First of all, I've always tried to avoid big box for plumbing supplies simp
ly because they will always be out of something you need, and if time is mo
ney, you end up blowing the savings on second or third trip somewhere else.
I am now in Germany where we had basically five big box hardware chains. No
w we have two. All of the little stores where you can get specialized stuff
are long gone. Need a fine thread 10mm nut? You can forget it. Go to OBI (
the German HD) for a few plumbing washers? You'll need to buy an assortment
bag for ten bucks which maybe has two rings in it which are of any use to
anyone. I once told a cashier "if this little bag is really worth ten bucks
, then a car tire would cost more than a car."
But, Horror vacui (nature abhors a vacuum). Because of the market condition
s, thousands of little Ebay stores have popped up providing us with what we
need, and at reasonable prices. I now rarely go out to get things made of
metal or plastic. The postman brings it to me. You guys have McMaster, whic
h is great (no equivalent in Germany), but the model is still rather specia
lized. Partly, I suppose, because of high shipping costs, slowness, and unr
eliability of shipping in the US, and don't exclude car culture. I have ple
nty of friends who don't even drive.
When planning your next project, whatever it is, consider ordering all of t
he parts online. You need to plan a bit more carefully, but you might save
some money, and especially lot's of time!