I've essentially given up on Home Depot. The last straw was going in once for furnace filters, 20 x 25, probably the most common size. None in stock. I talked to a manager and asked him how in this modern world with computerized inventory control, could one EVER run out of this size furnace filter. It's not like it is something esoteric. Since I mentioned it being something like a (food) staple, he took that up as an explanation. See, we had a snow storm two days before. I couldn't believe it... like there is a big run on furnace filters in advance of a snow storm, like there is on milk and bread! This was far from the first time I've gone in looking for something completely commonplace, and have them be out of stock.
Now I direct almost all of my hardware needs at a little neighborhood store that occupies the first floor of a series of rowhouses in the city. Amazing that this little store almost always has what I need, while the humongous Home Depot, the size of a football field, often doesn't. The fact that Home Depot carries rice cookers, vacuum cleaners, and coat hangers now probably has something to do with it. They do everything, but nothing well.
On restaurants, I try to go to the small, locally owned ones. There is so much more variety there, and I know the staff isn't reading from some script dreamed up some thousands of miles away, replicated cookie cutter style throughout the nation. One of the more recent chains to come into my area is Carrabba's Italian Grill... is that a southern Italian accent I detect (in their commercials)... Naples, maybe? No, southern as in Houston, Texas!
I guess I'm more than a bit jaded on this topic. About 30 years ago a read an indepth article on the conversion of Hot Shoppes restaurants over to Phineas Prime Rib, and the extreme measures (at least for the time period) Marriot corporate went to in scripting the entire dining experience. It has only gotten worse since then.
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