BY CASEY MURPHY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Glen and Shirley Hale leisurely strolled through the aisles Wednesday of Tyler’s newest store — Harbor Freight Tools.
Out of five stores that opened across the country Tuesday, including one in the Houston area, the Tyler store did the best, store manager Dan Fitzgerald said.
“We did very good yesterday,” he said Wednesday.
Mrs. Hale, 80, of Tyler, said she and her husband had never been to a Harbor Freight Tools store before and went to “see what all they had.”
“They have everything that a man would need,” she said. “And a woman.”
Fitzgerald, 43, started working part-time at Harbor Freight Tools in Albuquerque five years ago and has since helped open stores in at least 10 other states, including Washington, New York, Montana, Colorado and Massachusetts.
He believes the Tyler store will do well and said that while other stores might offer tools and other items to customers, Harbor Freight sticks solely to tools.
“We have had tremendous success with our current stores in the region,” Vice President of Real Estate and Development Trey Feiler said in an email. “Plus, since we have been overwhelmed by requests from Tyler customers to open a store in the area, we know that this area will be a great fit.”
Harbor Freight Tools has a store in Longview and 10 in the Dallas area.
The Tyler business will celebrate a grand opening on April 9, with select merchandise discounted as much as 80 percent when doors open at 8 a.m.
Harbor Freight Tools moved into the vacant 26,037-square-foot space that formerly housed Home Plus; Floors & More; and Cassity Jones Lumber.
Mark Whatley, of Burns Commercial Properties, represented the land owner and said Harbor Freight renovated and stocked the store in about a month.
Fitzgerald said they gutted the building to an empty warehouse and built it up from there. He said the Tyler store is about twice the size of most other Harbor Freight Tools.
“You won’t see a whole lot of other stores like this,” he said.
About a week leading up to its opening, he said people stopped by the store daily, asking when it was opening and excited that it was coming to Tyler.
“We are very excited to be opening the 46th Harbor Freight Tools store in Texas and look forward to being a member of the Tyler community,” President Eric Smidt said in a statement. “Our business model is simple: earn our customers’ business by offering quality tools at ridiculously low prices. In difficult economic times, our business and do-it-yourself customers are more cost-conscious than ever and Harbor Freight is here to help. Our tools are made in the same factories as many of the high-priced famous brands, but we cut out the middleman and sell them at a fraction of the price.”
Founded in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1977, Harbor Freight is now based in Calabasas, Calif., and has more than 475 stores nationwide. It stocks more than 7,000 items in categories including automotive, air and power tools, shop equipment and hand tools.