March 10, 2005 -- WHEN it comes
to meeting women in Manhattan, Matt Weinberg, a 39-year-old
salesman, says there’s no place like the bathroom fixtures aisle of
the Home Depot onWest 23rd Street. “There are a lot of good-looking,
singlewomen there,” Weinberg says. “It’s so easy to talk to women.
You’ll both belooking at the same chrome faucet, and it’ll be like,
‘Oh, are you renovating? Do you rent or own?’ “You can chat about
apartment living in New York, or the appliances. I’ll say, ‘How
do you feel about granite countertops?’ Or, ‘Have you tried this
kind ofvacuum cleaner?’ People are on their down time there, they’re
not all dressed up and it justseems more real, somehow. Would I talk
to these women in any other situation? Probably not. I’d
be too shy.” The home-goods giant store might seem like the last
place Manhattanites would go to seek romance, but Weinberg isn’t the
only person to have noticed there’s a hopping — albeit
under-the-radar - singles scene there, particularly for the 30-plus
"Hot Eye Contact + Flirting at Home Depot!!!" was the subject
line of a recent craigslist Missed Connection.
"We had some serious eye flirting going on today, even as we
crossed to different aisles. I saw a ring on your finger - was that
ugly troll your wife? Please tell me that was like an arranged
marriage or something! I'm much hotter than her, and I know I can
rock your world."
Indeed, the hardware haven is giving other much-touted pickup
spots - Barnes & Noble, the Apple store, Whole Foods, the
Jivamukti Yoga Center and, yes, even the F train - a run for their
Melissa Wysong, a 53-year-old stylist, was at the store a few
weeks ago when she noticed an attractive, 30-something woman
lounging on a pile of boxes. "She was preening, and it was so
obvious she wanted to get picked up," Wysong says.
Sitting next to the Ralph Lauren paint samples, no less.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, the West 23rd Street store was a
beehive of activity, packed with customers - very few in couple
Packs of women roamed the store, while a handsome hipster guy
strutted the water-filter aisle with two small dogs, grinning at the
female attention the dogs attracted.
Across the store, a cute salesclerk was chatting animatedly with
a male customer. She giggled, pushing him gently. "That's not what
I'm talking about!" she squealed, in a tone that suggested she was
not discussing different brands of light bulbs.
"I spied a very cute actress-model-student-with-a-day-job helping
out someone in the shelving areas," says Adam Djoas, a 36-year-old
writer. "I tried to think of a shelving question on the spot, but
And the hardware-store hookup isn't only for Mr. Fixits, he
points out. Unlike in other parts of the country, where masculinity
can be measured by the size of one's tool belt, in New York. many
men are completely at peace with their non-handy sides.
"You can commiserate together about being confused," he says.
"You can wander the countless shelves of dongles and doohickies,
having no idea what you're doing."
The Home Depot is relatively new to Manhattan - it opened here in
October 2004 - but its pickup potential had already been established
in other parts of the country.
It was listed among the Citysearch Top 10 Singles Scene Hotspots
in both Atlanta and Detroit (where, at No. 6, it edged out hip
nightclubs and trendy eateries).
The store has even been known to make an appearance in the
wedding pages. Last year, St. Louis-area minister Sandra LaRouche
performed a New Year's Eve wedding in the louver-doors aisle of the
store. Fifteen minutes before the ceremony started, an employee got
on the loudspeaker and said, "The management and staff of Home Depot
want to take this time to thank you for your patronage, and to wish
each of you a Happy New Year. You are cordially invited to attend
the wedding of Douglas Crider and Jeannine Skala, our customers who
will be married in the door aisle at 4 p.m."
A Home Depot employee sang a moving rendition of the Lord's
Prayer and, in lieu of rice, the guests tossed sawdust.
Debbie Mandel, the married 54-year-old author of "Turn on Your
Inner Light," once journeyed to Home Depot with a girlfriend as part
of an experiment in meeting men.
"We started out by getting a cart," she says, "and my girlfriend
tossed in an axe. I said, 'I don't think that's going to send quite
the right message.' I know a little bit about construction, so I
would pick men and ask them questions about caulking. They were
impressed. When it came to picking up men, we did very, very well!
"A lot of men, especially in the city, are scared of women who
want to date them for their status. But if a guy sees a woman in
Home Depot, buying things herself, she's going to come off as
positive and independent, and that's really attractive."