Shopping Guide - Hardware Stores, HomePro, HomeWorks
At present, competition in the hardware stores is a bit limited, and the only left major outlets are provided by HomePro.
An HomePro outlet is located at Wave Place, conveniently connected with the Phloenchit skytrain station. There is also an HomePro close to to Thailand Cultural Center subway station. At that area you will also find a Big C, so it is actually a big shopping area, but you will not find many foreigners there, even though it is quite easily reached nowadays.
The HomePro Plus on Ratchadapised Road (Thailand Cultural Center station) is by far the largest of the 2 stores mentioned.
At HomePro, you will find lots of 'do-it-yourself' equipment, bathrooms, kitchens, tiles, garden equipment, construction materials, electrical hardware and the like.
You can also have HomePro do some repairs, do some work in your bathrooms, install a kitchen etc. However, exactly how this works is not always clear. For example, at one time we wanted to put some wall paper around our living room and bedrooms. When taking information at a branch of HomeWorks, we were told all the work was for free, as long as we ordered a large enough amount of wall paper material.
Not long ago, we wanted to put some new floor and wall tiles in our bathroom, together with some other minor repairs. We were referred to an 'affiliated' home decoration company. For around 500 baht they visit you at home to take the necessary measurements, and then quote you a price afterwards. These designer companies really charge a lot of money. Honestly, we suspect they may have different prices for Thais and foreigners. Possibly, the hardware stores refer you to a home decoration company, 'specializing' in working for foreigners. Since the prices quoted were clearly inflated, we deferred having work done (nothing urgent, really).
The message is : sometimes it is for free, at other times you are referred to a home decoration company, that will charge a lot. If you have the inclination, it may be better to buy the material necessary, and find an outside company to do the work.
Despite the large floor space available, you might not find all you expect at these hardware stores (the same holds true for electrical goods stores at department stores). As other large stores, like department stores, HomePro is good at selling hardware, but not necessarily at having suitable accessories available.
For example, while lots of shops will sell dishwashers, you might have to do some effort to find dishwashing powder.
[You can find it at Foodland, and also at Villa Market, though three times more expensive than in your 'home' country].
Suffice it to say that this indicates that service after purchase can be suboptimal. For replacement of filters, or other accessories, you may be referred to the manufacturing company, which is not an ideal situation, because sometimes these companies are located way out of the center of Bangkok.
Nowadays, HomePro also offers online shopping. Their website to find items is easy to use, and ordering goods is a straightforward process. You can have items delivered, or make an appointment to pick up the goods in the store of your choice (although in our experience you may still have to wait a bit once you arrive, and they still have to go and fetch the goods you bought). If items are not too large, it may be advantageous to pick them up, since home deliveries are not always convenient, and may force you to stay home for more than half a day, since deliveries (this applies not only to HomePro) are not that punctual.
For the newcomer to Bangkok who is looking for new furniture, we would suggest you visit MBK- Center (formerly known as Mahboonkrong). On the fifth floor you will find ample choice of both cheap and upmarket furniture. As far as we know, this is the largest collection in Central Bangkok you will find. 10% discounts on the suggested price seems to be standard. MBK center can easily be reached by skytrain, a little walk from Siam Square. Best is to take the connection to National Stadium, and take the walkway into MBK from there. A good place to start, may also be an Ikea store on the outskirts of Bangkok (like at MegaBangna).