Lowe’s house brand, Kobalt Tools, posted a image of their new mechanics tools display, which is supposedly coming to stores.
My last visit to a Lowe’s store was a couple of weeks ago, and they did have a small section of select Kobalt mechanics tools, such as torque wrenches and storage accessories, but nothing like this.
Noticed anything new in the Kobalt section of your local Lowe’s? Our mechanics tool area has a brand new look.
A couple of comments by Kobalt Tools’ followers mirror my own experience, indicating that they haven’t seen anything like that at their Lowe’s stores yet.
Still, the season is early, and Kobalt’s post suggests that the new displays will be headed out to stores. The Kobalt Tools section looks nothing like this, but perhaps it will, soon.
A couple of years ago, Lowe’s revamped their mechanics tool section, making Craftsman the focus. Just before that happened, there were reader concerns that Kobalt offerings would be phased out in favor of Craftsman, and that is pretty much what happened.
Aside from promotional tool displays during holiday shopping seasons, Kobalt was deprioritized and practically disappeared from stores for a time.
While the pictured sample display is far from being a major resurgence, it’s still an interesting and welcome development. It’s good to have another option besides Craftsman.
Have you seen any changes to the Kobalt Tools display at your local Lowe’s?
Mine has had a similar display taking up about a third of the Craftsman aisle for a while now. Little bigger then the picture. I still like the Kobalt tools and have a number of them at home and my work tool bag.
Dean in Des Moines
Lowe’s has done enough brand changing over the last 10-15 years that I’m convinced not to buy any of them for fear the stated warranty will be unfulfillable. At the other end of the color spectrum, Home Depot has stuck with Husky for as long as I can remember, and I trust their warranty better.
Kobalt tools was introduced by Lowes back in 1998.
I think your “fears” are unfounded.
Those “fears” are based on real world experience in my case.
They will not honor some of the Kobalt warranties in-store. Last year I had a set of post hole diggers that had a “lifetime warranty” on them and they broke. I took them to Lowes and they told me to call Kobalt, that they weren’t supporting Kobalt warranties in-store any more because they were picking up Craftsman.
I wasn’t rude or anything, but I asked a number of questions about why they were not honoring the warranty and why would anyone buy the Kobalt branded items they currently had on their shelves and the service desk employee finally said she would try to “make it right.” She told me to go pick out another set of diggers by Kobalt and she would give me $20 credit toward a new purchase.
There were no $20 diggers on their racks. She wound up comping a new set of diggers for me, but that was more a kindness on her part than Lowes standing behind the Kobalt warranty. The party line I was given is that since they are carrying Craftsman now, they honor that warranty in-store. Kobalt warranties have to go through their support department. Kobalt, according to the service people I spoke with, is now being treated as just another brand and support for it goes through Kobalt itself.
I appreciated her kindness in this instance, but I haven’t bought another Kobalt-branded tool since and have mainly shopped at Home Depot.
You confirmed what I suspected all along. Lowes sucks. I will buy online via Amazon, eBay, or somewhere else. If I have an urgent need, it’s going to be HD or Harbor Freight. Lowes would be an absolute last resort. The workers are as helpful as Zombies, so if I go, I ignore them and expect no warranty.
Mike (the other one)
This is why I prefer to buy tools from Ace Hardware or True Value, if not Amazon. Lowe’s customer service is nearly nonexistent.
The Kobalt tool chest I bout has some nasty paint problems. Almost like rust bubbles, but I think it was just bad adhesion. The Lowes manager had no clue how to deal with that issue as it was the last one in their system. I sent an email to kobalt and didn’t receive a response. I sent another one later and was basically told to bring it to the store, or I could shit the item to them and they would repair it. It felt like a very canned response. Clearly I’m not shipping a tool cabinet anywhere for warranty work.
Later the power strip failed miserably with sparks and all. I took it back to Lowes and they had no clue how to replace it. I finally suggested the give me the nearly identical Craftsman branded one. I had to accept that there would be no lifetime warranty on the craftsman one because I didn’t buy it. Sounds to me like the manager let me steal it. I’m sure that’s how it eventually went through the inventory system.
That truly is rude customer service if they told you to defecate your toolbox!!! Hehe
As others have said I just assume Kobalt doesn’t have any warranty and make my cost value analysis based on that. Typically there has always been a higher quality tool that I’m willing to pay more for or it’s a cheaper tool if it’s a one time throw away tool hence I don’t own anything Kobalt.
^ they change suppliers that make the “brand” of Kobalt tools “frequently” to increase the margin for Lowe’s vs. the customer.
For example late 90’s – early 00’s Williams (a Snap On owned brand) was the supplier of the Kobalt branded ratchet & wrenches (Made in USA), a Kobalt ratchet/wrench “today” given to a customer as “lifetime warranty” claim on a Williams made item potentially is not same build quality “if” Lowe’s honors the warranty on a 20 year old ratchet.
Charles A Andrews
I love those Williams kobalt tools. Would not own any of that gunk now.
That can be an issue with a house brand. When Lowes premiered the Kobalt brand in 1998 they went with a respected USA OEM. At one point they switched to another one (Danaher). But like most house brands there is probably no commitment to re-up contracts and switching OEMs to improve profitability or for other reasons is not unlikely.
Similarly when Home Depot acquired the Husky brand name from Stanley. The Husky brand dates back to 1924. The early Husky tools sold at Home Depot were made by a Stanley subsidiary (National Hand Tool – New Britain Tool.) Today the OEMs are varied – but mostly in China or Taiwan. I own some Husky wrenches dating back to when New Britain Machine Company owned the brand – and before it was sold to Litton Industries – who sold it (and Blackhawk) to National Hand Tool – which in turn was acquired by Stanley.
Lowes moved on from Williams branded tools due to low sales. The Williams wrenches, sockets and ratchets were far higher in price than what was being sold at other chains. They were excellent tools, but few customers were willing to pay the high price.
why does this not surprise me? For the average person its more about price than anything else. But on these type of forums you frequently hear the “Buy American ” rant
That looks like a pretty dense display – is that an attempt to have more tools available in-store despite the shrinking shelf-space?
What’s in the drawers? E.g. is there individual sockets perhaps?
I hope Kobalt doesn’t disappear. They make decent stuff. I usually buy more premium tools, but I own a few Kobalt items and I really can’t complain.
My local lowe’s craftsman section looks like this, only with a red color scheme instead of blue. They have individual sockets and wrenches in the drawers and the sets hanging up on the wall.
They have a Kobalt section thats a bit like this too, also with drawers for open stock sockets.
I found it funny that the last time I looked for a couple sockets to replace some missing ones I found that the Craftsman ones were very well organized and easy to find but the Kobalts had the classic problem with drawers like that in a home improvement store: inconsiderate customers and/or inept employees have mixed up all the contents so it was impossible to find what I needed.
I’ll have to take a closer look next time I’m in a Lowes. I don’t visit regularly, but I did pop in a couple weeks ago and wandered through the tool aisles.
I saw lots of combo sets and even a short wall of Craftsman ratchets and socket-only sets, but I didn’t notice any individual sockets. Maybe the drawers just didn’t catch my eye.
If I’d seen loose Craftsman sockets I might have bought a couple. I haven’t heard any exciting feedback on them, but I would do that just to try for myself – plus I’m guilty of being a “completionist”; I find myself compulsively filling gaps in my socket collection (and sometimes those “gaps” are self-created when I buy a size on the extreme end for a drive size – like a 1/2″ 6mm socket or a 1/4″ 17mm).
I don’t recall any Kobalt except in the clearance bins. That was just one store though. There were still Kobalt power tools for sale.
I have some of the craftsmen impact sockets that I bought at Lowes and have been happy with them so far.
Miss the sears days of isle after isle of mechanics tools. Lowes and depot do not have the space to commit to mechanics tools and it seems like habor freight is the only game around for the normal diy mechanic. To bad maybe one day Lowes will expand the mechanics tool isle more.
I agre. I like a hf but alot of the time I just want something better and I usually end up going to or ordering from oriley or napa.
I miss Sears’ giant selection, too, but Harbor Freight isn’t the only diy mechanic’s choice if an online order would be too slow. Auto parts stores still have some specialty tools, single purpose sockets, trim tools, etc., that the big box centers will not stock in stores. They don’t offer amazing amounts of tools, but it’s something that fills the void Sears left.
Mike (the other one)
My local Napa is greatly expanding their automotive tool section. The Carlyle tools are no longer behind the counter and there is a much bigger selection. They also have a small amount of SBD Craftsman tools.
My nearest Lowes has had that exact display since they did their Craftsman rollout. The only difference is that the display in your photo is well stocked with merchandise.
Kobalt raced to the bottom. I wish the brand would go back to the Taiwan days… when it was good quality and value for the money. Their current offerings are unimpressive. Time to step up their game.
Perhaps the race to the bottom was intended. If Lowes ends up with more SK or Craftsman “V” items – then they might say Good=Kobalt, Better = Craftsman, Best = Craftsman “V” or SK. I’m sure they are watchng what HD does with positioning Husky versus Milwaukee mechanics tools. It will also be interesting about how both (Lowes and HD) deal with open stock on individual items like wrenches and sockets – and how that translates to warranty fulfillment.
I hope you’re right. I wonder where the Craftsman “USA” mechanics tools will fit into those tier levels… I’m guessing same quality as now… the “Better” tier. I’m okay with that.
I lik a quality USA made tool at a value price. That’s why Channellock pliers get my business.
That’s how the local Lowes display has been for about a year or more. But it looks a little smaller than the current setup.
Doesn’t look like there’s anything new. Some new wrench packaging maybe? Not much else.
It looks like they’re just making better use of the space they’ve allocated for Kobalt Tools.
The Kobalt display at my local Lowe’s has been about that size for a couple years now. It definitely was not as densely stocked as their new promo picture but still had enough to not look empty. Denser displays are much better than the bare Kolbalt shelves I saw when Craftsman hand tools were first introduced at Lowes. If they can efficiently make use of the limited space in both Kobalt and Craftsman aisles, I welcome the chance for a larger variety of tools to be stocked locally. The mechanics tool selection at the Menard’s locations around me have always dwarfed their neighboring Lowe’s and Home Depot selections.
Will be interesting to see what brand they claim is better quality
Dropping Kobalt a name they own and built to support a brand they don’t own
Lowes always made bad discussions on there branding
Is Kobalt making a resurgence in Lowes because Craftsman isn’t selling as well as anticipated?
I’ve wondered the same… if the new Craftsman stuff is selling as well as intended
Mike (the other one)
Kobalt isn’t going anywhere.
They are changing the packaging of wrenches, etc. to take up less space. It looks like a smaller selection, but they haven’t had a huge selection of Kobalt mechanics tools for years. The packaging was just more spread out to show off the tools.
Now they have Craftsman, which was a more well known name, so those took the spotlight. I imagine the Craftsman section will become more compact, especially if they want to offer a top-tier brand as well.
This looks about like what my local Lowe’s has, minus the banner. Off to the side of that section is a reasonable selection of boxed tool sets. My question is – are they phasing those out? I’ve noticed a number of those have been out of the store and clearance priced online. But I didn’t think they’d completely give up on the concept.
honestly the only reason i ever go to lowes is because they tend to be bad at managing their clearance (often not re-pricing them when they have price drops) so i will go there hunting deals. for example i just got some craftsman utility knives for $1.50 last week. and even then i only go hunting these deals because they are less than a mile from my house.