Ace Hardware signs on to sell Craftsman

Posted Feb. 19, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.

By Sandra M. Jones | Sears Holdings Corp. agreed to sell Craftsman tools at Ace Hardware stores starting in May, marking the first time a retailer outside of Sears Holdings will carry the proprietary brand.

About 100 Ace stores will sell Craftsman tools including hand tools and portable power tools. By June, Ace will promote Craftsman products to its 4,500 Ace stores.

Sears has been talking to mid-size hardware store chains across the country for the past year about carrying Craftsman products in their stores, holding discussions with Oak Brook-based Ace Hardware Corp., Do-It-Best Corp. of Fort Wayne, Ind. and Tractor Supply Co. of Brentwood, Tenn., to name a few, according to people familiar with the  discussions.

The move follows an edict made two years ago when Edward Lampert, Sears’ Chairman and majority shareholder, raised the possibilty publicly of selling Sears’ exclusive in-house brands through rival retailers. Lampert grouped Sears’ marquee brands;Kenmore appliances, Craftsman tools and DieHard car batteries—into a separate brand business unit in 2008 and hired former Procter & Gamble Europe executive Guenther Trieb to run it.

“Our mission is to develop a brand building factory that grows the business, the brand equity and shareholder value of Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard,” said Trieb in an interview published and distributed to Sears employees. “We believe this will be the next big thing in corporate America.”

The strategy runs counter to what most retailers are doing these days. Rivals from Walmart to J.C. Penney to Kohl’s to Home Depot are expanding their in-house brands as a way to attract shoppers and stand out from their competitors.

Critics contend that selling Sears’ proprietary brands through other retailers could raise cash in the short run, but over time give shoppers fewer reasons to visit its stores and exacerbate the retailer’s decline.



  1. bob Feb. 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Well if Sears would get smart and become stand alone business where it opens early so you can go in and buy tools etc. then people would start shopping there more.

  2. david wayne osedach Feb. 19, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    This is a very good move for Sears. They will have that much more sales exposure in the US market.

  3. bill sopper Feb. 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    It’s amazing, sad, actually. I sold TV’s & Stereos for Sears in the mid 60’s at the 4 year old Golf-Mill Store. SEARS RULED !!! But, little by little, they managed to lose their market share. Their upper management couldn’t or wouldn’t cope with the changes in the marketplace until it was too late. Back then you never heard of Walmart of Target. Back then you could hardly get into the paint dept. on a spring Sat. morning…they were closed on Sundays. Now you go into a paint dept. & you have to go 2-3 depts. over to find someone to help you & they know nothing about the product. Put a fork in ‘em.

  4. Sage 1 Feb. 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    If this, indeed, is “the next big thing in corporate America,” then the “next next best thing” will be for Burger King Whoppers to be sold in every McDonalds. This move should prove as successful as Lampert’s other brilliant idea: Sears Essentials . . . 90% of which are money-losing duds that the shopping public has thoroughly repudiated. He must be wanting to give us yet another reason never to step foot inside a Sears (or Sears Essentials) store again. Interestingly, the PR release came after the market close Friday . . . too timid to trumpet this announcement during a more conventional time period?

  5. Andy Key Feb. 20, 2010 at 1:59 a.m.

    Mr. Lambert,
    You need to understand why the Craftsman brand currently has value. The fact that your Sear’s stores and corporate policy protected the brand and made sure the products were well made and supported by Sear’s parts availability.
    I personally avoid the other brands of similar products for the above mentioned reasons. Furthermore, I am willing to spend more for the product support Sear’s offers. Once, you sell that off, and cheapen the product (which is exactly why Guenther Trieb was hired) Craftsman is dead.
    You may ask yourself, so what? I’m just one customer. Well, I’m one of hundreds of thousands that carefully spend our hard-earned dollars. Craftsman brand has a legacy of confirming our decision. You mess that up, and Sear’s is done. No, I am not a Sear’s employee, nor have I ever been one. I have occasionally tried Home Depot (and similar cheap products)on occasion, but the so-called savings were useless due to defective, worthless product.
    Don’t lose sight of the real value of Sear’s. Furthermore, don’t be the one on whose watch Sear’s / Craftsman died.
    A concerned customer

  6. MC in AZ Feb. 20, 2010 at 8:04 a.m.

    I’m pretty much with “A concerned customer”. I’ve bought a lot of Craftsman tools over the years, not because it’s some vaunted brand (hint: try spending more time with your customers and less with your marketing droids), but because they’re domestic, generally well made, more readily available and less expensive than Snap-On, Matco, Armstrong, etc., and backed by a good warranty. There’s an Ace store nearby, without the aggravation of the mall crowd, so this move will likely sell more tools to me. But first and foremost, it’s about the product, not the brand. Move your production contracts off shore and start bringing in garbage from China, and Craftsman is no better than Kobalt, Husky or any of the other house names sold through various chains. Nice and shiny, and probably far better margin, but you won’t find any of those names in my shop. I nearly broke my hand once when an off-brand wrench snapped — never again.

  7. Opinion8ed2 Feb. 22, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    I believed that Craftsman tools were worth every penny and continued to buy them even though I couldn’t stand to enter a Sear’s Store. But after buying Craftsman labeled power tools and finding out that the company didn’t make or support them, I lost my respect for the whole line. Subsequently, I only enter their outlets when buying maintenance parts for the last products I still own. The company has succeeded in making sure they burn every bridge that might bring me back. I trust Ace. I hope for the Sear’s employees sake, the Craftsman Hand tools keep their quality, this seems to be their last stand.

  8. Tameika Warnken Feb. 24, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.

    Very high charges if you go into the red. I was charged ?180 in a single month for a few excursions into the red. All was good until my current account manger moved on and his useless replacement came in. It took me 2 weeks to get a reply to my messages! Basically a bank is only as good as the business manger you are assigned. If you get a good manager then you usually get good service. I’m now looking for another bank/manager.

  9. pergola bench March 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    I lately came across your blog and have been learning along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have loved reading. Fine blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  10. henry sawyer March 1, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    Selling Craftsman tools at Ace Hardware is “Eddie’s” chance for redemption for nearly destroying Sears. I hope the selling of tools expands to Auto Zone, Home Depot, and every other retailer that sells tools. The Craftsman brand name is much like “On-Star” which used to be exclusively- a General Motors product. Craftsman can survive without Sears but Sears (currently) cannot survive without Craftsman. Craftsman which is still made in America has the best reputation and a huge loyal customer base. Auto-mechanics swear by them and if you have a complete set, you can pawn them at your local pawn shop (instead of mailing off your gold). Ace Hardware has a life time warranty on their tools and their tools are quality but they are not “Craftsman”. This is definitely a good move for Sears for the short term. Now “Eddie” has to reinvest into the infrastructure of the Sears stores and re-invent the “Sears” brand name. With the proper strategy- Sears may once again mean something- just like Craftsman.

  11. andrew March 8, 2010 at 8:10 a.m.

    I work for Fastenal and we were the last carrier of Craftsman up until the beginning of 2010. The only problem with that is that we had to PURCHASE at SEARS WHOLESALE PRICE, and then put our own markup on the product. I sure hope Ace gets better pricing than we did. The average Joe could easily purchase 20% cheaper from sears.

  12. best online business opportunity May 5, 2010 at 6:52 a.m.

    Great post!

  13. Kenny June 3, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Don’t forget that not ALL Craftsman tools are made in the USA. Don’t believe me? Go check out your impact wrench or your belt sander. Hand tools are generally made here, but air and power tools will say CHINA or TAIWAN.

  14. concern craftsman customer June 4, 2010 at 7:01 a.m.

    Yet another bad move by sears. I am already starting to move away from the craftsman brand because they’ve cheapened it too much, as they’ve done with kenmore and selling appliances in kmart.
    sears is completely misguided in its marketing approach. trying to sell more products ‘on-line’ only where you have to purchase the tool on line, have it shipped to the store before you can look at it, and then decide if the quality is good enough to warrant keeping it is a bad business idea and makes the local stores, and people who buy tools from them, useless. The reason you go to the store to look at a tool is to see the quality before you buy it! Sales agents who don’t know anything about the products on the shelves, and refer you to the website are useless as well.
    I’ve just about had it with craftsman and sears. Having cheapened the brand to Ace means losing the craftsman identity, which is part of what kept people interested–and the good quality tools they made. Looks like Matco or Snapon tools is my next option.

  15. Steve June 13, 2010 at 10:01 a.m.

    @Kenny, even their hand tools are starting to be made in China now. Check out part number 00914018000. Those new black wrenches are Chinese. A buddy of mine broke one and they wouldn’t just replace it, they made him go through a bunch of returns or second hand wrenches for a replacement.
    I’m slowly replacing all of my Craftsman tools with Matco and Snap-on. The Craftsman brand does not stand for what it used to (quality).

  16. william June 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.

    Esddie Lambert is bound and determined to finish off Sears spiral into bankruptcy. The move to sell Craftsman tools at Ace hardware, will only bring about the demise of the brand faster than reducing the quality and support has. All one has to do is look to see what the comments are saying recently about the quality and suppport, or lack there of, on there mowers, weedeaters and tractors, to see that they are headded downhill fast!