Avon Home Depot dwarfs Gart Sports

Gart Sports' future 20,000-square-foot store in Wildhorse Marketplace is emblematic of big-box retail in Steamboat Springs, but a trip south to the neighboring ski town of Avon serves as a reminder that "big" is a relative term.

In Avon, Gart may represent the nation's largest chain of sporting goods stores, but when it comes to big-box retail, Gart's 33,000 square feet pale in comparison to a new The Home Depot about a mile away on East Beaver Creek Road.

The Home Depot opened in May 2003 with a 120,000-square-foot home improvement center. Its garden center alone is almost as big as the nearby Gart Sports store.

The Home Depot, which has a low profile from Interstate 70, opened with 130 full-time employees.

Arriving in front of The Home Depot and the Super Wal-Mart next door is akin to rolling up to the departure lanes at Denver International Airport. However, instead of rows of jets parked on the tarmac, there are fleets of lawn tractors and gas grills out front.

The aisles of the store are wide enough to accommodate a Subaru Outback, and the shelves contain 35,000 different products.

The Home Depot contains a lumberyard within its walls and has a contractors' center where professionals can pick up a CD-ROM that lists all of the inventory and updated prices.

Four-by-8-foot sheets of half-inch drywall are stacked high and priced at $3.95. A consumer in Steamboat could pay as much as $6.98 for a similar product. A 10-foot length of brown vinyl gutter is just $2.97 at The Home Depot. Wheeled Rubbermaid trash cans range from $15 to $20.

The store includes a paint shop strategically located by the front door. There are kitchen appliances, kitchen cabinetry and floor coverings.

Consumers can shop for pre-hung doors for their remodeling projects. A six-panel pine door slab is priced at $89, and a pre-hung version of the same door is $132. Step up to knotty alder and the prices are $199 and $270.

-- To reach Tom Ross call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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