Yesterday I found myself in Bunnings because I wanted a nice trellis to grow my beans up. I didn't need it: I surely could have worked out a cheaper, simpler option, but I wanted obelisk shaped trellises to look pretty. Bunnings was on my way to where I was going, so it was a good place to shop. I haven't been to Bunnings for a long time, definitely not since I have taken on minimalism, and probably not in almost a year. I have been doing so well avoiding temptation buying stuff and yet in Bunnings I felt compelled to buy. I didn't buy anything I didn't need - I left with only the trellises, and a hose nozzle that I remembered my husband had asked me to get - but it was hard work to do so.
For those outside of Australia and New Zealand, Bunnings Warehouse is a hardware store. A massive hardware store, with a tagline of 'Lowest prices are just the beginning'. My local Bunnings is directly under the flight path, about 2km from the runway. When you see the planes go overhead, they look as though they could probably fit inside the massive shed. Inside are rows and rows of timber and nails and tools and fertilisers and taps and light fittings and barbeques and outdoor furniture and mosquito repelling candles, and outside are rows and rows of playground equipment and plants and pots and bricks. They advertise as having over 45000 products, and have an awful lot of those on display. There are plenty of staff running around in red shirts, and if you are lucky enough you might be able to get the attention of one of them, who may or may not belong in the department you need help in.
Most things in Bunnings are cheap, or at least appear so. Because they are so big they can buy in big quantities and get a better deal. Bunnings advertise that they will beat any price by 10%, which makes them appear a whole lot cheaper than what they are, but it is a little sneaky. There is a noticeboard in the doorway which shows pages from other store's catalogues, with items highlighted and the Bunnings price shown as comparison. Yesterday I noticed a packet of batteries for $3 in the Kmart catalogue with the Bunnings price: $2.97. But, the vast majority of products are Bunnings' own lines. They don't say 'Bunnings' on them anywhere, but neither will you find them in any other stores. These products are comparatively priced to something you might find in another hardware store, or another department store such as Kmart (who are, incidentally, owned by the some company). So even though they say they will beat any price by 10%, they know full well that the customer aren't going to find a lot of their products elsewhere, anyway. The quality of their own lines of products are ordinary at best.
The truth is that there is so much more in the store than we need. And by 'we' I mean 'most people who live in Townsville'. Yesterday I saw braziers and brussels sprouts seeds: it is not cold enough here for either! (Okay, I'll be honest tonight it is cold enough for a brazier, but it is one of about ten nights of the year.) Bunnings plays on our desire to have the beautiful gardens we see on Better Homes and Gardens, to renovate our kitchen like on Domestic Blitz, and be our own home handymen like real Aussie blokes. Bunnings run DIY workshops every weekend then direct you to where to buy all the equipment. Everything to make your 'castle' more beautiful is there, out on display, tempting you to take it home.
It's not just the things to make our lives more beautiful that are out on display, it's all the practical stuff as well. Down the main aisles are bins of goods like buckets, extension leads, WD40, lightbulbs, spray bottles. Oh, that is a good price, and I could always do with another - , I'll get one. But isn't that how most department stores make their money, lots of people buying lots of little things they don't really need? The reality is I just don't NEED all the things that they are throwing in my face. Those extra torches, extra fertiliser, the metal butterfly for my my garden, and the pack of five rolls of masking tape, all just end up in my cupboard doing nothing.
Yesterday was my final trip to Bunnings. It doesn't matter if they are actually cheaper. There are other hardware stores on the odd occasion that I actually need one. Like the True Value up the road from where my husband works. I've been in there once before, and the man in the store was incredibly helpful. Thinking about it, I'm not sure why I haven't been back. The lure of lower prices I guess. There is a local nursery a bit our of my way, but it's not like I need to go there every week.
You're right Bunnings. Lowest prices ARE just the beginning: the beginning of filling my home with needless clutter.