Been lookin’ for some ratchets and sockets for my box, seems like my best ones are in the $150 Craftsman tool set that lives in whatever car I’m driving at the time. That means I’m often running out to the car and draggin’ them into the shop to work on the project du jour. Thus I’ve been watchin’ Sear’s ads for a deal, maybe even go big and get the popular 309 piece set that goes for $200 it seems like at least one week a month. Observing lots of sale traffic on the Craftsman, garage journal, etc. websites, I planned on a serious foray into Sears on my Costco run to Sioux Falls yesterday.

Now the mall Sear’s tool department (maybe a cluster would be better term?) becomes more of a carnival every day. Their latest kink is arrangements of quarter pallet cardboard displays in bright holiday red, lain with chromed tools… Yup, gearhead candy! But I pick up these tasty lookin’ morsels and read the fine print… “Made in China”… Yuk, what a nasty aftertaste! Now wasn’t that long ago that dang near the whole Craftsman line was made in USA, often by name brand manufacturers whose own name brand products sold for a lot more. But Sear’s tool cluster has become pretty much an upmarket Harbor Freight, and I could barely find anything USA made or even made in a democracy. Even the 309 piece set was “Made in China”, and to get an all USA tool set you had to spend over $500, and that was on sale… Might as well check out Snap-On at those prices.

So I left Sears and all their marvelously displayed Chinese junk and headed on to Costco in pursuit of groceries and such. Middle of the month and the bank balance is still pretty positive, so I throw a ream of paper and another of those LED lightbulbs that’s working so well in my shop in the cart. Round the corner into the tool/shop/generators/etc. aisle and take my usual look at the toys… Sorry, can’t help myself. Well, here they’ve got the same Craftsman 150 odd piece kit with the couple ratchets and most of the sockets I need, and I hadn’t noticed this before… A little american flag and “Made in the USA” on the label!ImageNone too shabby… 3/8″ & 1/2″ ratchets with sockets up to 19mm. & 3/4″, extensions, spark plug socket, a few but not enough wrenches, etc.. ‘Nough room to supplement with more wrenches, a few bigger sockets, a hammer, channel locks, etc.. And at 18 pounds, a lot easier on my rack’d back than the 50 pound mini box I’ve been shuffling around!

So yes, Sears, the “mother ship” of Craftsman, has sold out and become an emporium of craptastic Chinese toy tools. But for a nickel or so short of a hundred bucks plus local taxes, Costco comes through with made in USA quality! This wasn’t old stock either- this Costco’s only been open for about a month, and the bags holding the tools had date codes in the October 2013 range… So while Sears is slouching on quality, Costco is standing tall. And if you don’t think you’ll use that Costco membership fee for anything else, you can stop at customer service on the way outa the store and get a full refund.

But you’ll use that card again to stock up on victuals for tech day, etc… Costco, what’s not to like?