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Dan writes: “For anyone up here in Canada, Princess Auto is the Canadian version of Harbour Freight — a lot of cheap-but-sketchy tools (22-piece screwdriver set, $8.88!) and genuinely good prices for tarps, wheels, surplus.  It’s a great place to buy big 500-piece sets of c-clips, cotter pins, etc, so you’ll always have the size you need.  Oh, and, yes, it’s a dangerous place to get browsing…”

I love hearing about tools and tool shops from other countries, especially our neighbors to the North.  On each of my two visits to Canada I was surprised by how similar and how different simple things were from my home in Texas.

For example, the name Princess Auto, in the words of Sam Elliot, is “a name no man would self-apply where I come from.”  But when I mentioned Dan’s missive to a friend, she reliably informed me that many Canadian business contain names of royalty — hence Princess Auto.  Apparently this is no big deal in the great white North.

Anyway, if you’re in Canada and haven’t heard of it, Pricess Auto is a great source of cheap-ass tools.  And even if you’re not in Canada, give the site a look to see where your Northern neighbors go to get tools they can’t normally afford — and where they end up spending too much cash just like you.

Princess Auto [Corporate Site]


89 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Princess Auto’s Just Like Harbor Freight, eh!

  1. kythri says:

    I’m glad I don’t live in Canada. I don’t know if I could un-man enough to shop for man-stuff at a place called “Princess”…

    • Mark says:

      Actually the name comes from the street it was on in Winnipeg when it first opened up around WW2. But thanks for the ignorant insight into Canada, you probably think we all live in igloos too?

      • db says:

        That’s a bit harsh! You have to admit that “princess” isn’t the most macho name going… then again our American friends have “Pep Boys”… somehow that seems just as wussy as Princess. As far as tool quality goes… as my buddy says “you buy 5, keep the one that works and take the rest back”

      • Rick Kozma says:

        Found a tool in our shop so typed in the name powerfist. Its supposed to be a wire stripper but what a piece of jumk it is. It’s like everything at tjhe new princess auto. Throw away junk.
        I have fond memories of the original in Winnipeg. It sold high quality made in NA stuff.
        The new one is just a chinese junk retailer.
        They should just put a dumpster outside the exit and save everybody the trouble of taking it home snd throwing it in the trash

        • Jj says:

          It’s true there is some crap at PA, but really, you can’t beat it. I have a belt sander that I bought there 10 years ago for $20 and it still works. I also had a cordless grease gun. When the batteries crapped out after two years, I took the unit back and they gave me a new one. Not batteries, the whole kit. Who wants to pay $20 for a tool you will only use once if you can get it at PA for $5. You can’t lose. If it breaks/doesn’t work, you get a new one, no questions asked. Whatcha complaining about?

        • Don P says:

          “Chinese junk retailer” merely points out that crap quality may be all we can find nowadays. E.g. I have two garden carts, 30 and 10 years old, identically made, which demonstrate the difference in material quality. The American-made tyres and inner tubes on the old one are still good after 30 years. On the other, China-made inner tubes last barely one year and are not worth patching: but I doubt we can find US-made inner tubes nowadays at any price.

          • Mark says:

            You Can’t beat Princess Auto yes the tools are discount, and quality varies, but they will return everything, I mean everything, without a receipt as well. If you want snap-on buy Snap-on, but this place is hoping every time I go in, it’s the MacDonalds of tools, and it’s tools are not great but the store and the staff are! Some folks aren’t aware of what the store offers, low price and handyman quality, it’s not a store for Contractors or Tradesman.

      • Newf FreeMan says:

        Hahahaha You Tell em Mark, I had a southerner online one time who continually cut us nartheners up…..and yes just for a joke I snafood some pics of the Ice Hotel, told him it was my home to which after him seeing the pics he fell in love with and then wanted info on purchasing…..OMGossshhhh was he pissed after me leading him on for a good 30 minutes and a number of peeps watching the conversation. Yup he was a Princess to say the least, hahahahaha I still get tears just reminiscing ……Ahhhhh tears….

    • Paul says:

      I live on the border Michigan is just across the Bluewater Bridge, I shop at both Harbour Freight and Princess Auto – the best of both worlds. The best deals at PA is the surplus section, HF doesn’t have a similar section. I find the product quality a bit better at PA. However, the staff at PA is more knowledgeable and five times friendlier than HF. PA trains their staff well, particularly in welding and hydraulics. But HF and PA in the final analysis different stock. I am really blessed by being able to shop onion both countries.

    • Dar says:

      You un-manned enough to call your self Cathy, or Kathrin, Whatever that is supposed to say.

    • murray says:

      real men wear pink in canada

    • robert says:

      If u have to un man whatever that means to go into a store because of its name you have bigger issues that you are not dealing with… Check out the urinals at your favourite tool store in the big butch USA … I bet you see a tool you could use ….and stay south of the border eh

    • Mentoya says:

      If you are afraid of what someone would think of you for buying a good deal maybe you are a princess.

    • Newf FreeMan says:

      Hhahahaha silliness, Im far happier to be in Canada to be honest. I think if one is worried about a name like Princess then your probably not sure how much of man you really are….dag nabber that makes me chuckle. Anyways yes the tools are more focused towards non trades men, light duty home shops. If your a tradesman and cant afford construction grade tools like Rigid or Milwaukee then Id say your not a tradesman or just a fake pretending to imitate a tradesman. Oh I might add too, when do we get our wall between Canada and USA? Id gladly donate time building it!!!

    • Andreiy Korstoy says:

      Obviously you have male identity problems. Maybe grow a scruffy beard and put a few tattoos on your arms and people will never guess thatyou question your masculinity!

  2. Dan says:

    Yeah, the name is weird — and, as they say, it’s a “unique world” — this time around, they had a whole bunch of sausage stuffing machines for $50.

    That said, it’s hard to turn down an 18v cordless drill for $19.99, or a knockoff Dremel for $17, or a non-contact thermometer for $33..

  3. For infrared non-contact thermometers, look no further than the TempGun. The Sears version was written up back on September 10th, and I posted a long comment about the success I’ve had with the Pro Exotics TempGun products. They’re solidly built, the nicer models have adjustable emissivity settings for measuring shiny surfaces, and the little ones start at US$15. Keep right on walking past the Cen-tech. Get a better tool at a better price. Oh yeah, they’re loads more durable than the Raytek.

  4. The Scandinavian equivalent is Biltema (http://www.biltema.no). It started out selling cheap knock-off car parts, branched into tools and are currently selling everything from golf clubs to kitchen supplies.

    Cheap-ass screwdriver set: (http://www.biltema.no/products/product.asp?iSecId=194&iItemId=93390) $9,52, 12V cordless dril $26,83 and non-contact thermometer (http://www.biltema.no/products/product.asp?iSecId=263&iItemId=91748) $63,17. This is cheap by Norwegian standards, anyway.

    Hey also have a 10-years-warranty line of tools which really are quite decent.

  5. Chris Ball says:

    To make up for the store name, the house brand is called Power Fist and all of the stuff is a manly bright safety yellow. The store name is only on the building ant the receipt, my $30 7″ angle grinder says Power Fist. Although come to think of it, I don’t know that I have ever heard someone around here use Princess in a perjorative sense.

    As an irrelavent aside another local tool stores house brand for thier compressor products is bynford.

  6. Joeman says:

    Also, don’t forget that most of us who buy stuff from there call it “PA”. Funny thing though,… I never really thought of the name as ‘weird’… Must be that Commonwealth Country thing, I suppose..

    One thing about “PA” is that you can Return ANYTHING in ANY condition and they will take it back, give you full in-store credit OR,…(and I love this one) Simply give you ALL YOUR MONEY BACK !! You can’t beat that…. ‘Period’.

  7. Amber says:

    Princess Auto started as a wrecking yard in Winnipeg on Princess street…hence the name.

  8. ben nokleby says:

    I live about ten minutes from a pricess auto. and it really,really is abad place too browse. I get a flier about once a montha nd can check off at least $100 of stuf I think I’ll need and $20 of stuff i need now.

  9. l_bilyk says:

    There are also some good deals on quality stuff there. Channellock, lisle, milton, and a few others can usually be had cheaper than anywhere else

  10. do you think that you will ever build in chatham, ontario? if so when?

  11. Chris C says:

    Princess is a fantastic place for tinkerers. May as well forget about the cash refund, though. Once your money is spent there, it stays there. If you’re anything like me, you’ll walk out with something else in lieu of cash, probably a russian gas mask from the surplus section, or a box of pager motors.
    If you need tools to modify and/or abuse, Power Fist is the ticket. Usually good enough to be fairly (or occasionally very) useable, but nothing you’ll regret cutting/bending/grinding… Also, as stated above, nice deals on good stuff.
    I love Princess Auto, even the name.

  12. steve lee says:

    I believe its called Princess auto because the original shop was on Princess St. in Winnipeg I went to school in Winnipeg back in the late 60’s when PA was primarily an army surplus place and built cheap farm equipment. I recall you could buy a little army jeep from them for 50 bucks back then. Wish I’d bought a truck load. A great place for the inventive mind, I love the place. Those flyers though have almost led to divorce around here 🙂

  13. Grant says:

    Also in Canada is Busy Bee Tools.

    They are closer to Harbor Freight than Princess Auto, I think, in that they have most of the same or similar items as Harbor Freight. Canadian prices tend to be higher than Harbor Freight prices, especialy after allowing for currency conversion. So shop carefully.

    There are some differences, at times, between Harbor Freight and Busy Bee items. For example, the Busy Bee version of the 7×10 metal lathe had metal change gears, while the arbor Freight version had plastic ones. So again it’s worth looking closely at Busy Bee in terns of price and product detail.

  14. Homer says:

    Princess Auto is coming to Newmarket (Green Lane & Hwy 404 area)! Ah, no longer a need to drive a hour plus to get there! Princess Auto is what Canadian Tire used to be, before they got the feminine hygeine section.

  15. ReyTalusan says:

    I have been a PA tool and equipment shoppers for awhile. I love the surplus section. I buulit a lot of stuff around the house for $5.00 Cdn.
    One thing I am in love with is the furniture dolly.
    I am a Canadian with Filipino heritage and I am cheapo.

  16. Martin Waters says:

    I live in Burlington,Ontario. I would give PA’s power tools a mixed rating. However their return policy is unreal. They claim “no sale is final until you are satisfied”. And guess what? They mean it! I took back a broken $88.00 air compressor after 1 1/2 years with no bill. The service clerk was extra pleasant and gave me a refund, no problem!

    I agree that PA is just like Costco. You go in for 1 thing and you can easily end up spending over $200.00 dollars.

  17. Dan says:

    Hey cheap tools you can buy 2 or 3 for the price of a similar name brand tool. I would buy all my high end tools elsewhere but any thing under $100 seems to be great.

  18. Darren says:

    Their flyers should be illegal. Constant eye-rolling from the wife when I come home from a trip to PA because of that evil flyer 🙂 Sometimes I’ll buy the bizarre surplus stuff ‘just because’. Rarely buy tools for work there, but for unique stuff for home use they can’t be beat.

  19. Monica says:

    I AM the wife in this house, and Im the one who introduced my husband to Princess Auto; I was introduced by a couple of other women – one is a farmer from way out in the boonies, and when she comes south the three of us like to browse hardware and building stores together. My husband took one look and he was caught, too.
    My most recent purchases were a pair of small haemostats (ideal for removing a floppy disc’s metal part from where it got stuck in the floppy drive) and a small hydraulic jack for deck repairs.

  20. To get to a Princess Auto i have to drive fifty miles in one direction or about seventy in the other and since i started going there i have been making a trip about once a month to get that one thing i “need” and walking out with three or four things i dont need right now but may need next week hahahaha.
    Although their tools are cheap some of them work fairly well and as far as specialty dodads i think they have got Canadian Tire placing second place now.
    They do have a good money back deal there and so far although i have a “couple” dodads around i havent used its been a good store for me to shop at

  21. Rian says:

    ive built 2 go karts, a mini bike and a trike from princessauto’s suplies and today i have a $140 credit so me and my friend are getting some suplies. its the only nplace hear in bc that i can find all this stuff so its great for the kid thats still in school to learn from

  22. Rick says:

    We buy all the tools for our delivery staff at Princess auto – some of their tools have a good over the counter replacement warranty.

    Never thought about the name being girly, but “Power Fist” brand name for tools sounds like some kind of gay sex practice…..”oooh yeah, give me your power fist!” ugh!

  23. Rob says:


    If you think that you don’t like shopping at a “Princess” store check out how many Canadian Stores are called “Crown” or “Royal” !


  24. Ralph says:

    Yes, “Princess” wouldn’t seem to be a good choice, but the company was originally founded in Winnipeg, as “Princess Auto Wrecking”, and was located on Princess Street. Why change a good thing? Here in the ‘Peg, we often simply say, “Off to Princess to get a …” and everyone is quite aware of where we’re going.

  25. Owen says:

    Hi there. I have got a lot of things from Princess Auto and never had to take anything back. I had a grinder fail but we worked it to death. We sanded all the windows and frames on a house and that took all summer. It was only about 25 or 30 dollars for the grinder/sander so it payed for itself a few times over. I find they have some import tools there that I can not get anywere else. The surplus stuff is great if you like to invent or design on a low budget. I live about an hours drive from the store but It is worth the trip. I am going in some time this week to buy a new drill.


  26. Ed Hiebert says:

    The “Princess” in the name probably referred originally to a street. There are plenty of Princess Avenues, Streets, etc. here in Canada. Also lots of Kings, Queens, and Princes. The real funny thing about the name Princess Auto is the fact that they don’t sell auto parts, except for a few oddball things.

  27. Scott Bishop says:

    With The Royal Service included, it truly is a “kid in a candy store” experience !
    Similar products at “PA” blow away the garbage being sold at Canadian Tire and likewise gracing the shelves of Dollar Stores everywhere. PA’s “No Sale Is Final Until You’re Satisfied” policy is second to none and you will always be leaving any of their locations with that goofy grin on your face wondering just what your going to do with all of your newfound goodies knowing that if you are not happy in any way they will make it right. And like most have already mentioned the impulse buying should warrant starting a support group soon. But after all… he who dies with the most toys wins!

  28. Mike says:

    I used the “princess” part of the name to trick my 2 young daughters into coming with me once. It only worked once… now they scream and run the other way! Apparently it gets boring after the first hour.

  29. Julie says:

    Incidentally, since my husband was looking for presents for me for Christmas, I dropped a PA catalog off on the kitchen table with bits circled, and even notes like “I don’t know why I want this, but I WANT THIS!!!”. I think it worked, I guess I’ll see tomorrow!

  30. Martin says:

    I live live in Regina, Sk, I buy some stuff at PA, but the quaility of many of the “off shore” tools is very poor. Honestly what good is a warranty on a wrench if the thing bends like butter and breaks at 10:00 p.m.
    The china knock off stuff they sell is simply piracy, as China steals other companies products and then reproduce them with .25 cent an hour labour, and poor quailty materials.
    My preference is to buy one higher priced quality wrench that will last for years than to have to buy one cheapo and have drive 1/2 an hour to the PA store 3 times to replace the garbage tool under warranty.
    It is my time and my money,and my way of doing things.

  31. Brian says:

    Princess Auto is a Canadain success story. From humble beginnings to one hell of a store. I happen to know the “Weird Name” came from it’s early beginnings. The first store was on Princess Street therefore the name!!!
    As one customer here in Canada stated “if you can’t find it in Princess Auto you probably don’t need it”.

  32. Jerry says:

    As far as the cheap tools, just look an item over carefully. I have a ball joint press that was 1/4 the price of anywhere else, has done 6 full sets so far, and has stood up to the abuse of a 1/2″ drive air wrench (a heavy duty CP unit, not a low torque cheapo) for the sticky ones, and is still in service. I am about to test the no sale is final policy with a cracked/leaky air hose return. We shall see.

  33. Jeff says:

    No body forces americans to come buy at our Great canadian stores. If the name bothers you then go buy tools else where while us frugal canadians don’t have to give our houses back because we are ashamed to buy at Princess Auto !

  34. Leo says:

    For “Dan” in Texas a few eye openers.
    Princess Auto has a exchange policy second to none, I have braught back a power bandsaw after 3 months [was not happy with it] and got my FULL CASH refund back No uestions asked!
    They have a lot of “cheap” stuff, but if you need a tool once in a blue moon it saves a lot of money.
    Funny how these “Texans” always know it better even that they live about 3000 mile away.

  35. Willie Smythe says:

    The exchange policy is old school, i.e. the customer is always right. If you don’t like it you get your money back. Wow, who does that anymore? I love everything about PA, from staff, to the surprizes you find in there every trip.

    Only thing I can think of that could use some improvement is their web site. It’s okay, but could be a lot better, like if they had something like this on it so PA diehards to chat and exchange ideas and comments and stuff.

  36. J says:

    The name Princess Auto comes from the first store being on Princess Street Winnipeg.

  37. John L says:

    Around the Moncton (NB) area, there are a number of us that just call it “the man store”. I have had mixed results. My power Fist drill press and my metal-cutting band saw are great, my cordless drill is fine but the extra battery wouldn’t take a charge, and the cheaper biscuit joiner broke quickly, but they exchanged it for the more expensive ($10 more) one which works nicely. The biscuits are the best price in town. I burnt out the variable speed angle grinder and the replacement is running fine. Their jeweller’s files are fine, step drills and their large caliber twist drills work as they should.

    It’s a candy store for a tool whore.

  38. Yoda says:

    For three years now since the Sarnia store opened I have been going to Princess Auto instead of to hockey games and sports bars. For about the same money you’d spend on that type of amusement, I’ve bought truckloads of goods at PA–some of which, surprisingly, I’ve actually had occasion to use. I haven’t had to return much but there’s always the reassuring feeling that I can return goods since “no sale is final until you’re satisfied–not something you can do at an arena or bar. These stores have a 5-star entertainment value. Love hanging out there!

  39. Michael says:

    Yes Princess Auto does have some great deals but don’t be fooled by their guarantee. I have literally spent close to $50,000 there and the first time I needed a warranty on something, they weren’t very keen on helping me out. I told them to check out my account and then call me back. Still waiting with my broken compressor.. not good. I was very very sad to see this happen.

  40. Bill says:

    What store did they refuse you at? I have purchased so much there in the past few years and never had a problem to return things. Really no questions asked, hard to believe. Most my returns are that I bought something I didn’t need, wouldn’t use, or didn’t work for what I wanted. Maybe just a grumpy person that day. And how much stuff do you have to buy there to spend $50,000? I don’t know if they have enough in the store to add up to that.

  41. Yoda says:

    Chap bought a $139 compressor, didn’t know anything about it, apparently didn’t read the instructions, but just plugged it in and found it didn’t work. He returned it and got his money back. I bought it for $70 as is, took it home, flicked the kill switch and it’s been purring ever since. Now usually when you hear “as is” it means you can’t take it back. But I was told I could return it if I couldn’t get it to work and I’m sure they meant it. Frankly, I’m with Bill here; can’t understand what Michael’s talking about.

  42. Michael says:

    Well Bill, I have been buying at the 3 locations here in BC for a very long time, at least 12-13 years and I know most of the people that work there by face, some by name but only the long timers.

    I run a manufacturing business and many of the machines I have I built using hydraulic components, motors, pulleys, you name it, all from there. Then I have a concrete mixer ( HUGE ) tow behind that I retro fitted with adifferent drive system and an array of other things, all from PA. Bottom line it, it would be very uncommon for me to leave the store not having spent at the very least $500 but usually closer to a $1000 at a time. When you run a company and have a lot of other mechanical interests, PA is good and really BAD, for your pocket book. About 1.5 years ago I actually came out with just a couple of items and my wife was shocked,, I laughed because I felt like it was a version of that guy on the TV commercial who tells his wife he reached the END of the internet, had seen it all. Well, I can honestly say, I have literally bought everything I could ever want from their store ( except consumables ) and I didn’t need anything else. I was even shocked at the idea ! Except the lathe they sold, I didn’t need anything large they sold anymore ( I bought a much larger metal lathe elsewhere ) so it was weird leaving with less than a cart full and a 5 foot long receipt. My wife hates entering those into the books ! At the end of the day, without question, they will not take back anything any time. I have an official statement from them via email ( that took many reminders and emails to get ) that says 1 year warranty, that’s it. The rest is up to their discretion. Considering this was only a $400 compressor head, I was a bit pissed. It’s the only thing I have ever asked them to make right and they acknowledged my very long purchasing history so I though that was pretty stupid of them. I don’t shop there much anymore. I realize the prices are good but to me, above all, honesty and truth in advertising matters more than a couple of dollars saved, and they are clearly lying about this policy, and I have it in writing now direct from the horses mouth !

  43. Glover Pender says:

    Princess Auto had decent deals, but starting in 2008-2009 they started jacking up prices by about 20-30% (just when the Cdn dollar started to strengthen, which makes it even harder to accept.) then they put the thing on sale for 20% off. Get the picture? Compare Princess Auto prices to Harbor Freight. Canadians getting ripped off again. Eg. The OBDII code reader. Princess Auto $249, Harbor Freight $139. Identical readers. My buddy has the Pricess auto version. I bought the Harbor Freight on sale for $99, plus used a 20% off coupon, so I paid $80. You might be lucky to buy the Princess Auto version “on sale” for $199

  44. bjørn elling says:

    I’ve been in Princess Auto in Canada and in Biltema in Norway. Biltema has a little bit more selection than Princess Auto, but otherwise, it’s almost the same.

  45. Tim says:

    As a Canadian let me tell you that it is not at all common to name our business’s “princess” or with “royal” names. Thats such a friggin joke that your freind must be one huge moron. Princess auto was originally a wrecking yard on Princess Street in Winnipeg Manitoba. Check their website – its right there in the history. Princess street – nothing to do with princes, queens or princesses.

    Whoever told you that royal thing … holy cow. I cannot think of one example of that and I’ve lived all my 40 years in Canada.

  46. Prince says:

    OK Kythri, since we’re discussing “manliness”, the last time I was down under in Texas, I seem to recall a widespread fetish you “manly” Texans are afflicted with. Every second restaurant was named “daddy” this or “daddy”, I did like Bone Daddies though. I just got back to Canada in the nick of time – I was beginning to develope a Texas lisp and droopy wrist. But good food, booze and nice women. I’ll be back once I recover.

  47. chris pero says:

    The name IS ridiculous, but the store is great! I actually ignored it for years because of the name- I thought it must be some kind of used car dealership, or..,, I don’t know what.. but c’mon! What guy wants to shop at a place with princess in the name. Once you get past that though the store itself is incredible with everything you ever wanted and a ton of stuff you might never need available

  48. Bill says:

    Regarding the Power Fist tools, yeah they’re cheap but I have had great luck with mine. I bought a 7″ angle grinder/sander for about 30 bucks 7 years ago and use it almost everyday to sand down plywood seams on sundecks and this thing has NEVER let me down. Haven’t even changed the brushes yet and the thing has been rained on, covered in snow in the back of my truck…how can you beat that!! Some of the hand tools are pretty crappy though. Have had screwdrivers break after the first turn..lol In general, the place is awesome for those “projects” that come into your brain every once in a while. Also, a great place for stocking up on good ‘ol WD-40.

  49. Bernard says:

    I hate to love this store. When I first heard of the store name I was curious about the name. Princes Auto? Hm Sounds like a weird store name for an automotive store, but when I heard of some of the deals I drove to this place and was amazed to see so many cars parked. When I went inside, I must have been there for over 2 hours and came out with over $300 worth of stuff.

    Their surplus is fantastic. I bought some spare wheels and some oar brackets. Converted my floating dock at the cottage to roll in and out of the lake every spring and fall for easy installation and removal. Thanks Princess Auto.
    My 2000 lb. floating dock now goes in and out of the lake so easy. Less than $50 bucks and I don’t need to bribe the neighbours with a case of beer to help me twice a year. We still get together, but I quit drinking.

  50. jeff says:

    Born in a small town… Princess Auto started in a small town called Brandon Manitoba… It was located on PRINCESS Avenue… it started as a small auto parts store for many years… but now it supplies affordable parts and tools to the farming community. I am amazed now that they have so many more stores offering so many more (albeit) affordable and no name brand tools for the casual user. I don’t know about the USA but there are not many places you can find replacement parts for your cement mixer or your compressor in Canada without going directly to a manufacturer…

  51. sam says:

    We have great on-line marine store up here too. They also have a store. Called PRIDE Marine ??? No matter, they have good prices and products.

  52. Dean Ivey says:

    Princess, oh what would we do without you? They are branching out into a “more durable -read- more expensive line of tools called propoint. But why? If you buy ANYTHING, beat it to death, they will gladly refund your money or replace it, NO QUESTIONS ASKED!! If you break one socket out of a set, they want the entire set back to give you a new set, not just the one! And it’s easy to tell if you’ve used an impact on a “chrome” they really don’t care, it’s all about customer satisfaction. I’d say their better than “Harbour Freight” maybe slightly less than Northern Tool

  53. dav says:

    they do have a lifetime warranty on most tools which is fine if they still sell that tool if you try to return a product that they dont stock or carry anymore they will give you a refund BUT if you dont have your original bill you will only be offerred the least amount that that part or tool was ever offerred for sale at! something they dont tell you up front but i have found it doesnt matter if you keep your bills because after a year or two mine faded so bad i couldnt read them anyways

    • Abe says:

      I never, ever had a problem returning anything at Princess Auto.
      If I don’t have a receipt, they just ask for my phone number and look it up on their computer.
      I have exchanged items and had a full refunds without even showing a receipt.
      I exchanged a welding helmet after 2 years because of a cracked lens holder and I didn’t have a receipt, they asked for my number, looked it up and I left the store with a brand new helmet, no questions asked … and of course a few “cheapo” tools as well, LoL!
      I rarely bought regular priced items there, 90% of everything I ever bought at PA were all on sale.

      You do have to be quick on most sale/ flyer items though as they disappear fast.
      You have to ask or read if the item is a “special buy” or “compulse buy” as those items are only limited stocks and once they are out of stock, they are most likely never to be in store again.
      One thing that many don’t know is that if you call the store about a sale item(s), Princess Auto will put it on hold for you for up to 3 days, as long as it is on or after the flyer sale has started.
      You can always get a raincheque on sale items if they are out of stock and still be able to pay the sale price once it is in stock but you can’t get a raincheque for “special buy” and “compulse buy” items.

  54. RH says:

    Got to agree with Glover Pender. I’ve been shopping at PA for many years. Actually since they opened in Barrie. I was purchasing and visiting at least once a week. Spent a fortune there and loved every minute of it. HOWEVER, since their prices have gone for a big hike they aren’t much cheaper than anywhere else. Since their product IS cheaper than everywhere else it raises the question of shopping there at all. So now I only shop at PA when they have something I can’t find anywhere else.
    It’s a shame they’ve gotten so greedy.

  55. G Mesheau says:

    Love Princess Auto.. at this time I have to travel like 100 or so kms to visit one in another city.
    The good news is they are currently building one here in Saint John NB to open in the early fall . Everyone is excited..

  56. Gordon Jenkins says:

    Pro Point is the line replacing Power Fist. Power Fist is the hit or miss brand. Pro Point seems to be the “new and improved” version of Power Fist. Most of the socket sets and wrenches are now Pro Point. The Pro point is more expensive but better quality. It could be same manufacturer as Titan back in China, not sure. The PA staff at head office in Winterpeg are probably making regular trips to Shenzhen and Guangzhou factories to harp on quality control. Chinese can be quite harsh on factory managers. They will bring out a manager and shoot him in the head right in front of you if they value your business. They don’t do that at GM in Detroit.

  57. Floyd says:

    Princess Auto started up on Princess Street in Winnipeg a long time ago by the Tallman family and that is how it got its name. Can anyone out there tell us how Harbor Freight got its name? I shop one in summer and the other in winter! Great deals!!

  58. Zoubala says:

    Be careful of what you buy at Princess Auto. I bought the portable 44-7/8 inch bandsaw and soon after they stop selling it so getting blades for it became problematic until I found another supplier after I got the lip from one of the floor staff telling me ”because the web site has them online does not means that we have to carry the blades in the store”. So fine after a while I bought the propoint 53 inch bandsaw (389.00$) at Princess guess what a piece of junk and the same thing they stop carrying that saw as normal stock on the floor and now only sells them as a special item for sales events. Getting parts or blades is very annoying the staff is not that knowledgeble or courteaous. I went to get parts for it and the young man looked up the part number and took my name and told me will get it next week and will call you to come and pick it up. Oh two weeks later no call, so I went there and no order was put in, ahh thank you princess. I utilized that saw a dozen time and the rubber tire for the drive wheel that the blade sits on keeps getting off making the blade slam in the cover and jam damaging the blade (30.00$ each).
    Anyway my advice is save a bit more money and buy a better quality saw at a store that the staff is more professional.

  59. GunZ McGraw says:

    Hit and miss at PA. Great place for cheap consumables like draw bar pins I’m forever loosing. Air compressor lines & fittings plus the hydraulic fluid power selection is great. Some tools are so so while others fail the first time. Case in point. I bought a hydraulic rebar cutter. Failed on the first cut. Blade snapped and damn near took my ear off. Best return policy of any store up here. For good reason 😉

  60. Greg says:

    Tools they sell are GARBAGE. Straight trash. There is a reason why they have that stupid return policy (which is widely abused by many customers) THE TOOLS BREAK AFTER YOU USE THEM. If they didnt have that return policy nobody would be shopping at this store.

    I worked there for a couple of years and Ive never seen so much stuff get returned that are broken. And they take back anything just to keep the customer happy and coming back to their shitty store. Half the compressors they sell their fail within the first year. And if you ever call and listen to the message when you are on hold about how employees are “trained” to give you “royal service” guess what, there is no such thing as training and royal service is just Princess Auto mumbo jumbo for UPSELL. They never trained me or educated me about any of thier useless tools (not that I gave a crap, I was there for the money)

    So ya if you want to waste your money on garbage visit your local Princess Auto location

  61. Greg says:

    Oh and whoever said the surplus section is so great..REALLY? Who buys random shit like nose hair trimmers from a place that sells garbage tools? Would you really trust something like that from retailer like this? LOL!!!

  62. Rod says:

    If you don’t like pa…. Don’t shop there. If you can’t tell a quality tool from crap then you’d better shop where the staff can tell you what you need. You get what you pay for, and there’s many times you only need a specialty tool once and don’t need top of the line, others are on budgets and can’t afford top of the line, some people need the tool now and can’t wait for other stores to order it.
    Chances are if you can’t keep a job at pa, you’re as good as those nose hair trimmers and faulty compressors. Many tools I’ve bought there later get replaced with better quality, after they’ve proved necessary. Who cares what’s in someone else’s tool box? It’s what’s in mine that I’m worried about. So if you don’t like me shopping there then you better call your mommy…. Maybe she cares. And if you can’t tell a good tool from a piece then maybe you should stick to your knitting!!

  63. Raging Ranter says:

    It’s a pretty good store. A lot of junk stuff, like many stores. Seems they all need to offer cheap stuff to compete and stay in business. But they have some quality too. A guy browses in that store for awhile, he starts to get ideas, if you know what I mean. I could drop thousands in there easily. 🙂 As for the name, royal names are common up here, so it’s no biggie, and the store is named after the original location in Winnipeg Manitoba, which was Princess Street. (Interestingly enough, some drag-queen type prostitutes used to congregate on and near that street, but I don’t think the name had anything to do with that – just a coincidence.)

  64. martin says:

    I love princess auto allot of it is low quality but it works i have good quality hand tools wrenches…. sockets but allot of the inbetween stuff i buy there and if i find i use a certain tool allot or it breaks ill buy it in snap on mac ect

  65. Robbo says:

    Just bought the two 52″ wide pro Point stacking tool chest from PA in Kelowna BC….found a small (fixable) ding on the top cabinet lid, so before loading onto my truck I showed the manager before I left with it. I was offered an immediate 20% discount on the unit, and without any quibbling……Great deal from PA, I am well pleased.

    Regarding the Pro Point tool chest, this beast is a brute to move and the upper chest alone weighs approx. 150 lbs and is as solid as a rock unlike the lighter duty ones I previously looked at at Canadian Tire…..the drawer glides are creamy smooth and I don’t care if it is made in China this bugger is solid and will do the job I want it for. I know their tools are not the highest end but I’m still using their smaller hand and pneumatic tools with some success years after purchasing them.

  66. Bill says:

    As many have pointed out, original business was an autowrecker on Princess St in Winnipeg. They branched out into army surplus and farm stuff in the 60s and moved to Panet Rd on the east side industrial – still have a location there. As years went by, added more surplus and Chinese stock – Power Fist started as real crap (but super cheap) tools, but steadily improved over the years (lots of other stuff either no name or orphaned stuff – lots of oddball tools that failed to find widespread markets and so ended up on PA shelves). And they started opening branches across Western and Easten Canada and in recent years added to Pro-point tool lines. Was involved in University research for many years – Princess is a great place to shop for IDEAS and pick up things that can be used to test/develop a concept.

    Peavey Mart in Saskatchewan and Alberta is a competitor in the cheap tools, but also carries a lot of farm and outdoor stuff and hardware/name brand tools

  67. ZPK says:

    Has anyone bought a chainsaw (new not refur)? The price is good but I can’t see the name of the manufacturer.

  68. Victor Zirk says:

    U bought an engine hoist recently from them here in Winnipeg n the thing peeled n buckled with a bare 350 cu in n the company blew it off like nothing. Almost got killed.be aware.

  69. Elisa says:

    nice game

  70. Johnny says:

    Princess Auto started out in Winnipeg on Princess Street, hence the princess in the name. It was originally an army surplus store that evolved. I know, I used to work there.

  71. Stephen P says:

    It’s true that it can be hit or miss with their power tools but I’ve had good service with the handtools like the Pro Point pass through rachet set which I use every couple days making adjustments on my treadle hammer, I have a ProPoint 3 1/2″ portable bandsaw which at the beginning was very frustrating, 1st 2 blades broke within minutes of using them, Tracking adjustment bolt’s end broke. And then the blades weren’t available. Fortunately there’re 3 stores within a couple of hours of me and I tracked a cache of blades at 1 store and bought 7 of them. So that means of course that I’ve been using the same blade for 4 months now! Oh well I have spares. I replaced the adjust bolt with a quality metric threaded rod, nut and washer and a metric adapter nut that you get with wire cup wheels. Tracks well now. And having it on a stand or using it handheld makes it the right bandsaw for my shop.The surplus section is great, bins, cables, motors, piston arms, and refurbished tools I haven’t had issues with them. My attempt with the cheapest paint sprayer was a disaster though, so it’s always a mixed bag with PA. I believe Princess Auto tools have a usable spot in the workshop but with other name brands as well.

  72. Hanrich says:

    Anyone know of a Harbor Freight equivalent in South Africa?

  73. A Boy Named Sue says:

    Couldn’t ride my wagon past without tossing my 2 cents on to the trail 🙂 Never occured to any of the men I know and obviously 99% of the Canucks on here to avoid a shop because of it’s name! Seriously? How nervous do you have to be about your knackers to be intimidated by a name?? lol?? Then again, a Canuck’s junk lives half it’s life fighting off freezing temperatures and the other half satisfying scorching hot women so nothing phases ’em ;p

    As for the endless yip-yap about PA’s gear being cheap China junk – ahem, but nearly EVERY single thing manufactured these days come from China. Every “high-end” brand – Dewalt, Bosch, Makita – you name it, is manufactured IN China for an American company. The only difference is the labelling and the quality control. Supposedly the bigger outfits pay a premium price to have their cut of the production run checked more closely, but anyone who’s paid $100’s for “brand name” gear and had it crap out 30 days will wonder if the QC guy was drunk that day and will still be arguing his return/warranty exchange with Home Depot (or wherever) while Princess Steel-nuts will be leaving the store with a brand new one, AND likely having spent the original purchase price again on a bunch more miscellanea to hide from the boss!

    Sure a contractor putting a tool through it’s paces can justify forking out 10X the cost for some equipment, but regular folks who need some gear that works a dozens times a year for life (and who don’t want to take out a second mortgage to buy that gear) aren’t likely to be too let down by a 20oz ripping hammer scored for $6 vs shelling out $22 for the same thing from the Big Orange. Not to mention the killer deals to be had in Surplus – where all things not on normal store shelves are waiting to be found…

  74. Bullsi says:

    I have been going to “Princess auto” for too many years ! why? They generally provide good service BUT because here in canuk land we have few choices for quality tools these days that are affordable. When I worked in the USA years ago I thankfully bought most of my high quality tools at great prices there which are still being used today. Today money here in CAN has low value and as a result we are overloaded with cheap china junk. Canadian Tire and PA are about it. Outrageous markups also!! Funny no franchises in USA !! Specs on quality of this stuff is for the most part unacceptably inferior. The reason PA can replace the high volume of products that buyers are dissatisfied with, is that PA pays very little for them for them. Markups are horrific! At least we support a communist country that treats their people worse than cattle. For me as I am quality conscious, I usually have to go through the entire rack of stock to find one with acceptable machining standard and then many times fail at that. Of course a high volume is returned for this reason. I agree that one would expect to be buying lingerie or at least supplies for an all girls garage at a place called princess auto no matter what street its named after !! ha

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