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Tool Shoppers Get Another Brand to Consider

Roy Berendsohn
Photo credit: Courtesy

From Popular Mechanics

Walmart has been selling tools for years, and with the holiday season about to swing into high gear, it announced this week that it’s getting more heavily into the category with the introduction of a line of cordless and corded power tools, hand tools, and accessories under the Hart brand. You can have a full look at the selection here.

The line is extensive, competitively priced, and may be attractive to shoppers who already find themselves in one of the retailer’s 4,759 locations in the U.S. Time-starved gift givers can pick up a hoodie, and a few aisles away put a cordless drill into their cart. It seems obvious that Walmart’s enormous retail footprint gives it considerable leverage in putting the brand in front of its shoppers.

Hart and You

As anybody in retail will tell you, the landscape is crowded and getting more complicated by the minute, especially with Amazon playing a greater role in all shopping decisions. No one can say yet whether Hart will shake up the tool business or be another player on the crowded retail landscape. But we think the story gets more interesting when you know that the Hart brand is owned by Hong Kong–based TTI, an extremely experienced operator in the hand tool and power tool space, with $3.7 billion in revenue in the first half of 2019. Its CEO is Joe Galli, the guy most responsible for the rebranding launch of DeWalt in 1992; it transformed DeWalt from an obscure brand of radial arm saws to a power-tool powerhouse.

Hart was founded in California in 1983 to make advanced forms of framing hammers; TTI bought it in 2007 to fill out its hand-tool offerings. TTI also owns such well-regarded makes of power tools and electric home appliances as Milwaukee Electric Tool, Ryobi, Hoover, Oreck, and Dirt Devil.­

So in terms of an experienced partner across a wide swath of the tool and retail landscape, it looks like Walmart came to the right place.

Cost Comparisons

Direct cost comparisons can be tricky because subtleties may be hiding in the price. The Hart brand has premium cordless tools that have brushless motors, but the majority have standard brushed-type motors. A tool’s size, weight, and the specifics of its construction also affect its price.

But using broad brushstrokes, it’s safe to say that Hart’s initial launch looks very carefully considered and that almost everything in the line is seen as a direct replacement for some other brand’s product. The Hart line consists of 60 power tools, 40 outdoor tools, 170 hand tools and 70 power tool accessories—all of them priced approximately equal to or a shade less or more than the competition.

Some Specifics:
Hart’s 25-foot tape measure is $9.88; the Stanley Fat Max version at The Home Depot is $8.70; Hart’s magnetic end pro tape is $13.88, while a U.S.-made Stanley Fat Max is $22.97. A Craftsman 320-piece mechanic’s tool set costs $163.39; the 215-piece Hart version is $148. Another equivalency: a two-battery Craftsman drill-driver/impact driver kit costs $99; a single-battery Hart kit costs $94. Both the Hart and Craftsman tools have standard brushed motors.

But are Hart tools any good? We’ll find out. We’re going to get some and test drive them to let you know.

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