. Cypress purchased the property located across from a DART rail station about a year ago and is renaming it the Hill Shopping Center.

‘We want to grow first in Texas,’ said Ballard, 33, whose rural upbringing where Texas’ Piney Woods dips toward the Gulf Coast had everything to do with his professional path.

That tension between loving the outdoors and earning a living in the oil refineries made a huge impression on him as a boy, he said. ‘I remember going around the deer camp with my grandfather charging everything up with a solar panel, and I thought, ‘Why can’t everything be like that?”

After leaving Texas A&M in 2006 as a conservation biologist, he moved to Colorado and thought about becoming an Episcopal priest. ‘I learned about the sustainable building movement and discovered how many toxins are in our homes.’

Ballard co-founded TreeHouse with his wife, Jenny, and best friend from college, Evan Loomis, who had the finance expertise they needed to get their idea off the ground. TreeHouse opened in October 2011 in Austin and now is ready to expand with multiple stores and an e-commerce business. TreeHouse originally raised $7 million and last year received an additional $16 million for its expansion.

Its lead investors are from Dallas and have some big retail names behind them, including a family that was among the original investors in Home Depot.

Container Store co-founder Garrett Boone was an early investor, and others include Gary Kusin, former CEO of FedEx Office; Bill Robinson, executive vice president of Southlake-based Sabre; and Justin Cox, whose father, Berry Cox, was an original and longtime board member of Home Depot.

TreeHouse is the first retailer that Tesla has authorized to sell the Powerwall, its battery for the house. TreeHouse is also one of the top-selling retailers of Nest smart-home products, Ballard said.

Single-store sales have increased 35 percent every year, he said, without disclosing annual sales. Inc. Magazine said last fall that the store was on track to do $10 million in 2015.

While many make the analogy with Whole Foods, Ballard gets his inspiration from Tesla, which he said took ‘electric cars from being slow, small and ugly to being fast, comfortable and sexy.’

‘We have to succeed in helping to make homes safe but still beautiful and comfortable,’ he said. ‘That’s the reason we have a house in the first place.’

Dallas architect Buchanan said many people are also motivated by energy savings:A 4,000-square-foot home that he designed was recently completed in Dallas, and the monthly electric and gas bills combined are under $200.The house next door is smaller and has a monthly bill of more than $1,000, he said.

Residential solar panels have fallen by half or more in price since 2007, making them affordable for regular homeowners, said Barbara Kessler, editor of EcoBayou.com. ‘And rain catchment has become more popular with gardeners for outside irrigation especially since the drought.’

Also, much has changed from a health standpoint, Buchanan said. Manufacturers are selling low VOC – for volatile organic compounds – paint and carpet, which emit fewer gases that can hurt people with asthma and allergies, he said. ‘It’s time for more ideas to be mainstreamed.’

Kessler believes the timing is right for a store to present the growing number of products and projects available.

‘People are better informed about the unhealthy effects of toxic building materials and also want to reduce their dependence on finite fossil fuels,’ Kessler said.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

BY THE NUMBERS

From 2015 to 2018, annual green building construction spending in the U.S. is projected to increase 15 percent a year, reaching $224.4 billion in 2018.

In Texas for the same period:

*Green construction is expected to have a direct impact of more than $32 billion on the state’s economy, almost double the total of the previous four years.

*Green buildings will directly impact 426,000 jobs in Texas and contribute more than $27 billion in income to the state’s workers.

SOURCE: The U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Building Economic Impact Study, prepared by Booz Allen Hamilton

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The Bigger Box Store: Home Improvement Stores That Are Double the Size of Home Depot

Feb 04

Angela Wyant / Getty Images

The average grocery store in the U.S. measures under 50,000 square feet. Home Depots average about 100,000 square feet, and the typical Costco or Walmart Supercenter-generally considered the biggest of all big box retailers-runs 100,000 to 150,000 square feet. But a new breed of home improvement store in the Midwest blows them all away.
Menards, a Wisconsin-based home improvement chain founded in 1958, has been introducing a new store model throughout the Midwest that measures well over 200,000 square feet. In 2011, the company opened a revamped, dramatically expanded two-floor, 235,000-square-foot store in Eden Prairie, Minn., that ‘makes a Costco or Wal-Mart Supercenter look modest by comparison,’ according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. In addition to a huge selection of home improvement DIY supplies, the store also stocks groceries, stuffed animals, clothing, jewelry, and drugstore staples.

Another mega-Menards opened in Golden Valley, Minn., last year with, for instance, 41 different full kitchens on display for customers. With 5-pound vats of Cheetos and 17 shades of black spray paint among the options in aisles, the 250,000-square-foot store is ‘everything both mesmerizing and horrifying about our consumer culture,’ in the words of an MSP Magazine editor who toured the place after it opened.

( MORE: Are We Witnessing the Death of the Big Box Store?)

Two more 200,000-plus-square-foot Menards will be opening this spring in the St. Louis area, each complete with ‘a full-service lumberyard and warehouse that shoppers can drive into,’ reports the Post-Dispatch.

While it wasn’t particularly surprising when Menards launched its first supersized store in the pre-recession, bigger-is-always-better mid-00s, it’s definitely against trend to be opening new megastores-and larger ones at that-lately. For years, observers have been postulating that the big-box store model is dying, thanks to factors including the struggling economy, the growth of online shopping, and rising real estate costs. Instead of pushing for bigger and bigger locations, chains such as Best Buy, Cabela’s, Office Depot, and Walmart have been more likely to be introducing smaller ‘express’ stores with less merchandise-and less costly overhead.

What makes Menards think it should continue going big while others shrink? The company is privately owned, and its executives rarely talk to the media. Menards spokesman Jeff Abbott seems to only be willing to answer reporter questions via e-mail, and when he does, he seems to utilize a ‘cut and paste’ approach to stay on message. Here’s a section from one of his e-mails sent to the Star-Tribune in early 2012:

‘The company’s success can be seen in … the way guests are always treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.’

And here’s part of Abbott’s e-mail statement to the Post-Dispatch, published in early March 2013:

‘What also separates Menards from the competition is our friendly guest service and the way guests are treated like family in a hometown hardware store atmosphere.’

( MORE: The Big Box Electronics Retailer That’s Actually (No Joke) Growing)

Menards leans heavily on its ‘Midwestern values’ image, and indeed, the company is almost entirely focused in the region. Click on its store locator, and you’ll see that its 274 locations are clustered densely in the northern center of the continental U.S., centered roughly around Chicago-with zero stores along the heavily populated coasts.

While the brand is growing, in terms of store size and number of stores alike, it’s got a long way to catch up with Home Depot (2,200 locations) and Lowe’s (1,750 stores). One reason that Menards may find it difficult to expand to the South and the coasts is that the two larger home-improvement chains are already so well established there. The cost and availability of land in coastal states also makes it more difficult for Menards’ megastore model to be feasible.

Given the economy and sustained high unemployment, Menards has even found it necessary to scale back its ambitious expansion plans. The chain originally planned on opening six new locations in the St. Louis area, but so far has only proceeded with two stores. ‘We have postponed plans to build additional stores due to concerns that economic conditions will worsen,’ Abbott, the Menards spokesman wrote via e-mail. ‘But if the economy improves, we hope to be able to reconsider.’

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IBM wants to cool data centers with their own waste heat

Jan 21

There’s no better way for families to find relief from the sweltering heat than to head inside an air-conditioned building.

But, eventually, you have to go home, and the last thing you want is your air conditioner to fail you in the middle of a heat wave.

Home improvement stores around the Triangle report seeing a spike in air conditioner sales during the most recent heat wave.

Andrea Blanford reports from Raleigh.

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Jan 15

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