Craftsman Power and Hand Tools, 1999-2000

Serious craftsmen can never get enough of heavy-duty tools and equipment, such as band saws, hammer drills, pneumatic nailers, and stick welders. Wood- and metal-shop workers also need less sexy hand tools, such as screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers. The Silver Award-winning Craftsman Power and Hand Tools catalog from Sears Shop at Home sells all of the above – and much more.

Starting with its front cover, the Craftsman catalog works hard to make tools glamorous. The cover – a close-up of a reciprocating saw cutting through a metal pipe – certainly succeeds, while the provocative caption, “Heavy-duty professional saw packs 8 amps of demolition power,” gets readers into the book. “Even tools can be enticing with the use of dramatic photos,” noted one judge. The inside spread continues the drama with a three-panel gatefold selling heavy-hitter items, such as a professional table saw.

Inside the Craftsman catalog, the photos – primarily straight product shots – are considerably less exciting than the cover shot. But the merchandise selection is as comprehensive as they come. Customers will find every imaginable tool and gadget. “There’s certainly no gap in the product assortment – it’s incredibly efficient,” commented a judge. Indeed, added another panelist, “mechanics are in heaven” when they pick up this book.

But at times, Craftsman’s vast assortment is too much of a good thing, at least for a 182-page catalog. Some pages are simply too cluttered, one judge said. For instance, incredibly, one spread depicts the entire contents of two professional tool sets – one with 1,041 pieces, the other with 1,103 pieces. With so many products on a page, plus call-outs for new products and sale items, “it’s overwhelming,” complained the judge.

The catalog can also be difficult to read because the type size is too small, and the paper of the inside pages is low quality, one judge said. But another panelist noted that the book’s “no frills” look suits the Sears/Craftsman brand. Moreover, the judge added, “the copy gives you the technical specs that you need, not the bull that you don’t need.”

And the cataloger makes it easy to order by providing its phone number, fax number and Website address on every other page. Plus, the company’s money back guarantee is “customer friendly and very motivating,” a judge said.

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