I've been searching for something for 30 years, and I could use your help. Maybe, if I described what I was looking for, we could find it together, because I think it's just around the corner from one of your jobsites or shops. I'm looking for The World's Best Tool Store.

"Oh sure," you say. "I go there all the time. I'll just call Rick and tell him where it is." And that's exactly what I want you to do, because I think you do know where it is. And yes, I do think you go there all the time. But let's call it The Best Tool Store – in your world.

You know the place; you walk through the door and feel like you've entered The Promised Land. The place you always love to go and never want to leave. It might be huge, with wide aisles and bright display cases loaded with the perfect tool for every job. Or it could be a hole in the wall, a tiny treasure of a family-owned store that hasn't changed in 50 years. Dark shelves overflow with tools and accessories, and you wonder how they jam so much into such a small space. But they've always got what you need, and somehow they know where to find it.

Broken tool? They'll fix it. Need a part? They've got it. They even have a guard for your 20 year-old Skil. They'll sharpen your blades, realign your table saw, or rebuild your compressor. And service? In spades.

Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief
Rick Schwolsky, Editor-in-Chief

At The Best Tool Store in your world, following a sales rep down an aisle is like getting lost and following a trusted friend home through the woods. It definitely is not where transient sales reps give you blank looks when you ask for specs, or act like they're doing you a favor by walking around the counter to show you something.

Sales reps at The Best Tool Store in your world try to match your needs with their knowledge to give you advice based on experience; they don't automatically point you towards the hottest selling brand. And that's another thing--they've got experience. They get to know you over time and they're able to steer you away from tools you won't be happy with. Heck, they might even take back tools that don't meet your needs or expectations when you get them out into the field. Like I said, "service."

Some of these stores have more than one location; others have survived for years in one old broken-down building. Some sell tools online and have great Web sites; others can't be bothered with the Internet. Some of these great stores even have "outside" sales and service, bringing tools and fasteners right to your jobsites. Imagine that.

So now that you know what I'm looking for, do you think you can help me out? Hanley Wood's Tools of the Trade is searching for the best tool stores we can find–in all shapes, sizes, and locations–to include in a new awards program we'll publish later this year. We want you to nominate your favorite store or supplier. We're looking for standouts. They can be really strong in one area or blow you away with everything they do. But you've got to be able to walk in and buy tools -- there's got to be a physical store.

Please e-mail your nominations to me at rschwolsky@hanley-wood.com or mail them to me at:
Tools of the Trade,
Search For World's Best Tool Store,
2409 Waneka Lake Trail,
Lafayette, CO 80026.

And be sure to let me know why you think you've found The Best Tool Store in your world. Thanks for your help.

Rick Schwolsky