This month, Sears began selling Craftsman tools through Costco club outlets, including hand tools, power tools, and tool storage units. It’s not the first time the company has sold its products through potential competitors — K-Mart picked up Craftsman products after the companies merged*, and Orchard Supply Hardware in California, Fastenal retail outlets, and AAFES all carry Craftsman. Even a number of ACE Hardware stores recently started carrying the line.
Sears is reaching out essentially to one of its own major competitors — Sears Holdings is ranked #10 on the National Retail Foundations’s Top 100 Retailers list. Competitors Home Depot (#5 on the list) and Lowe’s (#8) still don’t cross streams with Sears, but Costco’s in the top ten, too, at #6, doing almost double the retail sales in the U.S. and worldwide last year. And now, by the end of the year, all 430 Costco outlets will carry the Craftsman line.
The other elephant in the room: Amazon.com, which saw a whopping 46% increase in retail sales between 2009-2010, and who also sells Craftsman. This makes sense to me — once I went Prime, I never went back, and anecdotally, the same seems to be true of a lot of folks. Could giant retailers like Amazon or Costco outsell longtime companies like Sears with their own products? And how might this move affect Craftsman in terms of quality or warranty? Let us know what you think in comments.
Thanks to Flickr user tedmurphy for the great CC-licensed photo.
*The initial version of the post indicated that Sears had purchased K-Mart. In fact, K-Mart bought Sears, and the new company was named Sears Holdings. (Thanks, Kevin!)