Losing Focus: When Home Improvement Stores Start Selling Groceries

Earlier tonight I read that our local Menards home improvement store will soon be selling groceries. I’m struggling to find the tie-in between frozen pizza and roofing supplies – I just don’t see why they think this will be a good idea.

This type of business strategy (if you can call it one) completely baffles me. Focus is a key to success in business, which is why I’m guessing you’d pass on the chance to visit a hair stylist/tax preparer if you had the opportunity.

As someone once said, if you try to be everything to everyone, you end up being nothing to everyone…

3 replies on “Losing Focus: When Home Improvement Stores Start Selling Groceries”

i work for menards at one of the d.c’s menards is now selling food.we all think it is wierd.but some of us think that menards is trying to make it a one stop shop.meaning get your home goods there and food clothing etc…we have a lot of new things coming.just means a lot more work for me.

Thanks for the comment.

I understand Menards’ temptation to become a “One Stop Shop”. They’re facing plenty of competition from Lowes in Grand Forks and from Home Depot in other markets too. “Differentiating” Menards by selling groceries and other stuff seems like a good way to keep profits up.

The problem is that the “one stop shop” strategy (if you can really call it one) rarely works. It’s actually an admission that management is out of real ideas. In Menards’ case, their brand name becomes completely meaningless once it’s associated not only with lumber and home improvement products, but with groceries, electronics, puppies, and whatever else they think they can sell.

You can’t tell me that Menards will have a better food selection than a Hugos or that it’ll sell unique and specialized items like an Amazing Grains. I’m sure that’s not their intention either. Selling commodity food staples won’t do anything for them in the long run.

The smarter route would be to actually go deeper into the home improvement area instead of trying to go broad. Become the de facto experts on the topic and sell specialized things you can’t get anywhere else in town. If it became the place for professionals to shop, the masses would follow. That would make Menards remarkable.

Maybe a little known fact that should be made public… Menards may treat their employees well but they treat their vendors like second-rate citizens. They are well known for being “nice guys/ladies” when they work in the store but as soon as they get to the corporate level, they get their kicks by calling vendors and yelling at them for made-up issues. Ask any Menards vendor and they’ll tell you the same story. It’s like they are groomed to be that way. I heard one such conversation while shopping last month and wrote a letter to the store manager. I’m not holding my breath for a response.

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