5 Secrets Ace Hardware Doesn't Want You to Know

Even if you can install, repair, and rewire on your own, you may not be aware of this intel.

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If you're the kind of person who knows how to pull off a quick plumbing repair, upgrade light fixtures, or generally keep your home in good working order, there's a good chance you rely on Ace Hardware as a resource. The popular chain makes it easy to get in and find the part, tool, or appliance you're looking for without the overwhelming experience that comes with shopping at other big-box DIY home improvement stores. But even those who are handy may not know everything about their favorite retailer. Read on for secrets that Ace Hardware doesn't want you to know.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Secrets Home Depot Doesn't Want You to Know.

No two stores are exactly the same.

hardware store inventory
monticello / Shutterstock

No matter where you live, there's likely an Ace Hardware location near you. The nearly century-old company has more than 5,200 stores across more than 70 countries worldwide, making it one of the most recognizable home improvement and DIY retailers. But even though the chain has a reputation for reliability, there's a good chance your experience will differ at least a little if you visit different locations.

"Ace Hardware stores are all independently owned. On top of that, they're meant to be owned by local entrepreneurs, which means that each one could have different products," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, tells Best Life. "Stock will often vary by neighborhood because it's based on the needs of the area they're located."

"While this may mean you have trouble finding some items, having a store owner who's a local can also come with a lot of benefits," she explains. "For example, if you need a recommendation for a particular service like an electrician, they may very well be able to help you out."

They're not always the best deal around.

Young woman uses her smart phone to explain her diy project to a hardware store employee

Whether it's a major home overhaul or a simple repair, part of taking on any DIY project the right way involves shopping around for the best price. But if you're hoping to get the best deal from your local Ace Hardware every time you need a part or a tool, you might be out of luck.

"It's going to depend on the area you're shopping in as well as what you're looking for, but certain bigger items and tool rentals may not be the best value going through Ace Hardware," says Ramhold. "It's still worth checking out—especially if there's a chance the owner will work with you—but be prepared to head to a place like Lowe's if the price isn't right."

But she clarifies that even if they're not the consistently best bargain, you can still walk out with an advantage if you just chat with the staff or store owner. "If they're preparing to retire an older tool, you may be able to buy it for a deeply discounted price," she says. "Additionally, their tool rentals may be less frequent than bigger stores like Home Depot, so the tools may actually be in better condition, which is important to consider when you're looking."

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Lowe's Employees.

You can sometimes talk your way into a better price.

ace hardware store exterior
Shutterstock/Sundry Photography

Even though Ace Hardware may provide more personalized customer service, there are undoubtedly a few benefits to shopping at larger stores like Home Depot or Lowe's—especially if you're on a tight budget. But just because the smaller stores don't post the lowest prices doesn't mean that's what you'll necessarily have to pay full price in the end.

"Some owners may be willing to haggle," Ramhold tells Best Life. "Because stores are independently-owned, you may actually be able to strike a deal if something is just out of your price range. Talk to the owner, be polite and honest about why you're asking, and they may be willing to work with you to help you get what you need."

You can save some money if you know where to look.

man standing outside and bending over to check for letters in his mailbox

Savvy consumers know that shopping at the right time of year or using the right tools can help you save plenty of money on big purchases. These tactics can be especially helpful when it comes to home improvement by expanding the power of your budget and helping ensure you get what you actually want out of the process. But while some emergency repairs can't wait for an annual sale or discount, there is one way you can save money at Ace Hardware when it will likely come in very handy.

"Look for specials in the mailbox. If you're in the process of moving, packets of coupons and offers are often delivered to either your old address or your new one with a variety of savings. One of those will likely be an Ace Hardware coupon as long as there's a store nearby, so be sure to check these welcome packets when you arrive at your new home—especially if you need some home improvement items," says Ramhold.

The shopping expert adds, "It could be something as complicated as a part for your new toilet, or maybe you just need hardware to hang decorations in your new home, but either way, Ace Hardware should be able to help you out with those little spot jobs that seem to come out of nowhere during the moving process."

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You might be able to get more than tools and parts at your local store.

Photo of father and son in hardware store

While some shoppers may be unaware that Ace Hardware locations often have different offerings from store to store, this doesn't always result in being unable to find what you're looking for. In some cases, there can also be a benefit to each store being unique—and sometimes even the playing field against competitors.

"Stores may offer services just like big-box stores," says Ramhold. "For example, some Ace Hardware locations may provide things like key duplications and window screen replacements, among others. More options mean being able to shop around to find the best price for your budget."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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