Local hardware stores have disappeared across much of the United States. They have found it difficult to compete, price-wise, with the giant warehouse players like Home Depot and Lowe’s. To be clear, we love going to Home Depot and Lowe’s. We love the low prices, huge selections, and efficiency of it all. However, we also love competition. Because without it, we would have complacency, a “take the customer for granted-ness” mentality, and eventually, higher prices. It is because of that and many other reasons why we are happy that we have True Values hardware store in our neighborhood.
True Value is different from the big boys in many ways. First, True Value Company is a retailer-owned hardware cooperative with over 4,500 independent retail locations worldwide. Second, members of the True Value cooperative own their individual stores and operate independently of True Value Company. Third, the stores are smaller and generally in located right in town. Thus, they are an active part of the neighborhood, anchoring other businesses around it, and helping support the local ecosystem.
Communities are beginning to remember the value of “smaller.” However, being “smaller” does not mean being less competitive with the big boys. As a cooperative, the True Value Company tallied over $1.8 billion in revenue in 2010, offers over 60,000 products, and has 12 distribution centers. This all adds up to a lot of leverage when it comes to buying from wholesalers. This is the reason why True Value’s prices are very competitive. All they need to do is to get traffic into the stores.
One of the ways to get customers into the store is to offer them something they can’t get anywhere else. The Master Mechanic 18-Volt 3/8-Inch Variable-Speed Reversible (VSR) Cordless Drill is one such item. At $70 for the kit (drill, 2 batteries, charger, tote), this has to be one of the best value in heavy-duty drills on the market.
The specs for the Master Mechanic 18-Volt 3/8-Inch VSR Cordless Drill are:
- 18-volts with forward/reverse 2-speed ranges (0-350 RPM, 0-14,000 RPM)
- 3/8-inch metal keyless chuck
- 1-hour fast charger with auto shut-off
- Two 18V Ni-Cd Batteries
- All metal gearboxes
- Professional Grade Motor with Electric Brake
While this Master Mechanic drill has the muscle (18-Volt, 1.5Ah) for the pros, it is perfectly suitable for any home DIY-er. It is cordless so it goes anywhere. The 3/8-Inch keyless chuck makes it a snap to change bits. Multiple speed and variable torque translate into precise control. Ergonomic features (rubber grip, push-button reversibility, integrated level) make it easy and comfortable to use.
Readers with cordless tools have asked us about Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) vs Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Which is better, last longer, etc. We have always hemmed and hawed as it is kind of a “loaded” question. The answer kind of depends on the usage pattern. The “Ah” in the spec for a battery means “Amp hour.” So those interested in how long they can run the tool continuously before it poops out can extrapolate using that figure. Those interested in the battery’s durability and life span will get fuzzier answers. Li-ion is suppose to hold their charge longer when just sitting around. NiCd batteries tend to have a more negative slope to their power curve. This means users will notice a gradual power drop as the NiCd battery discharges instead of a sudden stop with no warning as with a Li-ion.
The advantages of NiCd for power tool applications is it can handle high current drain situations (you will appreciate that when you want to drive screws into pressure-treated outdoor decking), work well in cold-weather conditions, and will not burst into flames or explode if damaged (read: dropped or otherwise impacted).
The Master Mechanic 18-Volt 3/8-Inch VSR Cordless Drill comes with two NiCd batteries and a fast 1-hour recharger. The battery was designed to be easily removed with one hand, and it snaps into place with a satisfying positive click. It acts as a counterweight for the motor so the drill pivots neutrally around the trigger. It also enables the drill to be stood upright so it may be easily grabbed for use.
We like what we see in this Master Mechanic drill and will try to find some projects to push its limits. As some of you may have noticed, we are starting to pay some attention to gear from True Value. We like the True Value story. We will keep our eyes on offerings from these guys and check ’em out if we think they are worthy of mention. In the mean time, if you are fortunate to have a True Value store nearby, go in and say “Hi” to the owner. He may have just what you are looking for…DIY project-wise.