CWW: Home Surplus Center

If you’re the sort of person who shops at Home Depot or Lowes, I’m sure you’re aware how expensive home renovation/repair supplies can be.  What’s a Cheap Yank to do?

Every so often you can find what you need by searching on Craigslist , but unless you’re patient & persistent, you’re going to need to go shop for your supplies.

If you’re about to start a project, stop by Home Surplus Center at 265 Grafton Street in Worcester.  It’s run by Howlett Lumber of Charlton, but unlike the parent store, Home Surplus Center isn’t a brightly lit hardware/lumber/home improvement store.  Home Surplus Center is an old warehouse that gets all the odd lots, discontinued items & overstock that they don’t want or need at the Charlton store.  The prices are quite often better than at Home Depot & Lowes, but if you have a major project planned, it might be best to shop both of those stores before visiting Home Surplus Center, so that you know what’s a good price.

Let’s take a look at some of the sorts of things you’ll find at Home Surplus Center.  When you first enter, it’ll probably be by the side door nearest the parking.  At the top of the stairs you’ll find boxes of tile & laminate flooring:

These tend to be smaller lots — useful for a small room, or maybe you’re just trying to match some tile/laminate flooring already in your home.  You’ll also occasionally find other things in this section; the day these pictures were taken, they had a sale on rock salt:

It’s also not uncommon to find windows or doors in this section, though there are many more further inside the warehouse.

From that section, if you enter the warehouse in the colder weather, you’ll do so via a small door to the left of a large garage-style door.  In warmer weather the large door will be up and you can just walk through into the next section of the warehouse.

As you enter, glance to the left and check out all the kitchen & bathroom cabinets for sale, all sizes & styles (come armed with the dimensions you need for your project!)

Some are pre-assembled & ready for countertop or vanity top, while others are boxed kits that will need assembly.

Home Surplus Center has a huge selection of doors of all sorts of sizes/styles, most located along the right wall as you enter the second section of the warehouse:

In this section there are also lots of random stuff like pavers:


pipe insulation:

sinks & vanity tops:

hardwood flooring:

and windows/skylights/screens:

If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, there’s still one more section to explore at the very rear of the warehouse.  There you might find lumber of various dimensions, both kiln-dried & pressure-treated:

Need to repoint a chimney?  They might have some bricks for you:

How are the prices?

In general, the prices at Home Surplus Center are usually lower than the big box home improvement stores.  But a knowledge of the prices for the things you’re looking for is essential.  Here are some photos of random pricing signs to give you a sample of what things cost:

Not pictured is a small section at the front of the store (facing Grafton Street) where you’ll find the register when you’re ready to make your purchases; in the same room are display set-ups showing some of the cabinets, counters, sinks, etc. that are in the warehouse, but shown assembled as they might appear in your home.  This is helpful for folks who have difficulty visualizing how something might work aesthetically.  There’s also a small selection of hardware & tools in the room, but plan on buying that sort of stuff elsewhere, as the selection is very small and the prices on these are nothing special.

The Home Surplus Center is definitely worth a visit if you’re planning a renovation and looking to save some money.  Inventory changes frequently, so you may need to stop in at regular intervals to see what’s on offer.  And be sure to show up forearmed with the knowledge of what things normally cost at the the big box competition.

When every minute counts

If you live near a hard-to-find hydrant, you might want to clear away the nearby brush (if it’s your property), or perhaps request something more noticeable than a red stick (paint job? signage?).  The extra few minutes it takes the WFD to find your hydrant are minutes longer your house will burn or minutes longer your loved ones may be trapped inside.

This faded/peeling yellow hydrant blends in quite nicely with dead oak leaves & nearby soil.

First Street

Mallard Quackery

Quasi-Kudos to the DPW for replacing the ’60s-era street sign at Mallard Road.  Frequent readers may recall, back in February I mentioned that the DPW, while fixing a nearby hydrant,  might want to consider replacing this sign:

Thanks to a mysteriously bountiful sign replacement budget, they’ve now put up a new sign:

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first-ever yellow sign replaced under the current “Hearts & Serifs” Blitzkrieg of the past dozen years.  As far as I can tell, every other sign replaced has been of much later vintage, and the priority seems to be to replace the most legible ones first.

Why the “quasi-kudos”?  Besides any distaste I may have for serifs on street signs, notice the different shading on the backer beneath “Rd”.  They seem to have repaired this sign with material that doesn’t match the original.  Perhaps this first left the shop as “Mallard Blvd” or “Mallard Ct” and had to be corrected by the poor installers.

Of greater concern is the angle at which the sign is mounted.  It’s nearly illegible from any great distance — here it is as it appears from Upland Street westbound:

And eastbound isn’t much better:

And perhaps I’m nit-picking, but how hard would it have been to reuse the “Not A Thru Street” that was affixed to the original, since we don’t seem to have left the sign shop supplied with a new one?

So while I’m reservedly grateful on behalf of the Mallard Rd. folks that they’ve finally got a new sign after 50 years, I think we could have done a whole lot better by them.

And we still haven’t fixed the little trench left after the hydrant repair:
You can’t tell from the photo, but despite the cold patch, the middle of that rectangle is several inches below the level of the street.  Enough to knock your dentures out if you hit it while going 25 miles per hour in your Buick.