I have made many trips to big box tool stores over the years, mainly Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Sears.
At some point, I started taking photos of tools and displays, usually as reminders of what I wanted to research further, for personal or ToolGuyd interests.
The images in this post were taken between 2009 and 2012. I hope you find this to be an interesting throwback!
Please forgive the quality of the photos – early smartphones didn’t have great image quality. Some of the earliest photos were taken with a mobile phone in 2008 or 2009, and don’t have accurate date stamps – I’ve marked them as being taken in 2009 for simplicity.
To start things off, I came across a Milwaukee M12 promo combo kit at Home Depot in 2010, featuring a cordless drill and radio. I don’t think Milwaukee had another promo package like this since then. Next to it is a Milwaukee corded rotary hammer.
Milwaukee’s cordless tool promos changed the following year. That’s when I started tracking the Black Friday and holiday deals on ToolGuyd.
At around the same time, Ryobi still had their Tek4 3.6V/4V line of compact and personal cordless tools and accessory.
Ryobi discontinued the Tek4 line a long time ago, but I wonder how well it might have sold today. Milwaukee’s RedLithium USB line certainly seems to be selling well.
Not only does the Dewalt drill kit on the shelf feature NiCad battery tech, it’s not even 18V – it’s a 14.4V model!
There’s also a Milwaukee corded angle grinder.
Milwaukee corded power tools and Dewalt 14.4V NiCad drills – what a throwback.
Home Depot’s 2008 or 2009 holiday season deals section featured Husky, Dewalt, Ryobi tools – which still had a blue color scheme at the time, and Porter Cable.
This 2009 holiday season Husky multi-cartridge ratcheting screwdriver was a memorable offering. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and I recall unsuccessfully looking for it again the following year.
Back in 2009, Lowe’s had this Dremel project kit, which came with a 300 series rotary tool and mini benchtop worktable. That compact Workmate-like worktable seemed like a neat design.
Back in 2009, Lowe’s put this Bosch 14.4V cordless drill on clearance. What’s the greyish model below it – maybe Porter Cable?
I came across this Kobalt technician’s tool case at Lowe’s in 2009.
I talked about Vaughan’s ball peen hammers in a recent post. They looked just a little different back in 2009. In the 13+ years since then, the pricing has only increased by a few dollars.
Dewalt’s magnetic ToughCase hit stores back in 2010. The same set is still available!
This isn’t a retail store snapshot – it’s a photo of some of the then-newly-announced Dewalt 12V Max cordless power tools.
Dewalt brought us to Stanley Black & Decker’s private box seats at a Baltimore Orioles game for dinner, and I couldn’t not take a photo ahead of the next day’s media event.
I posted about the launch that very night, and I remember a couple of comments about the beer can the next morning. Sorry, I thought it would be convenient for scale!!
I really enjoyed those early Dewalt media events.
Here’s the selection of Knipex tools at a Sears store back in 2011, plus Knipex-made Craftsman Cobra pliers.
In 2010, a Sears store near me had a “Blue Tool Crew” innovation station. They tried different things over the years, but never really stuck with any one strategy.
Sears had a great tool buyer or team of buyers back then. In 2011, I spotted ToughBuilt folding bolt cutters at a local store.
In 2010, I found BenchDog bench cookie work supports at a Sears store.
Does anyone else remember Black & Decker outlet stores? I visited this store before they all closed in 2012.
Sears loved their all-in-one tools over the years, didn’t they. Here’s a Craftsman “figure 8 universal wrench” from 2012.
And here’s a Craftsman hybrid ratcheting wrench set at Sears, also in 2012. The open end had a ratcheting bit inside.
There were a lot of these gimmicks – multi-do-everything socket ends, x-in-one wrenches, sockets, and drive tools, and so forth.
Black & Decker’s Matrix modular cordless power tool line was innovative and practical for DIYers. This was a Home Depot display in 2012.
Here’s an airplane fuselage traveling down a small road an on oversized flatbed truck in 2011. They were transporting US Airways Flight 1549 – the plane that Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles piloted into the Hudson River after hitting a flock of birds shortly after takeoff.
This isn’t the most surprising thing I’ve seen transportation-wise. Back in high school, I was sitting on a large window sill in the school library during my lunch period, and an aircraft carrier appeared in view as it slowly proceeded up the river.
Ah, one of the last versions of the dog bone wrench. This was the Craftsman “65-in-1” at Sears in 2012.
I believe it was Lowe’s that kicked off the dogbone wrench resurgence. This was their display of Kobalt Multi-Drive wrenches back in 2010.
Update – looking at ToolGuyd’s archive, it was the Black & Decker ReadyWrench that seemed to restart the dogbone wrench trend in 2009.
In 2012, Lowe’s had even more heavily-promoted and mass-produced Kobalt tools for the holiday season. These Kobalt Magnum Grip pliers didn’t seem to sell very well.
Back in 2010, Bostitch hand tools were a thing at Lowe’s. This is a ratcheting adjustable wrench with “100 year limited warranty.”
For our last break, here’s a gate I came across in 2012. I wonder if there’s a backstory, as there doesn’t seem to be any functional purpose to it.
Husky tries new things every year. These are T-handle screwdrivers at a Home Depot store in 2010. There were 8 driver sizes, plus a stubby bit holder.
Back in 2010, this Lowe’s folding knife gift set offered 25 cheap knives for just $25.
I didn’t quite understand who this was for. Is this a set of cheap knives you could gift to different people, or were you supposed to give the 25 knives to one person?
I came across Stanley FatMax wood chisels at a Lowe’s store in 2010. Unfortunately, it has become very rare for me to find made-in-England Stanley or Dewalt tools these days.
I first spotted the USA-made Plate Vise back in 2010, and bought one the next time I saw it.
While not the most useful tool for my needs, it does come in handy for cutting certain materials without the need for a complex workholding setup.
I liked Stanley’s tripod LED lights and still have one or two. This display was at a Home Depot store in 2009.
20 lumens max brightness!
I spotted this Surefire G2 LED Nitrolon flashlight at Lowe’s in 2010. I don’t recall if this was before or after I bought mine. It might have been after – this one has a 120 lumens max output, and I distinctly remember mine delivering 80 lumens max brightness.
I spotted this Simonds folding file set at a Sears store in 2009. I found similar from other brands after that – I posted about the General Tools version in 2019 – but I don’t think you can buy the same tool anymore.
I came across the Shark nail puller at a Sears store in 2009.
Curiously, there were two versions.
Ah – one was made in Japan, and the other was made in China.
I was familiar with the brand and this tool by then, and it looked like production had changed from Japan to China.
There was a time – 2009 – when Sears sold an SK ratchet alongside their Craftsman tools.
Here’s a Kobalt 24-in-1 auto-loading ratcheting screwdriver. I spotted this one at a Lowe’s store in 2012.
Ah, the Husky rotary ratcheting wrench, which launched at Home Depot in 2010.
This was the first time I caught shill commentors. I traced multiple favorable reviews and overly positive comments to an office where Husky’s OEM/importer was based.
It wasn’t Home Depot or Husky deceptively talking up the tool in comments, but the OEM or sourcing company that was contracted to produce the tool.
Here’s a Ridgid JobMax tool and attachment display at a Home Depot store in 2012.
I found this to be a particularly well-designed retail setup, especially for a temporary holiday placement.
This wall of Craftsman wet/dry shop vacuums appeared at my local Sears ahead of the 2011 holiday shopping season.
Dewalt launched this ratcheting T-handle screwdriver bit set around 2011. I spotted this one at Home Depot. Of course I bought one for myself and one for my father. I still have mine, but never really used it much.
It was 2011 when Home Depot was selling the Leatherman Wingman for $25 as a holiday season promo. The same tool is now $70.
Back in 2011, Lowe’s was promoting their new Kobalt 18V cordless power tools, and declared their superiority to Ridgid with new in-store displays.
Home Depot countered with their own Ridgid vs. Kobalt “dare to compare” advertisements.
I think that Lowe’s and Kobalt have learned their lesson, as I haven’t seen anything like this since then.
Lowe’s sold these Kobalt 1/2″ drive flex (universal-type) sockets in stores in 2012.
When is the last time these sockets were available? What’s the point of a lifetime guarantee or warranty if replacements aren’t available when you need them?
I spotted this prominent Fein MultiMaster oscillating multi-tool and accessories display at a Sears store in 2010. I remember being impressed with the selection.
This was a great endcap; brands and stores don’t really do them like this anymore.