“I don’t think we are in Bunnings anymore.”
My little girl said to me as we walked in to the newly opened Masters Store in Springfield Lakes, Queensland. And with that simple “Wizard of Oz” statement, my little girl summed it up.
Masters is not Bunnings, and it is apparent from the moment you drive in. When you go into a Bunnings store, you feel like you are walking into a mate’s really big shed. Clutter everywhere, no air conditioning, poor lighting, unhelpful staff. Masters is everything Bunnings is not.
Masters is a collaboration between Lowes of US and Woolworths to bring quality hardware shopping to weary Australian customers, tired of the one stop shop that is Bunnings.
The first thing you notice on entry is the open plan floorspace, bright lighting and genial air conditioning followed by uncluttered extra wide aisles with no obstructive products in the way to distract children. Products tend to be on display at eye level with the stock clearly marked, with pictures on the boxes stored below, so there’s less chance of mistakes.
There is a very wide range of categories including, floor covering, lighting display, kitchens, outdoor furniture, appliances, garden centre and much more.
There is an excellent range of art and craft products, including many brands of paint and adhesives, wood kits, kid’s hands-on craft, and lots of new products from America and Europe. All you need now is your imagination, or you can attend some of the many Adult and Children classes. There is a large trade and DIY section as well.
There are plenty of “How To” guides throughout the store with 32 customer service buttons in case you need assistance. The staff seem genuinely happy to want to help you. We don’t know how long that might last, but while the staff at Bunnings try and avoid your eye, the staff at Masters try and catch your eye to see if you want any help. And that was on a really busy day as well.
The store is very children friendly providing kids trolleys and a few very special 2 seated cars with front baskets (kids will love them). When you need a break you can rest your legs in the in house McDonalds while the kids spend time in the play area. The toilets are very accommodating with baby change area and disability toilets.
When your new shopping experience is over for the day you head for the multi-function check out which easily switches from manual to self service. Masters are very keen to support local sports groups and charities through weekend sausage sizzles.
A very welcome addition to the hardware space in Australia, Masters will have to keep its eye on the ball. While they seem to have lower prices than Bunnings, they will win overall if they can keep up their high level of customer service and efficient store management and professional approach to everything.
We were disappointed in the choice of McDonalds as the in store restaurant – especially the almost tiny play area. The play area at any Bunnings wins hands down.
We were also disappointed in their being only one change space for babies and small bathrooms, considering the amount of people who are expected to visit (and who were there when we visited). It seems that in trying too hard to concentrate on customer service, Masters have neglected to think that families might visit the store together and concentrated solely on providing a better retail experience instead.