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Like you, we couldn’t help but get a little excited when we heard Ace Hardware’s announcement that they’ll carry Craftsman tools. And it looks like that’ll happen as we’ve heard that Craftsman has indeed introduced Ace stores to their products. But we still have two big questions.

First, we wonder how many Ace stores will actually carry the tools. Unlike Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other big-box stores, Ace Hardware stores are independently owned and operated. They’re called “two-steps” because while they do purchase products through the Ace franchise — which gives them some group buying power to compete with those big-box competitors — each store can choose (as far as we’re aware) what specific products they buy and carry as inventory. Ace buyers attend large conventions at which various approved vendors show their goods, and said buyers place orders for what they’ll sell back at the store.

So will buyers ante up for Craftsman tools? And if so, which tools will they carry? Will they carry Craftsman-branded power tools? Heck, even Sears doesn’t hang their hat on the Craftsman brand alone when it comes to power tools; they stock lots of other brands — even in stores.

And what if they choose to carry the brand-defining mechanics’ tools? That leads us to our next big question: Will they honor question-free, walk-in tool replacements?

We can’t help but wonder how that’ll work. While Sears stores manage inventory as a group — meaning that it’s easy for corporate to keep replacement inventory and associated repair supplies (like ratchet kits and such) on hand — Ace stores handle their own. Will the individual Ace stores pony up to keep those supplies on hand? And how will Ace handle the warranty returns if/when you bring a busted tool in?

We’ll keep our ear to the ground, as we’re sure you will as well. Can’t wait to see what happens.

 

13 Responses to Craftsman + Ace: Two Big Questions

  1. ToolGuyd says:

    One thought is that perhaps Ace stores will receive credit for warranty returns that can be applied towards new Craftsman tool purchases. Or, perhaps replacement orders will be placed to Ace’s Craftsman suppliers who can ship parts and tools directly to customers from their warehouses.

    Come Father’s Day, I think we will start seeing some of the newer Craftsman hand/mechanic’s tools, as well as a few other popular holiday tools stocked at Ace locations. In addition to driving in holiday sales, the promo period will probably serve as a trial period that may influence Ace owners’ decisions as to whether they should carry Craftsman products in the future or not.

    In any case, you’re right – all we can do right now is wait and see what happens.

  2. Roscoe says:

    There’s a lot of speculation here that was addressed in the press release announcing the deal…

    The tools will be stocked in Ace DC’s and likely not drop-shipped to stores. Qualifying stores will have to start with a minimum mix, and will have access to a wide variety of skus, including hand-tools, power tools, storage, and shop-vacs.

    Yes, warranty exchanges on hand-tools will be handled in-store as Policy A, just like a lot of other things already sold in Ace stores. Obviously they’re going to have to have the item in the store to give you a new one on the spot, so if they don’t stock it, return it to a Sears store.

  3. Shopmonger says:

    Yes, this is a god thing for both craftsman and for ace, ace will enjoy the cash flow in and out of their box locations, and craftsman needs more outlets to compete as you will see some Sears closing and then there will be a loss of availability for some. I see this being a good resource for Ace and their owners to bring in some solid hand tools to the market. If they don’t already have a line of power tolls then they may come out and get the power line also.

    ShopMonger

  4. Kurt says:

    It would be nice to see local availability of Craftsman tools again. I live in a small town, which has an independent Sears store that stocked a nice variety of tools. Then K-Mart began selling them, and the Sears store dropped just about all tools. Now, K-Mart has cut down it’s previous two full isles to a fraction of one that is very sparsely stocked. So typical.

  5. Jerry says:

    The roll-out could be a great deal for all of us. I am sure they will be offering some special deals to get people introduced to the reality that their local Ace has Craftsman tools. I foresee some big discounts in the first roll-outs. Now, if I only had a little extra cash ;-)

  6. Who Shops at Ace? says:

    Ace sucks and have any of you ever heard of this thing called the Internet. It’s a tool, ironically, that can be used to buy Craftsman tools with the benefit of user reviews and price/service comparisons. There’s one website called Amazon.com and you can have whatever tool shipped to you and tell the old man down at Ace who closes at 4pm where he can stick his hours, his lousy selection, and my all time favorite, “I can order it for you.”

  7. GadgetLovingGeezer says:

    The local Ace Hardware stores have good service, but just about the highest prices anywhere — even higher prices than ordering from http://www.acehardware.com which will ship tools to your local Ace store free.

    My local Ace requires a receipt to return a lifetime warranteed Ace tool. I hope Ace won’t require a receipt as a prerequisite for honoring the Craftsman lifetime warranty.

  8. Brice says:

    I guess my question is, what is the big deal with Craftsman tools? I’ve never found them to be better than any other reasonable brand. I hardly ever go into an Ace or a Sears, so why would I care if it said Craftsman on it?

  9. Pruitt says:

    @ Brice
    I’m a big fan of their handtools and inventory. They’re almost as easy to get as Lowes/Home Depot, and cheaper/easier to get than Snap-On, etc.

  10. as far as ace haha handing craftman hand tools for warrerty replacement they will by shiping you that tool? thats bull you buy the craftsman name for 1 reasion the on sight return for great tools.if ace is going to handle craftsman they shoud replace on site not by mail thanks pops

  11. Dale says:

    The Ace Hardware company will probably deny you a replacement Craftsman tool, unless you bought it there.
    As I found out in Winnemucca NV., you are better off buying another brand that is under warranty locally or drive 170 miles to Reno.
    Save yourself some hassle and avoid buying Craftsman tools unless you live pretty close to an actual Sears store.
    Craftsman tools are higher priced for a reason, in that they are probably not any better made now days, but they can cover the expense of honoring their legendary Lifetime Guaranty with a free replacementin it fails to give you complete satisfaction.
    It was sort of sneaky for Ace to get involved if they were going to fly the Craftsman flag and not honor the Craftsman warranty, but at least I can try to warn others of this stratagem of theirs.

  12. Roger Browning says:

    Local Ace store in Gray, GA. will only replace if the tool has looks the same and has the exact model number as the one they have on the wall. I tried to explain that model numbers change periodically, but that didn’t matter…Why buy Craftsman tools at all from Ace?

  13. Bobby Fuller says:

    My local Ace store carries Craftsman hand tools so I carried in a 1/2″ deep well 1/4″ drive Craftsman socket which I’ve had for over thirty years. The socket has become cracked so I wanted to get it replaced. I picked up a Craftsman socket from the store rack that matched mine in every way EXCEPT the two sockets had different product numbers stamped on them. The clerk told me that The Craftsman tools sold Ace are manufactured exclusively for Ace and Ace only honors the “Craftsman Warranty” on the Craftsman tools Ace sells. This, to me, represents pure dishonest hood winking of the consumer who has come to trust the Craftsman name but learns that name and consumer trust is being exploited. Please let me know if this is the first case you’ve heard of like this.

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