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Jun 2, 2023

Home Depot: We’re Not Doing It Ourselves Enough

A not-beloved $291 billion company may have lost $10—or more!

By Ed Goldman

I was chastened to read that Home Depot’s revenues have suffered because we simply aren’t doing enough home improvements and when we do, without the same fervor we brought to the table-saw throughout the pandemic.

During that two-year siege, we apparently rebelled at our home incarceration by building backyard decks we didn’t need, expanding already-adequate laundry rooms, turning walk-in closets into workplace headquarters and converting lily ponds into infinity pools.

Edgy Cartoon

Some assembly required

We re-purposed our rooftops as outdoor kitchens, remodeled our utility sheds as Air Bnbs and spruced up our backyards to create miniature Huntington Gardens (the ropes, stanchions and docents might have been excessive).

Benefiting from all of this was Home Depot, the DIY (do-it-yourself) company that donated many, many millions of dollars to elect Donald Trump in 2016, evidently feeling Trump couldn’t DIH.

Now, alas, we’re still at Home but the train has left the Depot—which is to say, we’re no longer prisoners. We are, in fact, defiant, demanding that our employers see the value of our contributions even if they can’t see us

But why are we taking all of this out on poor little Home Depot, a company with a net worth of $291.69 billion (as of this past May)? Why have we made its market cap decrease by almost 5 percent in one year? Are we rebels—or tyrants? Anti-capitalists or social collectivists? And while we’re asking: What’s a market cap, is it one-size-fits-all and can I get one in a summer pastel to offset my tan?

I asked this column’s resident contractor, C.U. Winniver (the initials are for Carl Ulysses) to weigh in on the DIY dilemma. C.U. has taken on projects large and small for me over the years—everything from adding a helipad to add to my back porch (which was denied in the sketch phase by the city’s planning department) to removing exceedingly starchy ramen from my garbage disposal. 

“What you basically have, Mister G,” he said, “is the law of supply-but-no-demand in play. Basically.” Carl uses words like “basically,” “heretofore” and “unfortunately” as part of a self-created patois, which allows him, as he told me, to “never commit to anything, an unwritten rule of contractors.”

“Define ‘anything,'” I said, summoning up my inner Bill Clinton, when his impeachment-defense lawyer demanded the prosecutor parse the word “it.” I’m seriously considering law as a second career once I figure out what my first one has been. I admit to being a problem child. 

For a licensed crook, C.U. Winniver was admirably forthright. “‘Anything’ defines what time I’ll show up,” he said. “It defines what materials I’ll say you need as opposed to what materials I’ll use. What everything will cost. When the project will be done. And who’ll be at fault if it isn’t—which, spoiler alert, won’t be me. It’ll be your wife for changing her mind so much. Stuff like that.”

I was going to point out that I didn’t have a wife whom neither C.U. nor I could blame for anything. But I silently tucked away that revelation for forthcoming debates about his invoices. When he blames my wife I’ll shout, “Aha! Gotcha! I’m not married!” Or if by that time I am, I’ll turn the tables and blame his wife for changing her mind so much. (What’s that old song? 🎼🎵🎶 “It’s a louse/ Who blames his spouse/About the house…”

Hmm. Maybe Home Depot just needs a new jingle to restore its fortunes. I’d make mine available but imagine the store would rather Do It Itself.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).