Image of Craftsman hand tools for sale

A year after buying Craftsman from Sears, Stanley Black & Decker has fulfilled its promise to make the tools from one of America’s most iconic brands more widely available.

Beginning May 14, you'll be able to buy some Craftsman tools at Lowe’s, in addition to existing outlets Sears and Kmart. Lowe’s is stocking its shelves with wrenches, hand tools, and tool storage systems in advance of Father’s Day, on June 17. And in the months to come, Craftsman says you’ll be able to find its outdoor power equipment at Lowe’s too. 

“At last count, Lowe’s has nearly three times as many brick-and-mortar retail stores as Sears,” says Courtney Pennicooke, a market analyst at Consumer Reports who oversees tools and outdoor power equipment. "This means that in many places it will be easier to find Craftsman tools."

What It Means for You

Craftsman is one of several brands that used to be exclusive to Sears, but have found their way to wider audiences. Last year, as part of its struggle to save its once-dominant retailing empire, Sears began selling Kenmore appliances and DieHard car batteries on Amazon.

More on Sears

Sears netted $900 million from the sale of Craftsman and at the time said it would use the money to restructure its flagging retail business. Despite the company's financial struggles, more than 15 percent of all hand tools sold in the U.S. are still purchased at Sears stores, according to TraQline, a firm that tracks trends, market share, and consumer behavior for the retail industry. But TraQline vice president Eric Voyer also sees a lot of potential growth online. 

"Online sales of hand tools have doubled since 2013, but levels are still less than half the average for the other 270 consumer durable products we track," says Voyer. "That potential for growth in online tool sales is causing retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's to improve their online strategy, and jumping at the chance to offer products from a top-performing brand, and expand their own product offering, may be part of the equation here for Lowe's." 

Whether you normally shop at Sears or Lowe's, the competition created by this new deal may mean you'll see discounts on Craftsman hand tools. And at Lowe's, Craftsman products will also have to compete against the home center's in-house brand, Kobalt, on price.

Will the Products Change?

The rollout at Lowe's begins with hand and power tools, which make up the biggest share of Craftsman’s sales—about 60 percent—with outdoor power equipment to follow by the end of summer. 

While Consumer Reports doesn’t test the hand tools or storage systems you’ll see first at Lowe’s, we have tested plenty of Craftsman outdoor power equipment over the years. Craftsman makes pressure washers, string trimmers, lawn mowers, chain saws, snow blowers, and leaf blowers, many of which, like the Craftsman 88976 snow blower, $1,600, the Craftsman 27042 riding mower, $2,200, and the Craftsman 34190 chain saw, $150, perform well enough for CR to recommend. 

Since its acquisition of Craftsman, Stanley Black & Decker has continued to manufacture the brand's tools at the same facilities or by contracting with the same third-party manufacturers. 

"In the short term, we think that means consumers can expect the Craftsman products to perform as they always have," says John Galeotafiore, who manages the testing for all outdoor power equipment at Consumer Reports. "But we’ll of course continue to test them and report on any major changes in performance or reliability that we find."

What About Warranties?

Stanley Black & Decker said in a press release that it intends to honor existing warranties and to continue offering similar warranties going forward. That was a question very much up in the air last year as the struggling brand continued to sell products that in some cases carry a lifetime warranty. Stanley Black & Decker's pledge may reassure consumers considering buying Craftsman tools.

"Craftsman is a brand built on pride," says Allison Nicolaidis, chief marketing officer for Global Tools and Storage at Stanley Black & Decker. "We're eager to introduce new Craftsman products that can be relied on by generations to come."