Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tool Lady

A post on the Creative Bead Chat Group on Facebook recently got me to thinking about women in the "Tool World."  You see I just happen to work in that world and it truly is a different kind place.  I am the Merchandising Manager at Harbor Freight Tools in my hometown.

I have worked there almost a year now and I wanted to share a few things I have learned.  One thing I wanted to point out is that it really is a "Man's World."  The majority of our customers are men and sadly most of them still believe that a woman is not going to know anything about tools!  I have even had several male customers ask me outright if there was a man they could talk to!


I have to admit I knew almost nothing about tools when I started and while I have learned a lot I still have a long way to go. One of the things that I would most like to point out is the "Tool Culture."  I know what you are thinking, "How can tools have a culture?"  But they do!  Tools have several different names for example.  Or Tool Slang as I like to call it.  For example this is a Shop Crane:

2 Ton Foldable Shop Crane
Now this one item has so many different names it is crazy!  The most common one that I have heard is called a "Cherry Picker".  Some also call it a "Boom Lift", a "Basket Lift", even a "HydraLadder"!  When I first started in the "tool world" and someone asked me for a cherry picker I was a bit lost, because HFT refers to this as a shop crane.  See what I mean?   It can be kind of confusing!

I have recently been expanding the list of tools that I want to purchase because I want to try my hand at metalworking in jewelry thanks to inspiration from Melinda Orr.  So I have been slowly adding things to my tools like tin snips and sanding blocks and steel wool.  And don't forget the trusty Ball Pein Hammer lol!

I am finding that in the tool world it is a very intimidating place sometimes for women.  I have seen women ask male employees for help and watched the males attitude really become condescending.  It seems to me from my experience that when it comes to tools a woman would still rather have a man help them if they are not very comfortable in what they are talking about.  Which really surprises me!  So it is not just the men that have that sexist attitude towards women in tools but also women as well!

Now do not get me wrong, not all men, or women for that matter, have that kind of attitude regarding women and tools but it does happen more often than not.  On the other hand I really get a kick out of it when a man asks me for an item and he thinks I am going to be clueless and I happen to know more about that item than he does.  So I guess I am helping to change the culture of tools, one man at a time.  Ha!

Oh and for you folks that want to know about the quality of HFT Tools......

Well to be honest you win some (more often than not) and you lose some but the prices cannot be beat.  The employees there will always be happy to give you their opinion on the product before you buy it.  And we do have a very liberal return policy as long as you have a receipt (90 Days).  We also offer replacement (covers everything but loss or theft) plans on most items that extend that up to two years!  And yes pretty much everything we carry is made in China, which I have to admit I am not crazy about but it does seem to be the norm these days :(  Oh and please for no reason what-so-ever should you ever purchase anything from HFT without one of these babies:

It works on Sale prices too!

Which you can find almost anywhere on the web including the Digital Savings Page on HFT's Facebook Page!  These coupons change every month and always check your expiration date on them!

So to wrap this up, one thing to keep in mind is that some people will always be more knowledgeable about certain types of tools than others regardless of sex.  For example if you ask me about what tools are needed to work on cars....well.....I am pretty clueless on that.  However just from learning from our customers if you ask me about a fork you need for your Tie Rods than I am going to know that you need one of these:

I just may not know how to use it!  So if you go tool shopping just tell the salesperson what you are wanting to do and if that person cannot help you just ask if someone is there that is more knowledgeable about what you are looking for!  Do not allow all the different tools to overwhelm you!  Remember Knowledge is Power! 

I do love my job!  I do like working in what most consider a "Man's World."  I want to put a footnote in saying I do not know what HFT's policy is regarding using the images (copyright) from their website or my opinions on it.  But I DO NOT want to lose my job over this post lol.  Thanks so much for joining me on this post.  I hope you are able to take away something from it.  And if you ever have any questions about tools know that I am here to help!

Peace and <3

P.S.  Lori Anderson's wonderful ebook about blogging called "Follow the Path"  really helped me with this post!  So Thank You Lori!


  1. Post on, Tool Lady!

  2. Oh WOW you lucky girl! I order from Harbor Freight for various things!

    (And I'm glad you liked the eBook!)

  3. Hi Marla,
    I will get help from whomever is willing to give it. I find that when I go into places like hardware stores, auto supply stores, or home improvement stores, looking for something that I need help with it seems like the sales people scatter like roaches when the light comes on LOL! Except for in furniture stores then you have to fight them off!

  4. This is a wonderful post! I honestly have to say that everything I ever learned aboout a tool...was taught first by my dad...then I tried it on my own...then my hubby and father inlaw...didn't do so good on my, that being said...I have taught them all a few ways of using those tools that they never had considered and I can always spot a piece of bronze over a brass any day... hubby just doesn't have the eye for it! So ladies....just remember behind every tool minded man is a totally creative women..:-)Know your place...smiles :-)

  5. Thanks for writing this, Marla. Hopefully your HF folks will know you are bringing in a whole lot of customers with you and support your online efforts rather than discourage them! (You could have your own column on the blog!) Your advice today, and mentioned here as well, about knowing there can be multiple names for a tool is an enlightening one for me and I'm going to keep this in mind when I go looking for the tools I'm currently needing (and all the others after that)! I appreciate all I'm learning about tools from you, Melinda, Lori, and my local HF staff! Thanks much! --Sharyl

  6. This brought some wonderful memories of being sent to a fabricating place to pick things up for my dad. Oh yeah, 19 years old and knowing nothing about what I should pick up. I'm more confident now so I can enter hft with the best of them....

  7. Great post~ thanks for the heads up on Harbor Freight coupons! Got my 20% off coupon and planning to get my Tumbler on sale!

    I also blame Melinda Orr for my newfound tool lust. LOL... Quite an inspiration she is with all that talent, and such a blessing that she so freely shares with us. <3

    Thanks again! And, I would think HF would be happy over you sharing their store, their FB and their coupons, because you're only bringing them more business. Good job... ;)

  8. Great post. I still have my dad's ball peen hammer. It is a prized possession. I have always been intimidated by power tools but I'm slowing getting out of that. Having always had men around that new how to handle tools I never took a real interest until I started making jewelry. Now I'm slowly building my arsenal.

  9. YOU ROCK! Keep making us look good.

  10. Hahaha! I love this for various reasons, mostly because I worked in retail management forEVER....secondly, because I absolutely loathe going to tool stores or hardware stores because of exactly the reasons you mentioned....not to mention a lot of unsavory male customers seem to think it's a completely appropriate place to pick woman up and show their male prowess about their knowledge of tools. (((rolls eyes))) Unfortunately my closest HFT is about a 40 minute drive through nasty suburban traffic....but I'm glad you're rep-in' chicks in the tool world!