Woodworkers of old (of more than a decade, anyway) may remember the Tool Crib of the North (TCN) as among the premier online dealers in woodworking tools and supplies. Well before he was editor (and before he dove headfirst into the hand tool world), Christopher Schwarz relied on the expertise of the company’s call center staff when making machinery purchases , because, with more than 60 years of expertise as a company, Tool Crib of the North’s employees knew far more than he did, and Chris (among many others) could always rely on them for excellent buying advice.
The successful company attracted notice from the business world as well, and 11 years ago, TCN was acquired by Amazon.com , one of that online retailer’s first forays beyond books , and TCN signed a non-compete agreement that took them offline (though they still had 10 retail stores in North Dakota, Minnesota and other Midwest locations). While the tools were still available, the expertise wasn’t (have you ever talked to a live person at Amazon.com?).
But now, the non-compete agreement has expired, and the venerable company is back online as of February 8 (and still in bricks in mortar) as Acme Tools (acmetools.com).
“Over the last five years, we’ve worked on expanding our retail stores into Minnesota and Iowa and so we’ve built the Acme brand in the Midwest region,” says company Vice President Steve Kuhlman. “And now, with the non-compete release, we’re utilizing that brand on the web site and are able to market it nationally.”
Kuhlman and his brother Paul Kuhlman (also a vice president) stress Acme Tools’ long-term relationship with their 60 outside salesman who know the markets inside and out, and have helped shape the online product information. But if you need more information than what you find on the web site, Acme also has a customer call center where you can not only place an order, but get detailed information on any of the products or brands the company carries (online right now are more than 10,000 key items from 147 manufacturers). “These people have experience in the industry, and product knowledge and training,” says Steve Kuhlman. “We’re able to answer any questions from our customers.”
While the site is an excellent source for woodworking items, Acme Tools also offers stuff for other trades , plumbing, roofing, siding, drywall and plastering and more , and one of the most inviting features of the site is the “Shop by Trade” area, which categorizes the tools trade professionals actually use; Paul Kuhlman says they’ll continue to grow that feature. “If you’re a woodworker, a drywaller, a tileworker, you’ll be able to click on the trade and see the products that those who do the job really care about,” he says.
The number of manufacturers carried by Acme is really too long to list, but from Bosch to Porter-Cable, Freud to Gorilla Glue, you’re likely to find the power equipment and shop supplies you need. And if you don’t know exactly what you want, help is only a phone call away.