Of late I’ve been shopping for a cordless hammer drill, as my trusty 18 volt Milwaukee doesn’t do much in the way of drilling holes in concrete. And given that I dwell in a concrete cave AKA earth sheltered house, the ability to put holes through concrete is important. My shopping has been rather fruitless, as there hasn’t been much to choose between, and that’s how I learned of the takeover in power tools.

Now for years we’ve had a handful of choices in cordless power tools- DeWalt, Porter-Cable, Makita, Milwaukee… But that choice is fading. Even in the small town farm & hardware stores DeWalt suddenly has it’s own little department. Next to DeWalt with a fair amount of shelf space is Porter-Cable, which is owned by the same company as DeWalt, Stanley. And given barely one vertical stack of shelves are Milwaukee and Makita, forlorn and forgotten.

That’s just  “slotting”, which is a fancy term for the brand paying the retailer for prime display space. Don’t provide this payolla, and your brand will be stick in a back corner if not thrown out the back door. Then there’s the promotions- generous allowances for competing brand tools, dead or alive. Free batteries and accessories AND 20% off.

Then there’s the sales staff… yup, they may be getting P.A.s (Promotional Allowances) too. When you’re a minimum wage retail drone, a couple bucks bonus for selling a given brand’s widget or power tool goes a long way. I saw this in action yesterday, as a middle aged woman, probably trying her best to satisfy her gearhead relative for christmas, asked the clerk for a “Sawzall”. Last I remember, “Sawzall” was a Milwaukee trademark, and I believe they in fact invented this most useful tool. Said clerk, who was standing right in front of the shrunken Milwaukee tool display, without blinking an eye pivoted and showed the customer a DeWalt clone of a Sawzall… Ka-Ching!

So goes the takeover in power tools, just as WalMart took over retailing with loss leader prices and now soaks us, having bought market supremecy by running much of their competition into the ground. And in a couple years your only choice in the power tool aisle will be between Stanley’s DeWalt or “premium” Porter-Cable brands and what voltage and features you want.

They’ll have to pry my Milwaukee power tools from my cold, dead hands.