Where we spend our money or why I will never buy anything from Menards

I make choices every day in the ways in which I choose to spend our money. We all do. I also frequently make compromises when I make those choices. I think most of us do. For example, I was at Ace on Saturday, looking at shower heads for our new (!!!!) shower. I picked up the one I wanted, which is the same one we had installed in our upstairs shower, and looked at where it had been made. China. I picked up another brand and guess what? China. And the third one? China. I had exhausted all of the brands and left the store after purchasing the one I had initially wanted. I didn’t feel great about it, but I left the store unconvinced that I could find a shower head that was made stateside. I was bummed.

On the other hand, Aaron & Bear & I were recently at Costco and trying to find puppy treats that weren’t made in China. This search was prompted by some news about unsafe Chinese dog treats, as well as Gracie getting sick not too long after ingesting some previously purchased Costco treats made across the Pacific (whether it was related to the origin of the treats is unknown). After seeing “Made in China” a couple of times, we found some made in the old U.S. of A. and smiled broadly. Hooray! It was a small victory, of course, but we relished it. And so did puppy.

On yet another hand, I buy a million things all the time without even looking at where they are made. I’m not proud of this, but I admit it. I try hard to make more informed choices. I try to buy local, but I admit to frequent trips to Target and tons of internet shopping. I love to patronize local eateries, but I also adore a McDonald’s diet Coke more often than not.

In any event, one place that I hope that I can always say – unless their practices change drastically – I have never purchased anything from is Wisconsin’s own, Menards. It makes me sad that it’s a Wisconsin-owned company that tops my list for ‘most abhorrent business,’ but so be it. I’m sure there are other companies that are as bad as Menards (which makes me sad to say), but because it’s a *local* company, I pay closer attention to its wrongdoings.

For me, it all started when I started seeing Ben. I wasn’t really aware of Menards before becoming close to Ben. I mean, I knew it existed, but I never thought much about it. Ben used to say we could never spend our money there — something to do with dumping in the Eau Claire River. That was pretty much good enough for me. I was, after all, only 22 years old. That prohibition stayed with me a long time, though. Probably, at least in part, because it was never a great sacrifice to boycott Menards.

Time marched on, as it does, and then came this. Of course the lawsuit and the illegal, immoral and abhorrent behavior leading up to this came well before the supreme court’s decision, but the decision highlighted for the country the indefensible behavior of the Menard company.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to our contractor about what we wanted done in the basement to make it something we can live with for the next few years. He had previously spoken the taboo word ‘Menards’ to me, but I had been able to ignore it. This time, after  telling me the best selection for a certain item was at Menards, I told him, somewhat sheepishly, that I could not shop at Menards. He said, “Yeah, well, John Menard is a pri–” and cut himself off. I stepped in. “He’s an ass%^&$#,” I said. The contractor then rattled off to me how much Menard is delinquent in his state taxes. He made it more than clear that he is not a fan.

For whatever reason, I was thinking about all of this today. And so I did a little Google search while Bear was napping and I came across this. In case I wasn’t clear, I’ll never shop at Menards. I guess I hope you won’t, either.

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7 Responses to “Where we spend our money or why I will never buy anything from Menards”


  1. 1 Jane Roe July 23, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I must admit that in the past I have shopped at Menards. In fact we used to joke that we were having family bonding when Mike, Tim, Stacy, and I would walk around looking at stuff and planning building projects. But when I learned that the Menards were right up there with the Koch’s in terms of politics, I stopped. Well almost stopped. I am addicted to their pretzels, but I can give them up, I can.

    But I do have concerns when I make decisions like no longer shopping at Menards or Walmart and that is what happens to the little folks who derive their meager existence from their jobs there? Those folks (many of whom are my former Practical English students) simply don’t have the intellectual capabilities to work at better jobs. They did fine when they were able to work the assembly line, but these days even the assembly line has gone too high tech and they can’t make the grade. One of the greatest jokes of No Child Left Behind was that somehow, someway we could make everyone intellectually average or above average. That simply isn’t the case. Can and should education improve, of course, but the old you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear is true. I always remember Atticus Finch’s speech that all men are not created equal except, of course, in a court of law. Well the folks working at the Walmarts and Menards (not the management but the cashiers and stockers etc.) are often not going to be able to do much better, more sophisticated jobs. And so there is my concern. By not shopping at these places (if we all did it) what would happen to all those little people?

  2. 2 kateandgracie July 23, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Well, I totally agree with you that some folks are always going to have more mundane work, but I don’t think my boycott — even if it goes as intended — results in anyone out of work. I am still spending money at places that employ lots of people in low-level work – like Home Depot and Costco. My hope is that by not shopping at Menards and spending that money at Home Depot or Ace instead, Menards and the like will be forced into better business practices. I know Home Depot is far from perfect, but I don’t think it’s Menards and I was happy to see that it recently told some anti-gay group to go to hell when that group threatened a boycott. I willingly shop at Costco because, while it’s also not perfect, it pays its employees a living wage and isn’t involved in the race-to-the-bottom nonsense that, say, Wal-mart is. Now I realize not all shoppers have the choices I have but, when they do, I hope they make informed choices.

    I’m not trying to put anyone out of business, but to improve business practices of those already there. I know this probably all sounds very naive, but I think it can be done. If the Menards family doesn’t want to do the right thing for moral and ethical reasons, perhaps they will do it because the market compels it.

  3. 3 Terry July 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Although I have long detested Menards, these 2 links you provide help strengthen my resolve to not shop there. And what about Bill Leuders’ article? Geez…I guess a paper bag full of cheap lightbulbs is ok because John Menards’ empty soul is a just penalty? I did not see that last paragraph coming!

  4. 4 kateandgracie July 23, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Yeah, I think Leuders’ conclusion is bollox. I mean, first, I totally disagree that not shopping at a store has no impact. In fact, I think that’s a ridiculous position to take. And, second, I don’t think Home Depot is nearly as deplorable as Menards. I mean, Leuders, give me an example of Home Depot’s nastiness that compares to all of what you just cited and then we can talk. I feel like it’s just him excusing himself from shopping at Menards. And if that’s the case, just admit it.

  5. 5 Jane Roe July 23, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Oh, I totally agree that there are degrees of nastiness, and I do choose Home Depot over Menards, but in Rhinelander we have Home Depot, Menards, and Walmart as a source of jobs for my former students. The links you provided were absolute eye openers for me and I do not intend to go to Menards, but I can’t help worrying about my former students on so many levels including that they work for Menards.

  6. 6 kateandgracie July 24, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Yeah, it’s really sad. I hope your former students haven’t had any of the bad experiences noted in the articles.

  7. 7 Heather Certain July 31, 2012 at 11:07 pm

    I had no idea! Luckily we pretty much never do home improvement projects, but we did get our toilet and sink there. Damn.


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