I am sure you have heard about Sears’ financial… situation. They have been losing money (for years now), losing customers, closing stores, and suing their suppliers.
They lost a patent infringement lawsuit recently, lobbed public accusations against TTI, in addition to suing them, and sued Western Forge, at the same they started carrying imported pliers from another supplier.
Now, I’m told by a reader (thanks, Ryan!) that some of their Western Forge-made USA-made tools have been removed from store shelves. He said:
I talked to a person I know from Sears. Sears is pulling the American made Western Forge screwdrivers off the selves because of the dispute.
I asked if he was sure, and he said that he visited his Sears and saw that all the open stock had been pulled from the shelves, with only a few sets left remaining.
I would visit my local Sears to check, but there is no local Sears here anymore, they recently closed.
Sears used to be one of my favorite tool stores, and I’m not just talking about Craftsman tools. They used to have a great tool buyer, bringing a variety of otherwise hard to find brands to stores, online and brick & mortar. I don’t know what happened to them, but it was very noticeable when they left – the tool selection and brand variety stopped growing.
What happened to the Craftsman Tool Catalog?
What happened to the holiday season tool catalog?
A few years ago, new Craftsman hand tools came out, and they were made overseas. I tried to remain positive, that it was okay if some new tools were made overseas, as long as the core tools were continued to be made here. But that didn’t happen.
Craftsman discontinued their Craftsman Professional brand, and slowly but very obviously, they stopped making tools here. Perhaps that contributed to the closure of Armstrong’s USA factory.
I worked with lots of people at Sears and Craftsman. Many of them were very excited and prideful of the brand. They cared about the brand, they cared about the products.
So what happened?
All I could guess is that the executives seemingly stopped caring about customers, the brand, or both. Or, if they never really cared, maybe they just started neglecting the wants and needs of us, their previous regular customers.
There has been a constant emphasis, these past few years, on Sears becoming an Amazon-like marketplace, and on their Member-Driven program. Sears has been trying to turn themselves into what, a service?
Customer service has gotten worse, tool selection has been stagnant in some areas, greatly diminishing in others. Their website is not up to modern usability standards, in my opinion.
There are still some interesting new Craftsman tools worth buying, such as their low profile Z-driver screwdriver from last year, but where can you buy it? It’s sometimes too much of a headache to order from Sears.com, and there’s no local store I can easily visit anymore.
I remember talking to a very enthusiastic Craftsman social media rep, just before the Craftsman Experience was built in Chicago. It sounded amazing, and I was hopeful that we’d see more of them. After it opened, the Craftsman Experience eventually underwent a massive remodel into a Kenmore and Craftsman studio, and then eventually closed.
More recently, I don’t think I’ve talked with anyone at Sears or Sears’ Craftsman for nearly a year. And if you don’t count the talks we had about their “smart” Pro Series lockable tool box that Ben reviewed, our last communications were even earlier.
Back in early 2015, someone at Sears reached out, asking for some personal feedback on the tool department. I shared my then-opinions about Sears and Craftsman, and after I presented the idea, he expressed interest in seeing reader feedback as well. They promised to read over the comments, and that the feedback could potentially lead to changes they wanted to bring about.
So what’s been done since March of 2015? There haven’t been any changes, at least nothing for the better.
Was it all for nothing?
That wasn’t the first time I was asked for feedback. Prior to that, I had a phone call with someone at Craftsman about store demos. I wanted to talk about some of the things that customers like me would like to see changed at stores, and the person I spoke to kept talking about 3D printing demos and workshops. I remember getting frustrated and said something like: Sears stores cannot manage or man tool demo stations, or even have them in working order in the middle of the winter holiday shopping season. If something like a “try me” hand tool station is too complicated, I have little confidence that Sears can do anything successful with 3D printing.
Even before my misled optimism in 2015 for changes that never came, I had always felt that my comments and criticisms fell on deaf ears. That’s why I posted an open letter to Sears, asking why they were cutting Craftsman Pro and USA-made tools from the lineup. After that went up, I was told that I could always email them with feedback. While true, I had grown to believe that I was not being taken seriously. All I wanted was for someone to listen, to know that we were unhappy. And with that public post, I sure got their attention.
Even with their attention, nobody ever got back to me about why Craftsman Pro and USA-made tools were disappearing.
Customers like me? Like you? They stopped caring about us. It seemed they had grown more interested in appealing to gift-givers, and value-shoppers. It seemed that the Craftsman tool brand was only alive 2 times a year – before Christmas, and before Fathers Day.
These days, what do we mean to Sears? Are we just numbers, “members” who are automatically so, based on past Craftsman Club enrollment?
All of these little things have led me to one conclusion. The powers that be at Sears and Sears’ Craftsman? They just don’t care. If they did, things would be different, or at least it would feel different.
There are no more tool catalogs, no more Craftsman Experience events, no more holiday season previews, no more media communications. And all this was well before they sold the brand name to Stanley Black & Decker.
There weren’t enough associates when I needed one, and one year there were too many “do you want to sign up for a free home estimate” solicitations when I just wanted to browse the holiday deals in peace.
At least, Stanley Black & Decker promises great things for their new Craftsman brand, including their intent to bring much manufacturing back to the USA. I can see the potential that SBD brings to the brand, and am hugely eager and optimistic about what is to come. Through their efforts, hopefully the Craftsman brand will be properly reborn.
As for Sears, it seems that the ruin stemmed from business decisions made at the highest levels. I feel for the workers whose livelihoods are tied to the company. But the Sears that exists today is not the one I used to love shopping for tools at. It’s a poor reflection of what it was even just a few years ago.
I used to think that Sears could turn things around. But at this point, I don’t think they even know how.
All of the things I used to love about shopping for tools at Sears? They’re long-gone. And why? That’s one of the most frustrating parts of it. All I see are a series of business decisions that alienated me as a customer, little by little.
The Craftsman and Sears that used to exist – it meant a lot to me, and still means a lot to me. That’s why it saddens me to reminisce about the Sears that was, and to know that the way things are now, I don’t think I could be a Sears customer ever again.
Will never ceases to amaze me how people who are terrible at there job can get so far. Sears used to be the Titan in retail and it took a handful or even maybe just Eddie Lampert to take a company that was starting to decline and just make it crash and burn.
When you can run a company into the ground then sell off everything to make money, and it’s all perfectly “legal” (i.e. people are paid off to look the other way and not make any laws against such socially descructive actions), then of course people like Eddie Lampert are going to do just that.
Simple the Peter principle……people rise to their incompetence…..
The craftsman brand has been going down hill for a very long time…..especially their electric tools…..don’t even shop there any more……
B&D have some work to do to bring the brand back……don’t have much confidence in them either……bought some B&D equipment , poorly engineered,
Hyundai used to be a joke…now their top of the line sedans are being compared to bmw, lexus and Mercedes. Give it time. What was junk before may be the new basline.
Well, Sears is dead. Someone needs to shoot it get it out of its misery. In my 20’s and 30’s I went to Sears every weekend because I was doing some project and I did not have the right tool for the job. I built up my tool collection.
I choose Craftsman because of the quality and availability. The tool truck was not for me. I WAS a complete Craftsman snob. If it did not say Craftsman I did not want it in my toolbox even though I knew the specific tool manufacturer made tools for other brands. I was very loyal to Craftsman and the executives before Lambert let me down. Lambert is selling Sears’ properties and that was the reason he bought Sears. Not to keep the brand going.
I am hoping for the best with Stanley but I want a store of tools like Freight Harbor on every corner. Maybe start a Craftsman hardware franchise stores. Craftsman will not be the same if you only have a small section at Home Depot or Lowes.
They closed all the stores around me unless I want to go in a K-Mart that hasn’t been updated or remodeled since the 80s. Even before that though, they started giving me problems with warranty replacements. The last USA ratchet I returned, they gave me a Chinese made model that literally broke the first time I used it. I haven’t bought anything there since. I’ve been going with Husky, Kobalt, or Pittsburgh from Harbor Freight. I hope HF is serious about improving their quality because they could definitely fill the void left by Craftsman.
Well it had been going downhill for a while and now they’re pretty much dead. Their decline has been going on for decades. Inept upper management and failure to adapt I would image are the main reasons.
I do however feel way more optimistic about Craftsman. As long as Stanley Black & Decker slots them in their lineup correctly without causing massive overlap everywhere then I think the brand could easily be salvaged (I don’t believe the brand has become tarnished to the point it’s toxic) as long as the hand tools are made in USA. If it’s made in China all the time like recent Craftsman then people aren’t going to be enthused about it.
While Sears does seem to crumble on a daily basis, people seem to lose sight of the fact that next summer we are going to have a brand new, well-funded company offering USA-made hand tools at mid- (to perhaps upper) price points.
What could this look like? At least some of the Mac- and Proto-designed mechanics tools (and Duratek screwdrivers) could get passed down to a new Craftsman Professional brand. Same with DeWalt power tools. Where will they source pliers? Or locking pliers … USA-made Vice Grips? I have no idea, but I’m excited to see what they do.
The thing that worries me about Stanley is they have a bad habit of making “Made in USA – with global materials” stuff, that’s on the edge of what the law allows to be sold as “Made in USA”. Even a lot of the MAC, Blackhawk, and Proto stuff went overseas so it seems unlikely they will dedicate themselves fully to making Craftsman stuff in the USA unless there’s also going to be a renewed effort to do the same with their higher tier brands.
It’s possible we’ll see a return to USA production for lots of Stanley’s brands and tools in general, but while I do want it to happen, I’m not going to get my hopes up only to be let down again by the economics of greed and high profit margins.
With Irwin and the Vise-Grips, yeah, Stanley really could bring production back home to DeWitt, but I just don’t see them putting in the effort or caring that much. I’d love to be proven wrong, and like many others, would be glad to open up my wallet for a whole slew of new USA-made Vise Grips.
Not just on the edge of the law. They had a consent decree a few decades ago for selling Taiwan hardlines marked “Made in the USA”.
I doubt you’ll see any closed plants reopened by Stanley. Its more likly they just add to the production lines at their operating facilities.
I want to be excited, but I have to settle for cautiously optimistic. Part of the magic of what was Craftsman, was Sears’ easy credit and ubiquitous retail presence. I’m not sure how much of that will be there for the New Craftsman.
Eddie Lampert is bleeding the company dry on purpose, to make him money. It will never get to Amazon status without a massive amount of work and restructure, so instead he’s driving Sears into the ground so he can sell off the assets and pay his salary.
I didn’t see you mention that Sears is closing ALL their stores in Canada, they just got approval this week to liquidate assets.
I did read about that, but Sears Canada seems to have had a different structure, and completely different Craftsman tools. I lack any significant insight into what Sears Canada has been doing for the past few years.
Target Canada also all closed not too long ago. But the connection to USA retailers is similarly very loose.
I don’t suppose it’s worth pointing out that: 1) Eddie Lampert has not collected a salary or cash bonus; 2) the cash generated from selling the Craftsman brand was largely distributed to its pension plan; and 3) even if he’s lending money secured by the company’s assets, I don’t see how an 8% loan that may or may not ever get paid back (at least in full) is making anyone any money.
Eddie Lampert ruined Sears and Craftsman … no question about it. But let’s stop pretending that he’s somehow cashing in.
Lambert might not be getting a salary but he is getting a bonus very year and he was issued stock options. His stock options will be the first to be paid even if Sears goes bankrupt.
I doubt Sears has a pension plan any more. At lambert’s level salaries don’t add up to anything because the board want pay 1M in salary but will pay millions in bonuses and stock options.
He’s received no cash bonus, and his stock options are worthless … stockholders (including stock options) get nothing in a bankruptcy.
I’m not trying to defend Lampert … only to educate and dispel popular myths.
Preferred stock options get paid before liquidation.
Good points. Supposedly the cash-out Eddie gets is from the Real Estate that Sears holds.
Lampert owns Seritage and has been funneling Sears’s assets into Seritage while racking up huge liabilities in Sears Holdings against them. The plan is to have Sears Holdings go bankrupt after he steals all of their real estate.
I think his master plan is gonna backfire, though, because when Sears goes bankrupt it’s going to be the last straw that kills off most American malls and then that real estate isn’t going to be worth anything.
I agree with that.
Exactly. The only thing I can figure is that Malls can be de-malled and turned into Big Box stores, which is a lucrative transition occurring across over-malled America right now.
didn’t work out that way here.
One of our malls turned into city/county buildings and even that didn’t keep long.
they bulldozed it shortly after and finally 7 years latter it’s turning into a truck depot.
granted the neighborhood sucks but that’s not too surprising.
Shop Your Way is going to be what sticks around when it’s all over as Lampert’s online venture to compete with Amazon. Sears and Kmart are just a way to get customers used to using Shop Your Way or whatever else they’ll call it.
Lampert is only spending his millions propping up Sears so he can sell off the Kenmore and DieHard brand names like with Craftsman…then sell off all the mall real estate for millions more than he ever spent, keep “Sears” around as a shell and rake in the millions in contract money for the next 15-25 years.
I think he’ll absolutely get away with it, too.
He did cash in. He sold previously owned Sears Properties to his other company Seritage. It made profitable store unprofitable. His interest has and will always be the Real Estate.
Sears Canada went bankrupt . Fd over all their employee pensions . They’re in liquidation as of last week
Interesting there was a group of managers who tried to buy Sears Canada and keep it running . They were rebuked. Sears wanted to shut down . They were not interested in finding a buyer
The irony for sears is that they pioneered the “catalog” and “buy at home” business and they lost to Amazon and other suppliers for the same reason. Before they were retail they were THE catalog company. They just couldn’t bring it back and that is very sad….
Sears is dead because it attempted to do for the 21st century, what they were born as in the 20th. They attempted to make their stores and catalog virtual, so they didn’t need to change their catalog shopping model.
This is a disaster, because frankly, in the 21st century, we’re looking for EVERY choice, not just the handful of things you would normally fit on a catalog page.
Their downfall is the result of old traditions holding too tightly to a world that doesn’t want them anymore. If they had managed to become an Amazon-like eRetailer, they couldn’t justify their traditional workings. Like the Catalogs, and the Customer Service, and all that. They had a choice, and they chose wrong. That’s the stakes in the Business world. And as the saying goes… Pride Goeth Before The Fall. Well, when you’re as mighty and powerful as Sears USED to be… that fall is very far, and deadly to all involved when they finally hit the ground.
Sears is gone. From its ashes, we will probably see some confidence and expansion in more modern companies, unafraid to fill the void where Sears used to be. More Niche stores, more Online-Only stores, and probably lower competitive pricing as well. The more we shed the old, the better the New will be. It’s really the same with the actual Tool Users out there. We have some poster on ToolGuyd here who aren’t OLD, they’re just Old School. Decades, and Decades of experience, doing things the traditional ways, and yet… they’re not afraid to post here, give us younger ToolGuys pro tips, and teach us what they know. Sears, as a business, was just standing there, expecting everyone to just do things the old way, but the likes of ToolGuyd Users have accepted the new world of technology as an opportunity. They’re thriving members of our community here, from all over the world, and they’re helping ToolGuyd grow as a whole.
Sears, on the other hand… Withdrew from the modern world. They held, desperately, onto the old ways, and reached out to help NO ONE to grow into the 21st century. And so, as it ages, it dies. Leaving behind only those who are willing to do what they refused to. The USERS who are willing to embrace new platforms, and accept no laziness from their retailers.
I, for one, am quite happy they are going. I am very happy to have platforms like THIS ONE to compensate for the loss of Sears. Simple as that.
I don’t agree with your Amazon future. People who use tools wants a place to go and buy a tool because they need them now. They don’t want to order a tool and a week later receive it in the mail. They do projects in the present. Amazon is nice if you have a neighbor that you can borrow tools and later order your own.
The web is just like the category of the old days. It allowed you to search what they had so you would know everything they offer. My experience with ordering and receiving it in mail is anything over 50lbs the package is damage and the contents have to be sent back multiple times until the content is not damaged and by them I went to a store to get it anyway.
We also want the assurance that we aren’t buying counterfeit or NOS. Amazon and eBay aren’t too good for that.
And herein we see the same narrow-mindedness that caused Sears to fall.
Other companies have stores, and aren’t suffering the problem Sears is. Nothing in the 21st century model rules out stores, only Static Stock. The vast majority of the current retailers offer “Ship To Store” from their online presence. If a store has the thing, that “Wait Time” is all of an hour.
You two are clinging way too hard to the Sears model, and completely forgetting that Amazon and eBay are not the ones who brought them down. Your thinking is desperately flawed. Sears REFUSED to Change. That’s why they fell. Other Retailers, Home Depot, Lowes, Home Hardware (Canadian), Canadian Tire (Canadian, again)… They changed to adapt to those needs, and are in no way in any threat of falling like Sears did.
JoeM, you must be a young guy. Before the days of Lambert, all Sears stores maintained 200‰ of their tool inventory so there was no empty spaces on the shelves and no need for ship to store option because the store had it on the floor or in the back. If you went to Sears for a specific tool, they had it and they probably had ten more in the back. The ship to store model is a new idea to reduce inventory so you don’t have to pay taexes but that is what made Sears so great is they had the inventory and that make customers happy. That is the model that changed that caused Sears to fail. They adapted their model to stores that don’t keep inventory so you have to do the stupid ship to store option. Lambert did not want to make customers happy. He wanted to make as much money as possible and paying inventory tax hurt his bottom dollar.
Let me re-iterate ALL Sear stores maintained 200% of their tool inventory. If one tool was sold that tool was replaced in inventory by the weekend. That is why people bought Craftsman. If you needed a tool, you stopped what you were doing, went to Sears, bought the tool, and drove back home to finish the project. Now you drive to three or four Home Depot’s to find it in stock or go to Lowes then end up at Harbor freight and now it is dark and you can not finish you project. Sears model was still Great before Lambert and the 99% profit margin. What is bad with 5% or 10% profit margin? Amazon would not exist if stores at inventory!
You are correct. They had in depth stock in the store and really didn’t start switching to the warehouse held inventory until 2004 or so.
Let me say it again. You cling too hard to the old way of things. You’re weighing everything on a single person to blame, but that individual would never have entered the picture if the company wasn’t ALREADY failing due to the same stubbornness.
I am 35 years old. My family shopped at Sears since long before I was born, and the company began to fail before I was born in 1982. There was a downward trend my ENTIRE LIFETIME, and this Lampert guy only took over FOUR YEARS AGO.
Your view is delusional. End of story. You’re a hyper-fanatic who is pining for days that are long gone. The Amazons, the Home Depots, and the dual-identity holding entities that can allow you to do both in-store, AND online shopping, are the way that the world has gone. Sears resisted. Sears failed. Accept the reality of this.
As to your stories of running out for things… you obviously aren’t a very prepared tool worker. If you just go out impulsively to projects all the time, only to find you aren’t prepared for it… That’s a problem with YOU, not with the Store.
And, NO… Sears Stores did not, and have not, always kept their inventory. ESPECIALLY in smaller cities in Canada. Used to live in The Village of Newcastle in Ontario, Canada. We had a Sears store. It ONLY sold from the catalog, and it took 3-6 weeks to deliver ANYTHING. Where I could walk DOWN THE STREET to a Home Hardware, and they’d have everything right there. Anything they DIDN’T have, was there by the next DAY. Go back to Newcastle TODAY, or within the past 15 years, and the Sears is gone, and the Home Hardware has moved in across the street from its old location, into a place ten times the floor space.
Or, go to Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, where I live now, and have lived since 2001 (Before your scapegoat took over, I might add) and there simply HAS NEVER BEEN a Tool Section there. Go to the Catalog counter to ORDER tools, and you’re waiting in line 4 hours MINIMUM, and it takes 2 weeks to get to the store.
Go online OR call the 800 number for Catalog Sales, and EVERYTHING arrives within 2 days. It has worked this way for as long as I have been alive, because my Father and Grandmother both had these exact same issues with THEIR Sears outlets and Catalog Sales. 35 years of negative data completely negates your boogey man Lampert as the cause of their failure. They failed because times changed, and they couldn’t handle it.
If anything, the low quality of Sears as a company has been the driving force behind me going pretty much anywhere BUT Sears for everything I own. And that’s not since 2013, when Lampert took over… That’s since my Father and Grandmother were burned by their lack of business sense… That goes back to AT LEAST the 1950’s, when my Grandparents were establishing a home for my Father who was born in 1944. Its a GENERATIONAL inheritance of the incompetency of the company. I’m not an idiot. I may be younger, but I don’t buy stupidly, or impulsively. I buy exactly the right things, exactly when I need them, and I do NOT allow a company to dictate any of those variables.
Welcome to the 21st century. Where the Customer has more CONTROL over the transaction process, and has all the research materials they could ever need, streaming straight to every Internet-Connected device available to them. Phones, TVs, Tablets, even Fridges. All connected so you can measure twice, and cut once, on all your purchases, wasting ZERO effort in the process.
Sears is Dead. Long live whatever companies thrive in its place, ready for the INFORMED consumer to keep them in business.
JoeM, being a Canadian explains the differences. You only have a concept of delivery and waiting on items.
You need to calm down!
Sad, But I Have Moved On
APPARENTLY someone IS a LITTLE bit CRANKY.
maybe YOU should GO to BED and GET some SLEEP instead OF sending POSTS with TOO many CAPITALIZATION.
I never owned an oxygen sensor socket until I needed one.
That doesn’t make me unprepared or impulsive, just a person with more sense than money.
It would be wasteful to buy tools I might never need.
Also, no mater how prepared I might be, stripping the main screw on my three jaw gear puller is not something I could predict and I don’t have the space or money to have a spare for every tool I own.
Years ago, Sears would had three on the shelf and I was out of there in a few minutes.
That is not the store I occasionally visit today.
Sears has been failing for years and the cancer was ignored for too long and the only question is when we reed the obituary.
I miss the Sears of my youth and am sad to see it gone. but I will move on.
I now buy Knipex, Wiha and PB Swiss online as I can afford them.
I stop at Harbor Freight about as often as I stop at Sears and I am OK with that.
Both stores make me sad and are depressing for different reasons.
However, I will not make an ass of myself in public.
I will not rant.
I will not rave.
I will not scream.
My mamma taught me better.
“you obviously aren’t a very prepared tool worker”
Things break. Unanticipated needs arise.
My father used to remind me never to work on certain things when stores were closed. And there were times when he had to stop working on a project to get something from the hardware store.
Lampert took over Sears in 2004 when Kmart bought the original Sears. Almost immediately he began taking a hatchet to Sears. electronics departs began disappearing, inventory was slashed, point of sale system upgrades were eliminated etc.
Sears was still massively successful in the 80’s and 90’s. Sears doesn’t get to launch Discover Card without having one of the most loyal customer bases and they were able to grow that product for almost 20 years before spinning it off.
Neil, you said it. Sears pioneered long distance buying…and then promptly handed it over to Amazon when it became a virtual shopping cart world rather than a check in an envelope model. Why? One of the great stupid moves in modern retail. The Internet world would have been an ideal setting for a robust Craftsman tool brand.
I think SBD could enjoy a much better than anticipated renaissance in Craftsman if they do two things; Bring the mechanics tools back to the USA and make them good quality and finish. Jack the prices up if necessary and make the warranty top shelf again.
Second, trim the line down a good bit. You don’t need every punch, chisel, crowbar, etc housed under the Craftsman name. Concentrate on the mechanics tools at better quality and the power tools could be placed in the Ryobi category to keep from having to go up against the ‘names’. This was the model that worked for years, no, decades for that brand and would again.
And for goodness’ sake develop a ROBUST online virtual tool world. Look at Dremel’s recent, very astute marketing of their ‘maker kits’ at the big box stores. Is it a pro’s tool kit? No. And is not intended to be. What it DOES do is capture the buyers attention. ‘Hey, that’s the kind of stuff my kid or uncle Joe could use for their jewelry making or metal working.’ And the firdt thing they do is invitemyou to their maker space online.
Craftsman left themselves with zero identity. They need to re-establish themselves as a first look for the, dare we say, upscale diy’er. As many have mentioned already, it was a dirty shame to see an American icon kicked to the gutter.
When I read the details of the details of the Craftman sale to SBD, I was surprised they let Sears run their own Craftsman branded stuff. Essentially they did not buy the brand, they paid a billion dollars for rights to use the Craftsman name. SBD had to have realized Sears would continue to jettison any regard the public has with the Craftsman name. It’ll make things even worse when SBD tries to launch their own Craftsman line. The vast majority of Americans won’t realize there is completely separate Sears Craftsman and SBD Craftsman. Sears will really hurt SBD efforts to revive the brand, so I thought it very odd SBD would agree to that deal. Seems like it would have been much smarter to work out a deal where Sears was actually selling the brand, and would stock SBD Craftsman on their shelves.
I didn’t quite see it the way you see it but I don’t know all the facts about the sale. It seemed to me Craftsman was sold to SBD but that Sears would still be able to market their own Craftsman stuff. I agree it will probably be a headache for SBD and confused customers if there are 2 different Craftsmans. The only thing I could figure was thst SBD knows Sears is on life support and it won’t be long before it’s gone al9ng with the other Craftsman. SBD is not stupid despite what they did to PC, so there was probably some underlying reasons to make the deal. Perhaps it was the only way Sears would part with it, or it is a way to transition from old Craftsman to new Craftsman. Guessing lifetime warranty is gone with SBD and anyone’s lifetime tool warranty dies with Sears.
By structuring the deal the way they did it, SBD was able to buy the brand at a discount to its “whole company” value … and implicitly bet on the demise of Sears.
SBD has stated their intent to honor all Craftsman lifetime warranty claims.
I’ll believe that when I see it. Their statement on it so far is vague and open ended.
Amazon should have bought the Craftsman brand and rebuilt it as its own. I can imagine a Craftsman”store” within Amazon being popular.
Absent a real, physical Sears store to buy tools from, Amazon is going to be the next place to look. I’m not too keen on ordering stuff online outside of Amazon Prime, and I suspect I’m not alone in that.
Kenmore appliances are being sold on Amazon, I expect that once Stanley has Craftsman product available, you will see them showing up on Amazon as well, and even at a lot of other retailers who never carried Craftsman before, either.
Craftsman has gotten way too gimmicky with their tools. I just want solid craftmanship that I can rely on. They took simple tools and made them a pain in the ass to use. My oldest craftsman tools are still my best. They are a little dinged up but they are always reliable. My newest craftsman tools that I got suckered into by flashy commercials are either broken or unused. So I’ve moved on. My grandfather used to make his own tools. He would laugh at all the crap out there.
Get back to basics. Solid American made craftmanship. That’s how they got their name.
Sears is an enigma lately. They’ve recently been literally giving me anywhere from $8-13 per week (e.g. $12 off of $12 or more). Since I am pretty much of the same opinion (unhappy mostly with how they’ve treated the Craftsman brand and its customers), I’ve made a point of using this free money to buy what I know to be any remaining US-made Craftsman, Lisle, Channellock, etc. tools on Sears’ dime. Actually went in the store the other day, instead of just the pickup area, and about half the lights were off in the tool section. It would be bizarre, if it were not so obvious why….
Yeah, that’s a good chunk of why they’ve been losing money the last few years.
Giving stuff away for free isn’t a good way to make a profit…
USA Today article on Edie Lampert. “How Sears CEO Lampert cashes in as stores cash out”
Deceptive (though catchy) headline. He is the primary secured lender to Sears … in a liquidation he is first in line to get paid back … likely at a (substantial) discount to the original loan. Alternatively, he can credit bid the assets he wants and take ownership. Regardless, since he purchased the debt at par, there is no scenario where he “cashes in”.
Gary, you sure you are not a Lambert fan? Lambert has and is cashing in on Sears closing. He is doing exactly what he has done with his other acquisitions.
1. Eddie Lampert did not cause the decline of Sears.
2. The decline of Sears began in the early 1970’s. That is when Sears began to lose market share to specialty stores and the growing number of big box stores. The WWII generation came back from WWII and furnished their new suburbia with so many things from Sears. In the early 1970’s, the children of the WWII generation began leaving home and Sears was not the go to place. The WWII generation was no longer furnishing homes, buying clothes for their kids, filling boxes of tools etc., they already had what they needed.
3. Sears earnings growth began to decline around 1973. The companies foray into credit cards(Discover) and finance/real estate helped to cover the fact that same store sales were stagnant, but it could not be covered forever. Lowes, Home Depot, Circuit City and a few others drained away Sears appliance sales. Lowes and HD took tool sales as well as lawn care sales. Women’s clothing was never a big revenue generator for Sears, but even those sales got worse starting with the baby boomers as they turned to other outlets for fashion.
4. When Eddie Lampert became chairman over the combined Sears/Kmart, he took over a retailer that had already been in decline for 30 years.
You are correct, However Eddie is the final nail in the coffin. He bought K-mart from the bankruptcy court and was able to emerge from bankruptcy with an enormous cash horde( more cash on hand than Walmart had at the time). He then made the mistake using that cash horde to purchase Sears.
He has been in the process the last few years of executing a slow controlled shut down of both. Look for the the bankruptcy filing to occur shortly after all existing loans extended by Eddie to Sears Holdings have been repaid. Others are also correct that all valuable real estate has been transferred to one of Eddies shell companies.
I’ve told this story many times, but it’s worth repeating.
I didn’t realize the value of owning tools and the joy of doing things yourself until a few years ago (mind you, I’m about to hit 40). The first brand that came to mind was, naturally, Craftsman. It’s what my dad owned. It’s what my grandfathers bought when they came to this country. So I started buying Craftsman. And then I dealt with the stupidity of the website, the ineptitude and arrogance of their customer service staff — in-store and else where — and realized that these were NOT the tools my dad and grandfathers owned, instead, they were just the same mass-produced imported stuff everybody else offered. But here’s the thing … Craftsman’s core demographic wasn’t the high-end tradesman or mechanic or what-have-you; it was the homeowner, weekend warrior, DIYer and most of them don’t really care were a tool is made. The problem, ultimately, wasn’t that Craftsman shipped production overseas, it’s that they continued to charge the premium prices and think the customer would be dumb enough to not notice. Add that to the horrific experience one gets shopping at Sears, Sears.com or the idiot-grade Shop Your Way portal … it’s no wonder the brand has lost its luster. Even if SBD moves production back, the damage is done.
On the bright side, this makes me chuckle a little because I used to date a Craftsman PR gal who tried to extol to me the high level of quality Craftsman offered. Even after my belt sander started on fire the first time I used it.
So … hahahah to you, ma’am.
The demise of Sears & the Sears craftsman brand didn’t seem inevitable until Eddie Lampert became the ceo. I think what killed craftsman was that they sold out for overseas production. You have to remember that Dewalt, Milwaukee and all the popular brands of today were at the bottom of the totem pole for decades due to the reputation of quality that craftsman had. Even though these brands were around too, nobody cared about what tools they had to offer because everyone wanted craftsman. Sears was the only tool store that carried other brands as well, but you would have to ask them if they had it. It wasn’t on display. Craftsman was definitely the most iconic name brand ever to be associated with American made tools. That’s why when craftsman sold out, the reputation and clout that they had for decades was ruined. Eddie has just continued to make it worse and worse not just for craftsman, but Sears. Let’s not forget he completely killed Kmart.
That was perhaps part of it.
Let’s assume that Apex Tool Group supplied the USA-made Craftsman tools, the Gearwrench tools, and the newer Craftsman “innovation” hand tools. They, Craftsman, and Sears all had full access to sales numbers. Apex new how many tools they were shipping to Sears, Sears knew how many tools they were selling.
During the many Gearwrench sales, tool sets flew off shelves while USA-made Craftsman versions sat and collected dust.
Outsourcing the USA-made Craftsman tools would have affected some sales, but that’s a small piece of it.
My guess is that they put numbers ahead of ideals, and too many decisions like that helped destroy the brand and store.
The 12V Max Nextec tools were abandoned, but I was told a few times it wasn’t the end of the line, and that they were working on exciting things. When’s the last time a new Nextec tool came out? When’s the last time a C3 tool came out?
In the meantime, competitors, like Ryobi, are soaring.
It’s “adapt or die,” but Sears and Craftsman never adapted. They tried to change, but so much of it for the worse.
I think I disagree that the damage is final to Craftsman. If SBD can really bring production back to the US and sell the tools at reasonable prices a lot of the foul ups of the past 20 or so years will be forgiven.
I have my doubts though.
I was in a Sears recently to burn up some ‘points’ they gave me, upwards of $80+ in the last couple weeks (like that doesn’t scream we don’t know how to do business), and came across some Craftsman boots. Not work boots, but tall rubber boots, that came in black w/ steel toe or brown/camo no-steel toe. Maybe it caught my eye because I have been wanting a rain/mud boot, or the odd fact it was in the tool/garden section, on a separate floor than shoes.
The box was also very American, and turned out they were made in the USA. I had never noticed them before, but seeing the reviews, they have been around a few years. After a points & sale, those were ~$10 for me. They actually fit perfect. Sears got this one right. Glad I got them before that Sears closed. When you don’t stock your brand of the most common regular digging shovel for months on end, you have supply issues. I had been wanting to buy one with those pesky points, but stores I *might* go by never had it.
The only Sears worth going in are the Hometown imo, though most don’t have a choice anymore. Mostly knowledgeable staff, and so much better stocked, sometimes with the better made versions. Just picked up a German made brad point drill bit set for $10 on clearance / free after points.
free money = stupid Eddy. He has taken less business classes that me, and I’ve taken one that I dropped in the first 2 weeks.
Twenty years from now analysts – perhaps a Harvard Business School case study – will analyze the demise of Sears. Starting with their rise to be the giant of the catalog business, fueled by the expansion of the USA in the 19th. Century and railroads bringing goods to masses of underserved customers in places where bricks and mortar stores were small and few and far between. The rise and fall of big stand-alone stores and the DIY movement starting with the USA’s remarkable growth after WWII gave a tremendous boost to Sears – selling tons of Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools. The rise of malls made their stand alone store concept less relevant/profitable and their clothing/dry goods business less profitable as consumers had more choice at the malls. Enter Home Depot and Lowes – with expanding tool sales and selling much more project related goods (like lumber) and the attraction for visiting a Sears store declined even more. Sourcing Craftsman tools from cheaper offshore sources – to compete with many (if not most) of the other brands that had already done so did not help – and maybe hurt by angering a loyal customer base that wanted to continue to buy-American. Then with Amazon coming on strong coupled with mismanagement Sears’ slide into oblivion seems complete. Naturally, anything remotely valuable (Kenmore, and Craftsman brands plus real estate gets sold off.
Yeah , Sears only lasted what a hundred years? Pretty good run dude
Yep – staring to do business in 1886 – they were a lot more than just a flash in the pan.
Saturday, I needed a 24mm 6pt socket. Sears and Autozone are on the same street, about 1 mile apart. Instead of turning left to Sears, I went right to Autozone. Paid $6 for a Duralast socket made in China w/ lifetime warranty instead of $9 for a Craftsman socket made in China w/ lifetime warranty.
Harbor Frieght Tools…priced to sell…they have a decent return policy…they have online coupons which save you $$$$…just go away Sears go away…
And that’s the thing, Oscar, you hit the nail on the head:
For *most* consumers — who aren’t accomplished, serious, professional tradespeople — that HF wrench or socket will do the job somebody needs right this moment (fixing a sink, assembling crappy IKEA furniture, etc etc). And now that Craftsman has been almost completely outsourced, how does one know whether or not the difference in quality is there enough to differentiate between a $50 socket/wrench/pliers set or one that can be picked up for $20 plus a 20 percent off coupon. Just makes no sense to me how they went forward with that business model.
It’s a far cry from the days of Hawkeye & BJ building an artificial kidney out of the catalog.
Please dude, Sears was in a different world than the junk store that is HF,
I remember at one time you could order a house from the Sears catalog and have it delivered on site.The best was the Christmas catalog, my kids made their Christmas list from the catalog. I recently visited my local Sears and I thought I was in a second hand store. The tool shelves were bare some tools here and there,not like it was at one time.
When I read the nonsense Sears had started several years ago about tweaking the bionic wrench (made by Loggerhead tools) and producing it overseas, I wrote the company and requested an explanation of their reasoning. I received no response from sears. Decisions such as these along with the terrible online experience and putrid customer service as noted in the article prompted my decision to completely stop shopping at Sears. It was clear Sears management steered toward the “cheap” rather than focus on their customers who desired high quality tools made in the USA. I am happy Loggerhead tools won their patent infringement case. As for Sears–Good Riddance.
Wow, you were the only guy left defending Sears and you have finally come to your senses , sad to see an icon go but this has been coming for a long time.
I’ve always had my senses.
I’ve simply run out of all hope for them.
Sears has been going down for about 20 years. That was when I first noticed their service was in decline. They did an excellent job of exploiting (milking) their reputation, employees, and suppliers… right to the bitter end. Sears Canada is having a going out of business sale at most of their stores. I don’t think I will be there.
I will be keeping my old 30 year old Craftsman sockets sets, pliers and screwdrivers… along with my 100 year old Stanley planes.
I am a third generation Craftsman customer I have sets that my Grandfather and Dad used. I bought my son a full set of Craftsman tolls when he started Tech school. I really hate whats happened to the Craftsman line.
My hopes are like all of you that SBD will bring it back to the US and make quality tools affordable.
Target Canada and Sears Canada died for very different reasons.
Target as in trouble from almost day 1 as their vision was extremely ambitious but I don’t think it was overly realistic. Their failure hinged on moving into a completely new country while attempting to do a complete overhaul of their inventory management system. To do 1 of these tasks in a year was ambitious, to do both, while also working with new logistics and everything else was a disaster.
Their prices weren’t really competitive with anyone, not like they were in the US, and their shelves were often lacking, so even if the price was good, availability was hit and miss. Both those things tied back to problems with their inventory management system that never worked properly.
http://www.macleans.ca/economy/business/what-really-happened-at-target-canada-the-retailers-last-days/ is a really good, fairly in-depth, overview of their failure.
Sears seems to be death by incompetence. The local Sears has been a flagship store at our mall since it opened in 1971. Unfortunately, it also looks exactly as it did in 1971, except it hasn’t aged overly well. Ceiling tiles are water stained, the racking and everything is most likely original. Around a decade ago the mall also recieved a Sears Home store. Sears Home is actually quite nice. Nice furniture, appliances, and other “Home” things. It’s quite nice. I’ve actually bought stuff there. Their warranty is the best and they price match. The issue was overlap. The crappy Sears still had some “Home” stuff, which didn’t make sense to me. But things got weirder.
About 5 years ago Sears Canada killed their electronics department. Rather than expanding their Tool Dept or focusing on something unique to Sears, they added a Mattress Dept to their normal store…. There’s a large Mattress section in the Home store… I thought this was a very odd strategy, but hey, I’m just an average Canadian.
The Sears store is so bad that the mall now has a rule that all new tenants must do renovations every 10 years.
I won’t miss Sears, but I may miss Sears home.
It’s unfortunate but I don’t believe that many people under 30 have ever been to the store by choice. They had good tools and stuff once upon a time, but I know 3 people who have Craftsman mowers that have all been replaced multiple times. The only time my Toro doesn’t start is if it’s out of fuel.
If they had done something like going to a Home Depot or Lowes and wanting to sell Craftsman and Kenmore brands, I wonder if we’d be in the same place we are today. That would have had to happen before the brands were diluted.
There are several reasons for Sears’ demise but I’ll try and show Timeline reminders. I also will add-in the aspects affecting the Craftsman brand (Apologies for the length):
2005 – Kmart Corp and CEO Eddie Lampert bought and merge Kmart and Sears and created Sears Holdings Corp, for 11b. Sale started in 2004, concluded in 2005.
2007 – The Washington Post, in a March 11, 2007, article, described the current Sears as a hedge fund with money being diverted from the maintenance and improvement of stores to non-retail financial investments. I can personally attest to this.
2009 – Sears makes a move to procure sockets and wrenches through Apex Tool Group primarily overseas in replacement of Danaher’s U.S. production. Pliers/Screwdrivers and some Specialty tools are still rebranded from Ideal’s Western Forge and Lisle respectively.
2012 – Sears Holdings spun-off 235+ of its properties into a new REIT. The REIT will be called Seritage Growth Properties and is a company majority owned by Edward Lampert. The package of properties is backed by a $925 million loan from JP Morgan Chase Bank. The 235 properties amount to a total of 37.1 million square feet of space. The stores are mainly Sears and Kmart locations spread across the country and Puerto Rico.
2014 – Sears produces its last Tool Catalog.
2016 – KCD ip LLC formed. Kenmore/Craftsman/DieHard. This was promoted as an idea to grow the brands, but many insiders including myself believe this was created to market the brands to increase value and then to sell.
Late 2016 and early 2017, some significant steps were taken by Edward Lampert, president, CEO and top shareholder of Sears Holding Corp. Lampert, w/ personal assets est @ $2b, is also the founder and manager of the hedge fund ESL Investments Inc. He provided a loan of $500m to the company and said he would provide letters of credit to Sears for additional amounts, reportedly totaling $200m and possibly increasing to a half billion dollars in the future.
January 9, 2017, Sears announced that it had reached an agreement to sell the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker for $900 million, plus royalties on new Craftsman sales for a 15-year period. During this period, Sears will continue selling Craftsman products royalty-free under a licensing agreement. The Craftsman Catalog and design is solely controlled by SBD. Sears is control of what they will carry in stores and online.
Mid 2017 – Sears Holdings removed Apex/Western Forge Pliers (Majority U.S. Made) from their shelves to receive the SBD procured Pliers. The design is very similar to SBD’s Irwin Pliers brand.
Sears Holdings reportedly owes the Pension Fund 2+ Billion Feb 2018. Sears Holdings will most assuredly declare bankruptcy in January after Holiday Returns (My Prediction).
In 2010 Sears/Kmart operated 3555 stores. Today there is less than 1430. All should keep in mind;
1. Sears was already on a downward trend which is why Eddie and Kmart could afford to buy it.
2. The Sears Culture in Senior and Mid-Level Management was already archaic. poor, and siloed. Actually behind that of Kmart.
3. Edward Lampert is a Hedge Fund Manager and Real Estate guru, not a Retailer.
4. Craftsman Brand was never more than a “Tool” for Sears to use, it was never a concern to save the brand name.
The Western Forge-made pliers have been removed from the shelves in favor of Apex-made pliers … SBD has not yet created any Craftsman-labeled products.
Purchased a tool chest set 2 years ago during a Black Friday sale. Upon setup at home, the top unit did not sit flat. I didn’t realize this for over a year as it was boxed up on my garage for some time.
Calling Sears & Craftsman, no one knew what to do. It has a 6 year warranty.
I finally just showed up the Sears with it, knowing they had a replacement in stock. The kid working tools asked a manager and the manager just said to call Craftsman. He tried once and got disconnected. He asked ME to call for him. So, I did. The rep at Craftsman couldn’t believe the employee asked me to call, and couldn’t figure out why he needed to call.
They replaced it, 2 hours later.
Never buying anything from either again.
To think, Sears corporation used to own the tallest building in the known world (it held the title for 25 years!). Sears was the largest retailer in the United States for many years. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
From Woolworths to Sears to Wal-Mart to Amazon…I wonder who will wear the retail crown next?
Oh, Sears. Where do I start?
I grew up knowing Craftsman hand tools were among the best. It was all my dad used, and his dad before him. So of course when I started a collection of tools, Sears was where I went. Mainly because of the lifetime warranty. I have had pleasant success with replacing broken tools no questions asked, but any more, I basically never set foot in the store. Sure, if I’m at the mall and my wife is looking around the women’s clothing stores I’ll take my boys and wander around Sears but it’s mainly to kill time.
If they wanted to truly succeed, I believe they should get back to the basics. Get rid of jewelry counters and photo studios and so on (unless they rake in a ton of profits which I doubt). Sell rock-solid tools that truly will last a lifetime.
I buy each of my sons one tool for Christmas, and I keep a log of them. By the time they are old enough to move out, or even old enough to work on their bicycle, they’ll have a decently stocked tool box (yes, the first thing I bought each of them was a tool box). So far it’s all been Craftsman, but honestly it’s because even though the brand isn’t what it used to be, I don’t have the heart to buy something else. If my son’s pliers breaks when he’s 50, and it’s the one dad got him when he was 2, I want him to still be able to take it back and get a new one.
I recently went through my grandfather’s house to photograph/document everything, as he’s in an assisted living place with Alzheimers, so family members could see what was in his house and start the process of asking for any wanted/memorable items. Grandpa retired from the railroad, not an engineer or conductor, but a welder and freight car repairman and foreman. His garage is full of Craftsman tools. Those were about the only items I put my name on, partly for the memories and partly because I know they’ll outlast me. He’s got an ancient but huge Craftsman welder in there too that was tempting to ask for.
But as for Sears itself? The last time I bought something there was when my wife got me a gift card for my birthday or Fathers day or something like that. I didn’t have the heart to tell her “Thanks honey, but Sears stuff kinda sucks these days.” I ended up poking around their (HORRID) web site and found a couple tools I didn’t yet own, did the ship-to-store thing and it was an OK experience. I went in there this summer looking for a new pair of shoes because I keep getting those Sears points things clogging my e-mail but they had none in my size in stock and none that interested me. I ended up getting some at WalMart because they had my size in stock.
They need to get Craftsman back to the point where customers are proud to show off their collection. I walk into my dad’s garage and it’s wall-to-wall Craftsman, but he bought them 20, 30 or 40 years ago when there weren’t really other options. At least Ace Hardware sells Craftsman, so if I do need something I’ll go there. It’s a smaller store, 5 minutes from my house, and I don’t have to deal with the whole mall hassle which I despise. But Ace’s own hand tools also carry a lifetime warranty and are priced a bit less than the Craftsman ones.
There is one area though where Sears shines. Parts. Their online parts department apparently stocks parts from more than just Kenmore or Craftsman brands. I found parts for an old clothes dryer, parts for an old Craftsman lawn mower, parts for an ancient Kenmore deep freeze, etc. And the exploded parts diagrams for even old items are wonderful.
Most of the appliance brands are made by the same mfrs, using the same internal parts, with a few levels of quality. That’s why you can get Maytag parts at Sears, Kenmore/Whirlpool parts from Home Depot, or any number of online stores. They all come from the same places and are mostly interchangeable.
You need to go back in history to learn how Sears conducted business before they had tools, appliances, and some clothing lines.
The business plan was simple, but ruthless.
Begin ordering small quantities of product “x” from, let’s say, Craftman Tool Company. Continue to expand purchases slowly until Craftman reaches capacity issues. At this point, place an annual order which exceeds their capacity by 50% plus. Enter into an agreement which demands full capacity by xxxx date.
Craftsman falls behind and Sears puts price pressure on all existing inventory.
Once Craftsman is in a corner. Cancel all orders…..then offer to buy the Company.
What goes around comes around and Sears deserves everything coming to the management that runs it now.
It was expected to happen. Today’s millennials will buy the cheapest thing if they don’t know why one product is worth more than another, assuming they made a good decision and refusing to reconsider after they paid their money.
Sears had to cut corners to compete, so they not only lost the millennial buyers but also the next older generation.
The nail in the coffin was the inevitable impossibility of guaranteed for life tools. The longer you sell them, the greater your replacement liability becomes.
Sears went out of business due to Harbor Freight and Amazon. Simple as that.
Well, I have bought Craftsman for 30 years and I think I brought back 4 tools because they were worn out and talking to Sears associates 15 years ago when they knew your name that was average. Quality!
My Dad was a truck mechanic, having mostly Craftsman tools, as did most of his co-workers. When my brother and I were around 10 and 12, we got a full toolbox each of Craftsman tools.
Our garage was completely Craftsman….power tools, welders, everything. Ditto for Kenmore appliances.
Seems we went as a family to a free-standing Sears store at least once a month as I was growing up in the 50s and 60s.
When I recently cleaned out the estates of everyone (I’m the last man standing), The all the Craftsman stuff dating back to the late ’40s is what I kept and treasured.
I still have most of the things from that Christmas.
Harbor Freight is getting better, they do serve a segment of the market.
Here in Portland Oregon the big Sears store is in a big mall…..who wants to go there? There is a Sears outlet next to a Kmart, and another free-standing outlet store. Not much in the way of tools.
Ace Hardware handles a small assortment, which is easier to visit.
I haven’t been to the mall store in several years.
Sad to see what is happening.
No reason to go to Portland. I know the management in the area. Worst Regional Facilities Manager ever takes care of that store which is why you would find it in poor condition.
The sentiments and insights expressed here are indeed revealing. It might be a good idea to note that there are some market factors that make “continuing the tradition” difficult.
For one thing, since the late 1980s there has been a dramatic de-industrialization of the U.S. Various analysts report that over 70% of the U.S. industrial infrastructure has been gutted…and [short of a war] probably can’t return within the space of a generation even if the political and economic climate were more favorable. Much of the remaining employment is just plantation slots – i.e., expendable employees, relatively non-meaningful jobs, keepalive wages and no potential for upward mobility. Thus, even people with skills and ambition have no discretionary cash to “keep the dream alive” in their *avocational* pursuits, and won’t be purchasing Craftsman tools despite a strong interest.
Another contributing factor is the concurrent “decline of knowledge” associated with a dying national pool of skilled labor. Home Depot reportedly discovered that the reason for a sharp falloff in their “under 30” customer base was because most Millennials have no blue collar skills. Accordingly, HD has spent millions hosting in-store workshops and producing short videos on such subjects as “how to use a tape measure,” “how to hammer a nail” and “how to mop a floor.” These individuals are the near future, but they likely won’t be shopping for Craftsman tools.
Recently I used the chaotic Shop Your Way feature in a search for simple twill work shirts. Sears used to offer these in short and long sleeves, regular and tall, in four colors, for $9-10. On the first pass I got over half a million hits. However, after drilling down there were fewer than 50 hits. Most were for polo shirts…and none were for work shirts as we have known them.
The above evidences a shift in economics and demographics that is arguably too severe to defibrillate a namesake…or to exhume its legacy. Nostalgia may be the closest we can come.
The website is still a mess. The Capcha on login regularly disappears, and while it’s gone, nobody can log in.
If you put a $ (dollar sign) in the notes of an order, it will fail. (Perl anyone?)
They fix one thing and something else falls apart.
And the database… search doesn’t work because the database is fubar.
Find an individual (open stock) socket and search for the title without the size. You’ll get only half of the set. The other half has all manner of different titles. Same with the Nupla-made 1,2,3 lb Craftsman impact hammers. One has a title wildly different than the rest. This has been going on for years. Fix it? Nah.
On the flip side, Amazon used to allow anyone to submit product and picture corrections (for consideration) on practically all of their pages. The product description link is now turned off. Scammers regularly steal the buy box of items, lower the price and steal the money. Now that they are in a position of dominance, they are slipping at their core competancy. But they have light years to fall before their site is as miserable as Sears.
Your catalog is coming back Stuart! I decided to hit the consumerist up, after seeing it mentioned in your ‘Comment Call-Out’ article comments.
Thanks, I hadn’t seen that yet!
Unfortunately, I think it’s too little too late.
That’s also not the tool catalog, it’s likely going to be a “little of everything” sales flyer of sorts.
Looking at the digital “Wish Book” right now. Yep, I was right.
There are 12 pages dedicated to tools:
75, 76: A Craftsman tape measure
77: Miter saw and workbench
78: Impact wrench, drill/driver accessory set, hammer, C3 kit
And the links? The accessory set looks new to me, but the link leads to a listing of several dozen other accessory sets.
79: Craftsman Pro Series “Smart Security” products which gave Ben lots of problems and hasn’t gotten any better since (https://toolguyd.com/craftsman-pro-smart-lock-tool-storage-combo-review/)
80: Craftsman and Gladiator garage storage
81: Craftsman garage door opener
82: Some Craftsman mechanics tools
83: Air compressor, vacuum, air tool kit, mechanics tool set
84: Some Diehard stuff, Craftsman creeper, jack, jack stands, other automotive accessories
85, 86: Lawn and garden tools
This a far cry from the holiday tool gift guide catalogs they had just a few years ago, which were choc-full of Craftsman tools and other tool brands.
Sears has had major problems with its biggest Craftsman tool suppliers, and there’s little chance that new ones will take big risks with them.
Mike (the other one)
If I were SBD, I’d revamp the entire line of Craftsman tools, focusing on mechanics tools. All USA made, all at reasonable prices.
I’d also think about opening an online or even brick and mortar tool store called Craftsman. Basically like Harbor Freight, but selling quality tools instead of fume-laden Chinese junk.
Toolguyd is my favorite for information on tools plus It’s always interesting to read the comments. I started buying from Sears over 40 years ago but stopped in the early 90’s for a simple reason that my local store was a pathetic joke for tools. Every time I wanted a tool they were out & I started hearing that they would rip off/copy tool designs. So many company brands have either gotten better or turn to junk like SBD,HD, & Case. I don’t have any real brand preference but I do have a lot that I don’t like. Buy the product not the brand name. Sears-Craftsman & Kmart have been dead for years but they didn’t realize it .
Sears can’t die fast enough for me. The leadership wanted to sell the property so they killed off the stores. It’s famous news in the financial world. K-mart should die too. The merger was the beginning of the end.
Don’t fix Sears, bury it. I get my appliances online via Amazon for less money and they come straight to my house, including quality brands Sears didn’t carry like Speed Queen. I check reviews online anyway so a few seconds to order is effortless.
I’m old and don’t miss the “good old days” even slightly. I can get any quality of tool I want from expendable to industrial without leaving my shop. Hardware too; I can price check (don’t forget Ebay stores) and save time, fuel and money. The best thing they can do with most brick and mortar stores is bulldoze them then run the bricks and mortar through the crusher. Heck, get the parking lots too. I love crushed asphalt!
Is the Craftsman 3 D Sander still being sold?
Are the 3 set sanding discs still available?
I’m an (old) self proclaimed “toolaholic”. I cut my teeth at an early age buying Craftsman tools. It kills me to walk through a Sears tool Department now. I couldn’t agree more with the other comments on this site. Sears seems to me, atleast ,to have shot themselves in their own foot. I feel that my hands are tied being a Sears customer if they don’t do atleast a little “marketing”.
It’s amazing how this company caters to a type of customers that buy cheap and trash the store. These people don’t care. Go back to your roots and start at the basics SEARS company. Qualities of goods and customer service are still king.
Another thing, why did two company that are failure merge together (Sears and Kmart).
Stephen P Roberts
I miss the old Craftsman tools. They belong in Sears stores.
I use to go Sears every payday and buy tools. Last time I saw
a Craftsman Tool Catlog I had over half of the tools. I am also
counting some tools that are not made any more.
I do not buy Craftsman Tools any more.
I couldn’t agree more. As an old homeowner and lifelong “tool aholic” ,it hurts to walk through Sears now. Their Tool Territory has turned into Tool Alcove! I can understand the completion in today’s marketplace but in my opinion, Sears has failed to rise to the challenge. Their marketing seems to have thrown in the towel. I can’t remember when the last time I received a Craftsman flyer in my newspaper. It seems to me that they have chosen to shoot themselves in their own foot. Also, their tool department used to staffed by a seasoned, experienced personnel . Now all the (tool) customer gets is a part-time cashier!
I disagree with a lot of what’s being said here. I’ve been buying Sears and Craftsman tools, etc. for over 40 years – my first charge account was with Sears. Yet, I stopped buying from them about 20 years ago. Why – it started with power tools that failed way too early – my belt sander, jig saw, drill and welding torches. Nearly new ratchets and tools failed – not acceptable, even with a life-time warranty, especially when the local stores closed and the nearest one was a 15 mile drive. Then there was the band saw with it’s failed digital readout and various other hardware failures. The final straws came when our $390 Kenmore Vacuum failed one month after the warranty expired followed by the 5 year old Kenmore dishwasher that caused an electrical issue, completely frying a wire nut in the junction box. Anyone who blames Amazon and other online retailers or says they aren’t workable purchase solution is nuts. I can buy a quality item and have it in 2 days – if there’s a problem I just return it at their expense. Sears on the other hand started refusing returns on Sears and Craftsman products unless you had a receipt – totally backwards. Speaking of backwards – the KMart brand was basically associated with cheap, while Sears had been associated with high quality. Merging the two was stupid, unless it was meant to acknowledge the decline in Sears quality. Sears will soon be gone. With any foresight, they should have been the Amazon of this century, playing of the things that made them great, but they missed the boat. Sad!
Sears used to have permanent employees who knew their products and valued their customers. Some would even tell you when a big ticket item was going to be on sale. Sears, Craftsman and Kenmore products were tops. Then the Ivy leaguers took over, built the tallest building ion Chicago, reduced commissions and pay of the people on the floor and gave themselves bonuses while hiring temps who couldn’t have cared less. I watched several people walk out without paying and the temps at the register didn’t even flinch. In other words, the suits got rich and the floor people got floored
Agree, Sears is sad. I just got back from my local Sears store. I bought a couple of Craftsman wrenches. I am a second generation Craftsman tool guy, a trait I inherited from my father. So I go to the Craftsman tool section on a Saturday afternoon Sadly, when I asked the checkout girl a question about the wrench, I get the deer- in -the headlight stare. No tool guys. Maybe I expect too much these days. That and the tools are made in China. Craftsman used to stand for something but I am afraid those days are long gone.
I am sad for Sears. I started buying Craftsman tools in 1986 to work on my car. I didn’t make much money but wanted Craftsman tool quality. I tried cheap tools that broke the first time used, I also tried paying someone else to work on my car but soon realized I couldn’t afford to do that so I amassed an enviable Craftsman tool collection of good U.S. made tools. At one time in the middle to end 1990’s I seemed to buy almost everything from Sears. I went in every week even if I didn’t need anything and usually ended up leaving with something. Back then my Sears store was busy everyday and crazy busy on the weekends. Then the cheap China tools started to show up. For awhile you needed to watch close where the tools was made but it only got worse to the point that only pliers and screwdrivers were U.S. made. This turned me from even looking at the new tools anymore and that is why I was there in the first place. Sears lost most of my business because of this. Tools got me to Sears which led to buying lawn mowers both riding and push, rototillers, snowblowers, generators, sump pumps, tool chests, table saws, tools and much more. Now my Sears is closing and it is a sad day that has been coming since about 2005 when Edward Lampert and the China made tools came. Sears is nothing like it use to be when they had good tools to bring people into the store, Sears stores are like ghost towns now.
Hi Tool Guy
Thanks for the great story or should I say sad story. Beginning as a very young kid I had family members that worked and retired at Sears. Everyone has felt the same way as you and I. It shows you what crappy management can do. When all the focus is on their wages, bonuses, stock options and all off me me me business there was little time left in the day to spend worrying about that other pain, Sears. What’s a ceo to do…
My shop is wall to wall with Craftsman tools. These are tools that I’ve owned since before the wheel was invented. I still buy if I can find a store and if the store has any inventory to sell. I do avoid tools that incorporate too much plastic however as sure is life I will drop it at least once in 50 years.
Sorry I should have started with my question. Because all relatives that worked for Sears have now passed I no longer have a source to ask what company built a certain product for Sears at the time. I have a Craftsman 1/2 sheet sander/polisher ( a vibrating sander ) Sears model 110.7800. I bought this sander new in around 1952. It recently stopped working. If I knew who made the sander I could cross reference part numbers to see if I can buy what I need. More often than not some of the same parts are used to build new machines and at some point they give the part a new number. This is especially true with auto parts. I needed to rebuild the engine and tranny in my old 1937 Dodge, the same car I used trying to get lucky with my girlfriend. Unfortunately I had to marry her first and still married today. I took in pistons and bearings into one of the “real” auto parts stores. The old boy looked and told me to come with him in the back. He told me this looks like part number bla bla, sure enough they matched. With this smart guy breaking the secret code I walked out of there with a few hundred pounds of parts, way more than I was going to buy that day. With everything I bought I was able to go thru everything with new parts in hand.
If you have any thoughts on how to locate the manufacturer I would really appreciate it.
Thank you!!! Dean
Craftsman was never a top brand. It was a budget brand with decent quality for the price. I’ve got a set of adjustable wrenches, made in the US by Western Forge, and while I don’t expect them to fall apart, they are mediocre at best. I’d trade them for good Taiwanese stuff any day (if you really want to know, the best ones are made in Spain [Irega]).
To understand what happened to Sears and Craftsman, you should stop mixing your tender feelings (grandpa tales and the like) with reality. Michael Moore said it very clearly in one of his documentaries: after WWII, most infrastructure around the world was destroyed, so the US enjoyed a lack of real competition for decades. USA stuff was considered top of the line simply because there was nothing else.
Sears and Craftsman declined for the very same reason most other US companies declined: because they now face real competition. Some taiwanese stuff is as good (if not better) than stuff made in the US, but it often sells for half the price or less. For the same amount of money China can produce better tools than the US, but you won’t see them in the stores because people do not want to pay big bucks for something stamped “Made in China”.
“Good tools” are budget tools with decent quality for the price. They just don’t happen to be Craftsman or made in the US anymore.
I was at Lowes the other day, and they had a huge selection of Craftsman tools. I mean a whole section of them. I have no idea about if they still have the lifetime warranty though.
This comment is so far down in the thread and the article is almost two years old, I wonder why I am even taking the time to write. Maybe it will help someone…
If you have Craftsman tools that were bought before the brand sale and need them replaced, you are absolutely out of luck. Don’t waste your time. Going into a Sears store (if you can find one still open) results in preprinted instructions on how to contact Crafsman directly by phone. However, there is NO human to talk to there.The automated prompts ask where you bought the item and send you back to Sears. They, of course, are clueless on how to handle the matter, sending you back to Craftsman. Occasionally someone will offer a Sears Rewards credit, but that is about as valuable as a Blockbuster card. Maybe if you are persitant, you’ll be directed to the Sears customer relations department who never answer the phone (I actually was on hold for a full hour once before hanging up).
So sadly yes, Sears and the Craftsman lifetime warranty of even the most basic of tools are dead. Even Lowes has a thick book with product replacement hurdles that their employees use to dodge Craftsman warranties. It just isn’t worth.
My grandfather is rolling in his grave and this terrible situation makes the first hammer that he gave me as a gift when I was a teen more valuable that I could have ever imagined…
Sum Yung Gai
Forget Craftsman. Buy used Snap-On, Mac, or Matco. Craftsman lost my loyalty when they ran over to China. I do have some Craftsman tools, and I think they’re from the last of that USA-made run. Those tools remain good.
The Chinese junk, though, man…it’s sad to see what Sears did to Craftsman. They really used to be good. But that’s what happens when you look only at short-term quarterly gains.
They have lost my trust. I will not buy Craftsman now, be it from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, or my local hardware store. You just cannot trust it anymore.
Thomas U. Coe
How can I receive a current Craftsman Tool Catalog?
As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been a new Craftsman catalog in years.
I have used Craftsman tools for many years and want get a catalog to look for more tools
There haven’t been any new Craftsman catalogs for a very long time now.