Yes, we shop at Harbor Freight. Actually, we buy quite a few things at Harbor Freight. Now, before you start showing your tool prejudice and muttering to yourself that your would never buy the “cheap stuff” (paraphrasing here, you probably didn’t use the word “stuff” did you?) at Harbor Freight, you need to realize that everyone carries tools manufactured in China these days. Check out the “made in” labels. Do you really think the tools from the big box stores come from a factory in China that’s somehow much better than the one(s) that makes Harbor Freight tools?
Maybe you didn’t know that most of the hand tools from Harbor Freight have a lifetime warranty – same as Craftsman tools. You can also get out on their website and read the reviews for any tool you might be considering. There are many tools, both hand tools and power tools, at Harbor Freight that get excellent reviews from users and professional testers such as car and truck magazines.
There are some things we would probably not buy at Harbor Freight, but there are lots of things we have bought and have had great success with. The best tool buying opportunities at Harbor Freight are those where you need a certain tool to do an immediate project. You go to Harbor Freight, buy the tool you need and go home and use it immediately. They have a 90 day return policy on most power tools. (Some larger items have a restocking fee, such as generators, so you won’t just use an expensive item like a generator for a single job then take it back.)
If you use the tool for your project and find it doesn’t do the job – take it back! What have you lost but time? You can always go get something more expensive if it doesn’t work. We have read plenty reviews of far more expensive tools from the big box stores that don’t fair any better (and sometimes far worse) than the tools at Harbor Freight.
Harbor Freight Coupons
We get Harbor Freight coupons in various ways. The easiest way is the circular that shows up in our mailbox about once every two weeks. These have their best deals on frequently purchased items, to get you to go into the store. Each circular has a 20-25% off coupon good for a single item and a coupon good for a free item like a flashlight or scissors.
Tip – If you look in the trash at your local post office, you may find dozens of Harbor Freight coupons that have been discarded as people pull their mail out of their post office box. You need to know what day of the week the coupons come in your area to be successful at finding a bunch of coupons.
The next place we get coupons is from the big (also about every two weeks) sales circular that comes by mail. You can get on the mailing list for this by filling out your information at the Harbor Freight web site. It shows hundreds of items that are on sale for the month and also contains coupons that are usually good for 20% off your entire purchase if you spend more than a certain amount – usually around $75-100. These mailers also have “super coupons” that a a better deal that the usual sale items. For example, there might be a set of pliers that are normally $24 that are frequently on sale for $19, but with the super coupon they are $14 for a limited time.
When we’re expecting to buy a lot of things in a short time at Harbor Freight, we go to ebay and buy coupons. You aren’t really buying coupons, you’re paying for the time of the person who gathered up the coupons and clipped them out for you. You can get 20 coupons with an expiration date at least a month away for under $2 postage paid. Read on to see just why we would pay money for coupons.
How to Get The Best Deal
Now to the actual money-savings part. Have patience. Wait for the product you need to go on sale. Some sales are better than others. If you read the circulars regularly, you will be able to identify when the items are at their cheapest purchase price. This kind of couponing works best if your local Harbor Freight is directly between two destinations you frequent. Even though we live 50 miles outside the nearest city large enough to have a Harbor Freight, work takes us within a mile of a Harbor Freight every weekday.
Although it’s a little crazy, we stop several times a week and purchase only one item at a time. Since we have a constant flow of 20-25% off coupons and free item coupons, we use one every trip.
Just one example of how we saved some decent money was putting together our “drawers of hardware.” You can see an example in the photo that goes with this article. We purchased several (eight total) of item #93928 20 Bin Portable Parts Storage Case. These cases are cool because the individual storage areas are little boxes that come out of the actual storage case. This way you can locate the hardware you need to use, then take out only the boxes you need to take with you to the project area. Eight of these will hold 160 different kinds and/or sizes of hardware. We keep mostly specialty hardware in these, as we use much larger bins for screws, nails, nuts, bolts, etc. You are much more likely to find t-nuts, wing nuts, insulated cable restraints, etc. (Tip – we get these small parts out of those little divided squares with a magnet. It’s the easiest way we’ve found.)
Anyway, these cases are normally $13.99 and currently (May 2014) on sale for $7.99. (We have also seen these on sale for $5.99, but not lately) With a 20% off coupon, they are $6.40. With tax, they are back up to $6.91 – still more than a buck cheaper than the sale price and each trip we get a free item like a pair of scissors. Eight cases saved us an additional $8.64 off the sale price and we got 4 pairs of scissors, 2 flashlights, 1 digital multimeter, and 1 extension cord.
One more tip – If you are planning to buy something at Harbor Freight that costs more than $20, you should always check for an online sales price. Sometimes it is a buck or two cheaper than the circular price. If you print out the website page with the cheaper price and take it with you to the store, they will usually honor that better deal for you. (We never been turned down when we’ve done this.)
Read our upcoming article on what you can do with all the free stuff you get at Harbor Freight. PLEASE comment and leave details if you know a better way to get discounts at Harbor Freight.