I'll be the first to admit that going to the pool store does not rank highly of my list of favorite things to do. It's out of the way and I always manage to spend more than I intend. The one good thing I can say is I do love the way pool stores smell...but I digress!
My opinions aside, going to the pool store is a bit of a necessity, unless one wants cloudy, green water! Of course, you can also order pool chemicals and parts online as many people do. I do a bit of both myself, but on the whole find myself going to a brick and mortar pool store more often than not.
As someone who has been a regular pool store customer and now a pool service business owner, I'd like to share with you some tips designed to help you save time, money, and hassle with your next pool store visit.
1. Figure out what you need before you go
Let's face it: retail stores are designed to sell you things. In some cases, things you don't truly need.
Well managed stores are lit and laid out purposefully, hoping to catch your eye with the latest promotion or product.
The pool store is no different. This is not to say that all pool stores are bad, not in the least. There are many well-run pool stores with well-trained staff who have your best interest at heart.
But because there is no guarantee of this, it doesn't hurt to do a little preparation before you go. You can use our free online pool chemical calculator to produce a list of needed chemicals before you go to the store. Of course, we can ship everything directly to your home for free -- but that's your decision. 😉
Bring a list with you and, if needed, show it to the pool store clerk. This way, they know you have done your homework and will be less likely to recommend a whole bunch of things you don't need.
2. Don't bring your kids
They say not to go grocery shopping while hungry. Why? Because chances are your hunger will cause you to want to buy a whole bunch of delicious looking things.
Similarly, my advice is to not go to the pool store with kids in tow, unless you have a super easy time telling them no. Why? Kids will see all the shiny and colorful things they don't have and want you to buy them. My guess is that kids, on average, will increase your ticket by $20 - $50.
If you have no choice but to have kids with you, tell them before you enter the store that we are not buying any pool toys today.
3. Bring broken parts or tools with you
If you need to replace a damaged or defective pool part, bring it with you.
Chances are, you won't remember exactly what it looked like or its dimensions, and when you get to the aisle where its potential replacements are, you will quickly be overwhelmed by all the choices.
4. Be wary of "free" water testing
Personally, I've never experienced this one, but I've heard about it from many, many pool owners.
Here's how it goes: You take a pool water sample down to the local pool store. They test it and analyze the results for you on the spot. Then they recommend that you purchase several hundred dollars worth of chemicals to fix your water balance issues.
You, not knowing any better, go along with it, thinking you might be viewed as backward for rejecting the science just performed before your very eyes. Turns out "free" water testing just got very expensive!
My advice: Take advantage of the free water testing service, but let the clerk know in advance that you will need time to evaluate the results. Take the water report with you, study it, form your own conclusions, and return another day to buy the products you need.
5. Ask for instructions on how to apply chemicals
Unless asked, most pool stores are happy to ring you up and send you on your way. However, don't be afraid to ask them for detailed instructions on how to apply your chemicals.
I've spoken with many a pool owner who rushed home from the pool store and dumped all the chemicals in their pool at the same time. Unsurprisingly, their problem persisted, and they are back at the pool store the next week.
If you do these things the next time you go to the pool store, I can almost assure you of a more pleasant shopping experience. I speak from experience as I've made most of these mistakes myself.