There have been reports of Craftsman tools replacing Kobalt tools on shelves and in displays at Lowes stores. It was first brought to my attention back in September 2018, and at the time, I didn’t believe it. There have been many more reports of this happening, and I naturally wanted to confirm it first-hand.
I haven’t been to a Lowes store in a few weeks, so I visited the closest one today, taking a 20-25 minute drive out there. I am not a fan of this location, but was eager to see what they’ve done with the place.
I was puzzled, as there were plenty of Kobalt tools still on display. I found some new Craftsman tools on the shelves and in special end-cap displays, but there were no big changes compared to my last visit to Lowes a few weeks ago.
My Lowes store still has nothing like the Craftsman tool displays or Kobalt tools push-out of the like that readers from around the country have described.
Where are all the new Craftsman tools?
About three months ago, I visited five different Lowes locations, even going to one an hour away when visiting family. At the time, there were many promotional Craftsman tool displays still up from the holidays, and just a few tools intermixed with the regular stock.
There was a slightly increased presence of Craftsman tools this time around, but I didn’t see much difference in the Kobalt tool offerings.
Maybe other nearby Lowes stores have seen changes, but I didn’t have it in me to spend half a day visiting multiple stores to see the same layouts that they all had last time. My visit to the closest Lowes was disappointing, even a waste of time. Nothing much has changed since my last visit!
I did find myself a little diverted during this visit, thinking about things beyond what will happen to the Kobalt selection if or when my local Lowes displaces their house-brand tools in favor of Craftsman.
Readers previously brought up concerns about branding overlap, but it wasn’t until I saw some of the displays that I started sharing the same concerns.
Circular saw blade selection? Mainly Dewalt, Lenox, Irwin, and Craftsman, with a small sprinkling of other brands.
Hand saw selection? Lenox, Irwin, Craftsman, and again, a scarcity of other brands.
Utility knives? Lenox, Irwin, Craftsman, Kobalt, and some house-brand tools. But, mainly Lenox, Irwin, and Craftsman. There was a nice selection of Olfa snap-blade knives, and some Gerber folding knives.
What about metal snips? Stanley FatMax, Lenox, Craftsman. There were only two FatMax SKUs, but they still count.
Reciprocating saw blades? Mainly Dewalt and Lenox. Oh, and is that Porter Cable too?
There’s limited shelf space at any retail store, and here a lot of hand tool and power tool accessory space is occupied by Stanley Black & Decker brands. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – many of these are excellent tools! – but I was surprised by the lack of variety.
The selection is not much different than a year ago, except at that time there were mainly Stanley tools where the Craftsman tools now hang. However, we are now more frequently reminded that Irwin and Lenox are now Stanley Black & Decker brands too.
I do miss Black & Decker Outlet Stores, but c’mon!
At this point, I started questioning what it was I, as a customer, wanted. I want to see Craftsman, Irwin, and Lenox come out with new hand tools – hopefully more USA-made ones too. But Craftsman, Dewalt, Irwin, Lenox, and Porter Cable? That’s a lot of brands from the same company, and a lot of competition against any other brand that shares the same shelf space.
To be fair, if the current selection of SBD brands’ products were thinned out a little, what other brands could or would Lowes fill the spaces with? Remove one of the Lenox tools from a section, and one of the Craftsman models. What other brands’ tools would you fill that space with?
For hand saws, maybe Vaughan and Shark? But Vaughan might have an agreement with Home Depot. For reciprocating saw blades, maybe Diablo? But they too might have an agreement with Home Depot.
Stanley Black & Decker brands are dominating the hand tool and power tool accessory shelf spaces at Lowes, and while it’s surprising when visually reminded of that in person, there aren’t a lot of other feasible alternative options.
As a side note, the hammer and striking tool section had a good variety, with a strong Estwing presence.
I was happy to see USA-made accessories from Dewalt and Lenox. And seeing a couple of new Craftsman power tools on shelves made me optimistic about what is to come. Hidden in the tool storage aisle, they had a quarter pallet display of “new lower price” Craftsman USA-made tape measures. I would have bought one, but I bought a two-pack of these (or very similar) tapes back in December.
Overall, my visit to Lowes today was somewhat disappointing. I’m never in a good mood when I leave a tool or home improvement store empty-handed and uninspired. Unfortunately, that usually happens at this particular Lowes store.
I’ll likely go there again in a few weeks, either ahead of Father’s Day or when my memory of this visit starts to fade, whichever happens first. Or, maybe I’ll make the trek to my favorite Lowes store instead, which is unfortunately 45 minutes away.
You guys are fantastic, and I’m going to have to lean on you as ToolGuyd’s eyes and ears. My closest Lowes stores aren’t going through many changes (yet?), and my last emails to Lowes and Kobalt press/media contacts were never answered, and so I have no one to ask about these matters. So, if you don’t mind, What’s going on at YOUR Lowes store? Are you happy with whatever changes you might be seeing?
I think that Lowes’ tool section can be strengthened, and maybe a Craftsman-centric remodel will do the trick. Thoughts?