After spending a big chunk of Saturday painting trim and doors in our bedroom, Katie and I decided we needed new doorknobs for all the rooms in our house. So we joined up with my brother and his fiancee and hit a couple home improvement stores in the area. Since we all know almost exactly what we can find on a daily basis at Home Depot, Lowe's, and Menard's, we opted for one we'd never been to before... HOBO (Home Owner's Bargain Outlet).
None of us had ever been to this place before as it's a good 45 min to an hour drive from our place, but we'd heard plenty about it from people we knew. Everyone raved about the selection and the prices and all that good crap. So we decided to give it a go.
Well, the most accurate word in my description of the place would be "crap." First, we discovered that their return policy would only give you an exact exchange or in-store credit. Even within the 30 day return window and with a receipt. Then we discovered that their selection of basics was only equivalent in terms of quantity with other normal home repair places. Not a huge selection, not a spectacular variety as we'd been promised.
And then the prices... oh the prices. They were the same. I did not notice a difference at all, in all honesty. The kitchen and bath faucets were nearly the same price as places like Home Depot. In the few instances that there was actually a meager price difference (offset, I'm sure, by the amount of money we spent in gas to get there), it was only because they carried only off brands. Not that I'm adverse to trying off brands in some areas, but only if the return policy would guarantee my happiness. And it did not.
We left. This place sucked. Instead of leaving to go home completely dejected, Brian and Jen promised us the "shopping experience of our lives" and took us to IKEA. Jen is an avowed IKEA whore dating to her days growing up in southern California. She sucked Brian into the Cult of IKEA once she moved out here. Katie and I, despite always driving by one in Schaumburg when we'd go into the city or go to Woodfield Mall to shop, had never been to one before. It was time. So we hit the one in Bolingbrook.
Holy Dear Sweet Mother of Jeebus.
The building, alone, frightened me. By itself, it's larger than most strip malls. And two levels, to boot. Then there was the fear factor instilled in us by the sight of Jenny jumping up and down in her seat as we pulled near.
When we entered, Brian and Jen explained to us that the bottom floor is where they carry all the goods separated by department. Upstairs was where they had their showcases set up displaying practical uses for their products. These showcases were set up as entire rooms with nearly every single piece of furniture, decorating matter, and organizational material being an IKEA product. Ed Norton's character in Fight Club was right, you really could build an entire existence just using an IKEA catalog.
Of course, before we could really do any shopping, Brian announced that he needed to buy himself a meal of meatballs from the kitchen. THE KITCHEN! It's a home improvement store with a full-fledged eatery! I'm assuming this is because they expect you to get lost and will need to have some sustenance in you while you await the arrival of the blue-and-yellow-clad search and rescue team. Brian and Jen bought a 20-piece Swedish meatball meal with sides of rice and mac and cheese. Katie and I had a side of mac and cheese and a bowl of soup. Now that Brian felt fully energized, it was time to venture forward.
The selection of stuff was incredible. While a lot of it was geared towards short-term usage (I really don't think a big chunk of it could withstand a lot of abuse), they did have some nice home organization and decoration items. And that's a big chunk of what we bought... some newspaper files and a desk organizer unit along with one framed print of San Francisco and three oversized poster frames so we could finally hang up the big travel posters we had purchased from allposters.com.
As cool as the place was -- and judging by the more than two hours we spent there, it was certainly cool -- we had trouble making the most of our visit because we were so overwhelmed by how much stuff was there.
But we'd certainly make a return visit.
If for no other reason than because we never did buy our damn doorknobs.