Yesterday was a disappointing day. Not because we got nothing done on the tiny house (although we got NOTHING done on the tiny house). No, it was disappointing because I realized just how NOT geared to small living our American society and our retail arenas are.

Because of where we live we have to find a fair amount of things are the large box stores or on the Internet. Both serve their purposes and this is not a post to simply bash them. So yesterday we headed into the box store of the orange variety to get a small list of things:

Not much to ask for, right? To be sure though we checked online and cross-referenced our local store to be sure these items were in their inventory. We were confirmed and encouraged and ready to pick up a few things to make our house seem more like a home. Once we walked through the door of the box though we were immediately hit with a sharp realization. Christmas trees and the strains of David Bowie yuletide tunes greeted us. A jolly man with an orange apron welcomed us. But the store seemed empty. It was as if they were closing but chose not to tell anyone. I noticed a sign that said “Please excuse our mess. We are conducting inventory.” I didn’t look twice. I figured it was just protocol. Once in the lighting department though I had a thought that the sign should have said:

“Please excuse our mess, lack of sales associates, and blatant disregard to product stock, as we are conducting inventory and secretly removing items by the dozen in preparation to support more online shopping and less actual customer service and store purchases.”

The ceiling fan was on display. It was gorgeous. But when we checked the Aisle and Bin the display directed us to we saw it had been replaced with another model. We needed help. I wandered off to find a store pro to help us. After 7 or 8 minutes of walking I found the electrical department head who immediately took to his handheld device to check inventory. They had 2 in stock but that was only on his device. Obviously the store inventory had yet to catch up with his handheld. I asked about the floor model. NO GO! It had no motor as they are required to assemble them without a motor for store display.

Disappointed we decided to take the high road, thank our sales associate, and proceed to order the very fan online from our smart phone. It took 4 minutes total, we received free shipping, and even saved 5% as the item is now on clearance.

Our luck followed us throughout the store as there were no 2′ bars in stock (in fact, the shortest was 8′). The light (which we hadn’t decided on actually) was not present on display so we were stuck looking at awful vanity lights which we thankfully chose NOT to purchase. It was just horrible. Crystal looked at me and said, “Stores just aren’t set up for tiny houses.” WOW! That stung. “Why,” I asked? And for the rest of our outing I kept thinking about how even our retail system is designed to propagate bigger is better. The only 24″ fan seemingly in existence is now on clearance and not to be replaced. The 2′ bars seem to be a mirage to the retail world. Our flush mount light will have to be ordered. How disheartening. I am happy to report though that we secured the $6.99 bottle of wood glue. They had plenty in stock!

How have your shopping trips shaped up? Do you find yourself looking for literally small items that no retailer seems to carry? Is the tiny house world regulated to online shopping and DIY modifications? Perhaps we’ve uncovered a cottage industry?