New checkout setup at Menard's

I visited the Menard’s store in DePere, WI yesterday, a new super-duper-hooper-mega hardware store that just opened in February. I was very impressed with the size, the openness, the selection, the quantities and the prices weren’t too bad, either. (It’s like a Home Depot or Lowe’s chain.)

But what struck me most was the checkout counter. Never saw it this way before. The clerk and the customer are on the same side of a long bench. You can wheel a cart into a small niche in the counter and the clerk unloads it. You are generally standing beside or behind him, so you can see the register display as long as he isn’t blocking it. You have to walk around him to get to the credit card swiper, and bagging is the customer’s responsibility. I found myself sort of milling around the register as he handled the stuff.

Has anyone seen this kind of checkout system? The clerk said it was “OK,” but I think he was being diplomatic. I’ve only used it once, so I haven’t developed an opinion on it yet. And I wonder just what the reason for this design is. For one thing, it looks like it would be less secure. The clerk could be opening the cash register while you are behind him, then he has to turn around to hand you anything. Seems stupid. What’s the point? Is this going to be used for banks and tellers next?

Yeah, I agree it’s kind of an odd/interesting setup.
I think it’s done this way since Menard’s items can be so bulky/heavy etc. that the cashier can get to them more easily to scan them, count them, inspect them.
I don’t know however why this couldn’t have been achieved with a pass through for the cashier. I’d be uncomfortable always having my back turned to the customer when handling cash.

Our local BJs (Costco-type place) has a similar setup. It never struck me as odd.

How long have they had that? The Costcos I’ve seen never did, but it’s been decades since I was in one.

When I passed by the many empty checkouts with their wide aisles (only 2 open out of 12 or so), I first thought they were for contractors and bulky items, but then I saw they were all that way.

Our Menards got this a couple of years ago. I think it’s weird and unsafe. The cash drawer opens right into the customer area and the cashier is standing facing backwards to the customer.

As a former retail worker, I would absolutely hate being a cashier there. I worked at Macy’s where the individual registers were spread out and out in the open. Occasionally customers would walk behind me and I would have to shoo them away.

A supermarket in my area has this set-up, and I wondered exactly all the same things. I asked a cashier about that once, and he said the same thing. Color me: :dubious:

My guess is it’s an attempt to be more customer-friendly (the customer is part of the transaction instead of being behind a barrier). The areas around my home are not high-crime areas, so maybe it will work. I happen to know at least 3 clerks at our local Wal-Mart personally, by name, and they know me, so if I am a typical customer, theft wouldn’t be a profitable enterprise for most customers.

Heck, I remember when bank tellers were entirely enclosed in a wire cage. Literally, a cage, and they were locked in for work and let out by someone else with a key. Security style sure has changed.

Dunno. At least since I moved here four years ago.

I suspect that there, at least, it’s because the cashier is often having to scan large items that don’t go on the belt, but remain in the cart instead. It would be much more difficult to do that if they had to go around the register and counter.

I wonder if it’s the first step in self check-out. It’s actually less personal than the old way where the cashier faced you when scanning your items. It seems like no we buy stuff and have no interaction with the cashier. She scans out stuff with her back to us then we walk to the end of the line to run our debit card.

I’ve been to some banks where the tellers are all locked away behind Lexan walls with revolving bins to get checks/money from one side to the other.

One of the grocery stores near here has oddball checkstands. Instead of the traditional style where the checker faces the back of the store, and they step into a sort of cubby with the belt on their left and a short wall to their right, the checker faces the customer (more friendly that way, I guess) and the only thing behind them is the next checkstand.

More than once, I’ve seen the register drawer pop open with the checker not standing in front of it, (bagging the groceries, perhaps) making the contents readily accessible to a grab and run.

Home Depot licked that problem long ago with handheld wireless UPC scanners. The cashier can just step over to your cart and scan your sacks of concrete, plywood, etc.

Of bulky merchandise:

Even Walmart does that with larger stuff. I’ve had cashiers politely ask me to leave the big stuff in the cart and they’ll walk around the counter or just lean over it (depends on height, etc.) to zap it. :slight_smile:

The Menards in La Crosse (and I’m pretty sure Onalaska) are like that also - it is a bit weird. I’m guessing it is combination of the bulky item (sheets of plywood and such) and less spece (no need to reserve room for the cashier) resons


Only seen this setup at Menard’s and it always strikes me as odd. OK, it might make it easier to scan bulky items, but other stores like Home Depot have managed to deal with that problem without having the checker with his/her back to the customer!

Menard’s also has their employee break area right in the middle of the sales floor. What a weird place!

Actually, some of the branches at a local state bank ARE like that. Completely open with a machine that spits the money out.

Hint: Menard’s is a bit of an oddity among big box stores.

I was born and raised a Wisconsite, though I’m a flat-lander FIB these days. When I was a little kid in Madison (ca. 1980s) Menard’s was my dad’s go-to place for hardware and home improvement. My dad and his relatives used to bitch about the owner, don’t know why, but this was, in my childhood, the store in south-central Wisconsin for hardware, lumber, fixtures, etc.

Flash forward 20+ years - I was surprised to find a Menard’s near me in Carpentersville, IL. Went in - the decor and layout is still the same, but now it offers…drumroll…hardware! Lumber! Plumbing! TVs and appliances! (?) Groceries! (?!) Clothing! (!?!) etc. ! (!!!)

Plus it had the wacky checkout the OP describes. I think Menard’s is just kind of an oddity, as these types of stores go.

In Trinidad there are still a few ancient hardware stores, groceries, snack shops and pharmacies where shoplifting and robbery are flat impossible because they are nothing but a counter with employees behind it. You walk up and request what you want, the employee goes and gets it, you pay and they hand you the item and go get your change and bring it to you. There is usually a cage preventing someone from jumping over the counter, I suppose they could try to squeeze through the spot your items are handed to you.

It is actually pretty brilliant from a security standpoint, but obviously doesn’t work for stores you need to browse in like clothing or toys/electronics.

Only a small part of Menards sales are paid for with cash. Most are credit card, especially as they appeal a lot to contractors, and offer their own Menards card with special deals for cardholders.
And the customers are generally at the far end of the counter bagging their purchases, not standing behind the cashier.

That area is used by a lot of customers too, who buy pop & snacks from the machines there. Menards makes extra profits from that, compared to having it located somewhere in back.

Just because it’s profitable doesn’t make it less weird. I don’t think I’d like that setup if I were an employee there.

I don’t like the entrance/exit setup at Menard’s. The exit and entrances are so far apart that it doesn’t make a difference where you park, you’re gonna walk a mile to go in and come out of there. It kind of makes handicapped parking spots pointless.