Sometimes I have the thought that I should do an interactive assignment at Home Depot or Lowes. The idea would be that students would get a list of items and the first student to come back with a cart containing everything on the list would win. Clearly there would need to be some negotiating with the store manager, and all things being equal it would probably be kinder to them to do it when the store is closed. I guess maybe the carts are superfluous - we could just use phone cameras.
The root of the thing comes from being a summer stock TD (or strangely a commercial shop project manager). From time to time I would need something I would have to put my hands on or see before purchasing and that would mean that the intern (or the runner or the purchasing agent) really couldn't do it. In those cases I didn't really want to spend swaths of my day wandering the aisles of home centers. Knowing where things are is a necessary skill.
Over the years I've stumbled across some items that defy normal home center navigation. There are some things that that could be in multiple places and some that just really don't belong anywhere. My recollection is that the progenitor item in this category was dryer hose. The first impulse is that it would be with HVAC things, but that would be wrong. Then maybe with other pipe and tube... wrong. Maybe it will be with the dryers... close, but no. It is in the appliance section, but it pretty much has it's own little counter space on the fringe of the department.
And yes, FWIW I have needed to purchase both Dryer Hose and Bathroom Exhaust Fans for theatre projects.
The new reigning champion?
Outdoor Patio? No. Indoor Patio? No. Plumbing? No. Concrete accessories? No. Signage (like mailboxes, address signs and driveway markers)? No. Electrical accessories? No. Decking & Fence Posts? No. That stash of stuff at the Pro Desk? No. By the marking paint? No.
So where are they? I'll put it in the comments so you can keep guessing. FWIW I needed like 10 and you have to buy like 50. A can of field marking paint was $5 and these were $8. Also for what it is worth when I did ask someone the guy said "wow, that's a tough one." He took me to his first guess (well, second after I told him they weren't on the outdoor patio). Standing right in front of them he didn't see them, but I finally managed to put my hands on it.
Maybe I should have just used the paint. I found that right away.