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You’re a Toolmonger, which means you likely know exactly where to buy the specific tools you desire. But what about all those “norms” out there who don’t? Here’s what I found walking through the “tool aisle” in a random Target in San Diego.

Hand Tools

Much like in Wal-Mart, Stanley Black & Decker pretty much dominates the tool selection. In terms of hand tools, Target selected the basics. They carry Stanley’s Lever Lock tapes in 25′, 15′, and 12′. These tapes stay locked when extended, then retract when you push the lever on the base in order to simplify single-person measurements — exactly the kind of thing you’re likely to do around the house, like measuring furniture or locating a spot to hang a picture. I also saw one standard-style-lock Max tape in 25′, probably targeted at people taking on small home woodworking projects. The cushion-grip screwdrivers look nice for home use as well, with padded grips — a problem if you’re going to really¬†crank down on ’em, but quite nice when you’re not. Target offered an eight-piece set as well as a single mid-sized standard and Phillips pack.

Though I saw a small Stanley bullet level, Target again went the home route offering the Black & Decker branded Accu-Mark 36″ level. The Accu-Mark incorporates movable “targets” which simplify hanging pictures: Hold the level to the back of your picture first and align the targets to your hangers. Then place the level on the wall — its “gecko grip” pads are supposed to hold it in place without marring the wall — align it to level, and mark your fastener points through the center of the targets. (There’s a “tour” video available on the linked page.)

I also noticed a pretty decent selection of pliers as well, including basic needle-nose, slip joint, locking, miniature, and of course standard. Though Target stocks the gadgety Autowrench and Ready Wrench, I also saw a standard Stanley adjustable, which would probably be a consumer’s best bet for “I just need to unbolt it” situations; to score true wrenches they’d have to buy one of the mechanic’s tool sets or the Black & Decker home project kit [What’s This?].

Tool Kits

Interestingly, Target chose to fill their mechanic’s tool set SKU slots with Durabuilt — a shame since (look for our reviews soon) we’re actually pretty impressed with Stanley’s new super-low-priced mechanic’s kits as found at Wal-Mart. We can certainly see how stores would push Stanley tapes — the product for which Stanley is most famous these days — but if Target’s dealing with SKU limitations, I’d personally rather see cheaper junk tapes and higher quality mechanic’s tools. Assuming one is actually going to do a little car work, I think one would appreciate the quality more in that environment.

One complaint: Enough with the damn pink tools. Other than outside the U.S. in places where pink has other meanings, I haven’t run into anyone, male or female, who wants to buy pink tools. Though I’m sure there are exceptions, most women I’ve met don’t like the pandering feel they get from “for women” tool kits, believing instead that women can use the same tools as men. And though I can’t speak to the specific Apollo set I saw at Target, in many cases these “for women” tools aren’t of the same quality as other sets.

Power Tools

Power tools are all Black & Decker: a 14.4v drill/driver in the project kit, and 9.6v, 14.4v, and 18v drill/drivers sold separately as well as a single corded model (probably the best bet, by the way). You’ll also find B&D’s Handysaw and multiple cordless screwdrivers as well as lots of accessories.


You can peruse the pictures to get an idea of the rest, but my verdict: It’s nothin’ fancy, but you could actually do quite a bit with what you’d find at this particular Target. Sure, I’d probably choose different stuff (at least for some of it) if I indeed had a choice. But if I stumbled in here while visiting a friend and wanted to, say, do some work around the house or fix something simple with the car, I could probably get it done. Pricing doesn’t seem that far out of line with what I found poking around online, either.

Any interesting finds in the aisles of your local shops? Drop us a line either in comments or via our contact form.


9 Responses to Aisle Walk: San Diego Target

  1. Chris says:

    Junk. Spend 5 dollars more and get a hand tool with a real warranty which you will never have to claim.

    Wal-Mart/Target tool aisles take advantage of people who don’t know better and will most likely rarely use the tool.

    Stanley hand tools at wal-mart have a limited 2 year warranty proudly displayed on a yellow tag. This has always cheapened the stanley brand in my eyes because you have to check the packaging at every store to make sure you are not purchasing the “junk” branded stanley tools which are usually made in china instead of the fatmax or decent stanley tools in taiwan. Many of which are suspect in quality themselves and are usually next to a channellock (Professional quality USA made) or cooper (Also hit and miss) product for about the same price in a hardware store. Then there is Irwin (Sellouts), Don’t get me started on Irwin.

  2. TMIB_Seattle says:

    A friend of mine once used to do contractor work. She spray painted a lot of her tools bright pink, as it kept them from walking off or being used by the guys on the job site. She was quite happy with her bright pink sawzall.

    She also had a pink crowbar that she named “Gentle Feminine Pursuasion”. She would be known to look at a problem, crack her knuckles and say, “this situation calls for the application of some Gentle Feminine Pursuasion.”

  3. donutboy says:

    I disagree a little on this one. It’s not that folks at the wal-mart / targets “don’t know better”, it’s more like they understand how much they are going to use the tool and see the ROI. Some of these tools at these boxes are going to last the user a life time, not all users, but some. Also it is a matter of what was open at the time that they needed the tape, wrench, drill bit, or sander. My local stores close @ 6 and my nearest Home Depot is 40 miles away. My wal-mart is 5 and is open till 11.

  4. PutnamEco says:

    I was recently shocked to see Channellocks in Walmart, not a large selection mind you, but the did have some water pump, standard and linemans pliers. They also have some even cheaper brand than Stanley, whose name escapes me at the moment. Most Walmarts do stock some Dremmels as well, they usally have the lowest prices on what they do stock. Handy if your out in the field and need some cut off bits and don’t have a big orange or blue box around.

  5. joe l says:

    I actually know several people in my welding class who have pink tools for the same reason that TMIB_Seattle states. One of them has an entire garage full of pink or neon green tools (either bought or painted himself). Most of us have had one tool or another gone missing at school, but not these guys.

  6. fred says:

    Nothing surprising here. The selection seems to complement the other goods sold at Target. So you can spend your money in the store on curtain rods or wall hangings – or maybe even a new showerhead and not have to run off to spend money elsewhere to buy the tools to install them

  7. GadgetLovingGeezer says:

    Target used to carry a much wider variety of flashlights, knives, and multi tools before the Great Recession. Scored some great deals back then.

  8. zoomzoomjeff says:

    I’ll admit that with me, I believe it’s more about ego. No matter the quality of the tools, I’d be too ashamed to buy man-tough tools at…….Target. Rather walk out of Home Depot or Menards with what I need and feel cool.

    There, I said it.

  9. Toolfreak says:

    The Stanley/B&D tools at Target, Walmart, etc are okay. Except for the screwdrivers. Those seem to be terrible.

    Thing is, they are really poor deals when it comes to buying tools. You can get the “Task Force” brand at Lowe’s or the “eVolv” brand at Sears, which both come with a keep-your-receipt “lifetime warranty”. Obviously not as nice as the real lifetime warranty tools, but a heck of a deal for decent quality tools for those who probably don’t need more.

    The quality of this stuff is pretty funny compared to stuff just a few years ago. Stanley used to sell “Professional” wrenches in Walmart that were ~$49 and were GREAT. They went to a smaller wrench set recently, but now those are gone too. Now you’re left buying 3 different sets to have 11-13 wrenches, and for about what you could have bought the Professional ones for before.

    Heck, I used to be able to get pretty decent India-made wrenches for cheap at a dollar store or something. Now a worse set at walmart is $10. Geez. You can still get China-made Danaher wrenches in pouches at Sears for ~$7.99 (hell of a deal), though.

    But as mentioned, I do agree these tools are mostly there for a purchase to go with other stuff people are buying, and so they “save” money buying a cheap tool that will probably take care of what they need it for, and maybe get some use out of them later. I’m not ashamed of buying cheap tools at Walmart or Target though, I’ve bought a few things at 75% off or more (Including a B&D LED worklight that uses AA batteries, which is GREAT) and they make for great cheap tools.

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