Hardware packaging

I am fed up with going to the hardware store and having to buy a plastic container of screws when all I want is a few. Why cannot Bunnings and Mitre 10 use scanners to identify small items and then sell them by weight? Sceondly, the other dfay I wanted two turnbuckles, and had to buy them in two separately plastic packed packages of one each; I am sure the only reason they do that is to increase profits and provide something to print their barcode on, but if they could scan the same as loose items, and let the computer work out what they are (and possibly count them), it would be cheaper and quicker for us, 100% reduction in packaging waste and less mistakes and time wasted looking up the same items in a well thumbed and dirty catalogue. Win win, the store can adjust prices electronically (but they will still need to tally with the marked shelf price. There is an urgent need to reduce plastic packaging waste. It doesn’t matter what you buy, we should always be able to avoid excess packaging, and there is an answer, as I have outlined.


Another reason for some over the top type packaging is that it reduces shoplifting.

FWIW I discovered a small number of fasteners and the like at Bunnings are sold by the piece as well as in the packaging, but one has to be diligent in looking for those in trays; one might or might not find the specific fastener wanted by the piece regardless. Some of the single pieces have bar code wraps and others they match to full scale printouts - the self checkout creates others problems paying, but also not for here. The computer scanning is a good idea although would require investing in a lot of new kit as well as introducing ‘scan price guarantees’ if the scanner got it wrong. All manageable issues for a cost in hardware, software, and staff training.

A more sinister retail experience is represented by a local fastener shop where the minimum sale is $5. Want 5 screws probable value $0.25 or less? Don’t buy anything else and they do charge $5 to cover their time in finding and picking your ‘small things’ from their impressive range kept in non-customer accessible trays.


We have a local shop here that will literally charge 25 cents if that’s all it comes to. They won’t allow that on a credit card though … I think that is minimum $10 … can’t think why :wink:

I recall a similar shop down south many years ago that had a sign and a Salvos tin - sign was something to the effect “If you spend less than 10$ consider our time and a donation to the Salvos”. As a frequent 25 cent ‘offender’ I sometimes stuffed some money in the tin. They didn’t prescribe an amount for the donation, but gave the hint $10 (from memory) was less than worthwhile for them …


Self-service hardware stores aimed at the public have set their business models accordingly.

Small items that are impractical to affix barcode labels to individually are sold in prepacks with the barcode on the packaging.

Larger but relatively lower value items such as 12 mm bolts are sold unpackaged with a paper label with the barcode attached to them.

Higher value items are sold in tamper-resistant packaging so as to try to reduce theft.

Old fashioned, traditional style hardware stores such as Cairns Hardware in Cairns still sell individual items, and quantities of items by weight.

Stores that specialize in nuts, bolts and other fasteners sell item individually, and are usually more competitive, but you have to wait for your turn in the queue at the counter to request what you want.

The one I usually visit sometimes just gives me the few items I need if the value is well under $1.00 but they do have policy of $10.00 minimum for EFTPOS sales.

It is really just a case of “horses for courses”.


I haven’t been fronted with a minimum charge or a wry request for charity but in the day when I frequented specialty fastening shops my list would be for hundreds or thousands, my house contains about 12,000 screws and bolts. The mobs I went to were knowledgeable and patient and made sensible suggestions if they couldn’t do exactly what you asked for. It would amuse me to see their eyes light up and their faces go all warm and gooey when a boat owner came in and started to say nice words like ‘monel’ and ‘stainless steel’.


We get our fasteners from a small shop, very labour intensive for them, we describe the item and they bring the box out, count out, look up, calculate and we pay cash. If they don’t have it, they can get a box up within 2 days to give us our 2 x 8cent Wotsits = 15cents and 15 mins of staff time. Their hope is that one day we will return to buy 10,000 Wotsits = $800 & 5 mins of staff time. Mr Z won’t shop at Bunnings on principle.

When we do have to buy a packet of fasteners we then put the left-overs in a box with compartments labelled - made by re-purposing plastic & cardboard packaging - and pull these out before shopping. We had a lifetime of half used packets before we cleaned up and sorted, it was too easy to just buy a new packets of 20, although we had 30 on hand, to get one.


Nice idea, but well beyond the capabilities of the antiquated computer systems Bunnings use. Even the staff have complained to me about how hard it is to use. I suspect the same situation applies in Mitre 10.


There are two issues here, and excessive plastic packaging is the main one. None of the replies have addressed it yet!


The more important issue is the excessive plastic packaging, often difficult to cut through, and always non-compostable! And we have to pay extra for it.


It might be to do with the volume of ‘shrinkage’, or pocket discounting that goes on. Small items are easy to pick up and people ‘forget’ to take them out at the cash register. it can lead to large losses.

Hence the need to make the items more secure, and less pocket-able.


Today, I bought a couple of packets from Bunnings. One was stapled shut. Opening it presented no problems.

The other was heat- welded. Getting it open, I injured myself.

The packages in question are pocket-sized. It seems to be more a case of retailer convenience.

I wonder how much blood has been shed.


Ouch! No major damage I hope


Nothing major. As an older bloke, I don’t self-seal as quickly as I did.


Discussing this last night it was suggested that, if the distributors insist on welding products into armoured packages, then the package should incorporate enough explosives to make it self-opening. I pointed out that I generally manage to avoid injuring myself on the tools needed to defeat the armour-plating. It’s the sharp edges of the cut plastic that tend to get me. An explosive charge would probably lead to more jagged edges.

Might make Christmas Day a bit more lively though. :grin:

1 Like