Main Motorcycle: '06 Speed Triple
Join Date: May 2010
Other Motorcycle: '96 Adventurer Cafe Racer
Extra Motorcycle: Not any more
While I like the idea of 'made in america', I'm not one to bang the drum about it overly much. I'm willing to pay a premium for a product from my country for the obvious economic reasons, but only if it offers me something in return - i.e. it's a better product. I don't blindly 'buy american'.
I do think in the tool market in particular though, there is a high degree of patriotism if not outright jingoism. Regardless of political or personal belief, I would think Sears could easily make a business case for 'made in america' tools.
But the sad fact is Sears has been getting cheaper and cheaper with their tool offerings. Examples already pointed out are the 'evolv' brand which is outright junk and in my opinion drags down the image of all the Craftsman offerings just by being in the same store with them, and the changing of suppliers for many of the Craftsman branded products to companies like Danaher who produce cheaper (and yes, often Chinese) versions of products once better made right here in the US.
They've also come to rely more and more on 'gimmick' tools; things that look like an all-singing, all-dancing one-size-fits-all solution. These sort of things come out every year at this time aimed at the gift market. I'm sure every guy has gotten something like this for Christmas at some point, likely from a female (or at least non-tool-using) member of the family who thought 'gee, Don likes to work on things...I'll get him this'. Good intentions, but bad execution as those sort of "tools" are invariably junk that end up getting tossed.
For a long time, Sears and the Craftsman brand were quality tools that the hard-core home/farm users could count on. They made their name by offering a wider selection of good quality at the upper-middle price range and they brought them to the masses by virtue of their many stores and catalog options. They were the first commonly available brand to offer the lifetime warranty, and they stood behind it without question.
There have always been better tools available at a premium from people like Matco or Snap-On, but the average guy didn't have easy access to these professional brands, and likely didn't actually need that level of quality or want to pay that level of price.
And there have always been cheaper brands available from any old hardware store, but they were of dodgy quality and selections were poor.
With the rise of cheap brands offering 'lifetime warranties' (though seldom as well implemented as Craftsman even today) Sears has taken a huge hit, and not just with it's tools. (Didn't they file Chapter 11 a few years ago?) Instead of sticking to what made the Craftsman brand as revered as it is, they started trading on that name and cutting quality in an attempt to gain market share. Sadly that seems to be destroying one of the great american tool brands.
They still offer some good quality tools at reasonable prices, but they are harder and harder to find among the gimmicks and cost-cutting going on today.
Once a reputation is damaged, it's very hard to bring back. Right now I'd say the Craftsman name is at the tipping point of loosing it's reputation entirely. Serious tool users (both home and pro) know what's what and understand where Craftsman exists in the overall spectrum both in the past and today. They've largely turned away from the brand. The general public still has an image of Craftsman as a quality tool, but they are beginning to realize - as pointed out by discussions like this - that the brand isn't what it once was. Sears needs to act NOW if they want to save the brand, and even at that it will take years to bring the general image back up to the level of respect it had in our fathers' time. They can still do it, but I fear they won't as it represents a long-term investment to rebuild their reputation and most executives are more interested in just turning a profit next quarter. If they let too many more years go by of poorer and poorer tool offerings the Craftsman name will loose all it's value. At that point I don't think they'll ever revive it.
'06 Speed Triple
'96 Adventurer Cafe Racer
and a bunch of other stuff
If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough - Mario Andretti
Last edited by zelatore; 12-09-2012 at 02:10 AM.