Stanley’s PowerLock tape measure, one of the first reviews I did here at ToolGuyd, is a great basic tape measure. I have a couple, and was looking to buy some more this holiday season.
Stanley used to put together a 4-pack for the holiday shopping season, featuring a USA-made 25′ tape measure with 3 smaller PowerLock-style tapes with 16′ and 12′ sizes. I remember that the 25′ tape was made in the USA, and the smaller tapes were imported.
For the 2019 holiday shopping season, Stanley put together a new 2-pack where you could buy two PowerLock 25′ tape measures for the price of one.
Around Black Friday 2019, I believe it was that Saturday or Sunday, I tried to find the Stanley PowerLock tape measure 2-pack deal at my local Home Depot, but was not successful. It didn’t sell out early, it was just that nobody could find the sales floor display.
I was bummed out. I tried again once more but still couldn’t find the deal, so I gave up.
A couple of weeks later, while documenting the situation with Stanley, FatMax, and Dewalt quietly and all at once transitioning to new “reach” marketing terms over “standout,” I found it!
But… where was the “made in USA with global materials” labeling on the packaging? The flag on the tape measures themselves?
So I looked at the back and… Made in Thailand.
Frankly, I might have still bought the 2-pack, but it was still a bit disappointing. The fact of the matter is that I don’t need more tape measures, and the “these are imported?!” surprise canceled out the deal appeal and I put the 2-pack back on the shelf.
If I’m spending on $10 on imported Stanley Black & Decker tape measures, I’d rather get the hi-vis 4-pack.
So, the regular PowerLock 25′ tape measure is made in the USA, and the 2-pack tapes are made overseas. Not a big deal, right?
There are two possibilities. First, it’s possible – but very unlikely – that Stanley has shifted production of these tape measures overseas. Second, the more probable explanation, is that Stanley needed to produce these tape measures overseas to achieve the volume and price point needed for the 2-for-$10 holiday season deal.
Maybe it’s possible that Craftsman tape measure production made USA production of sufficient quantities difficult or impossible, presuming that Craftsman and Stanley tape measures are produced or assembled at the same Stanley Black & Decker USA facilities. But, I think it’s more about lowering costs.
Stanley isn’t the first brand to change things up COO-wise for holiday shopping season deals, but this was very surprising nonetheless.
Last year, I noticed that Milwaukee was bundling imported utility knife blade packs with their FastBack tape measure bundles. That makes sense from a volume and cost standpoint but also keeping in mind where the utility knives were made and where everything was bundled together.
But here, I wouldn’t have expected for the main product origins to have changed.
Ah well, just a reminder to keep an eye on things. Country of origin is more important to some tool users than others, and that’s okay.