With its light-blue packaging and
appeal, the line of power tools known as Barbara K is
specifically marketed to women. But the Orchard Supply Hardware
store in Gilroy sent most of its stock back to the manufacturer.
Why? Because women don’t want to feel inferior
– they want to use the same tools as men, said Judi Taylor, a
sales associate at OSH in Gilroy.
With its light-blue packaging and “feminine” appeal, the line of power tools known as Barbara K is specifically marketed to women. But the Orchard Supply Hardware store in Gilroy sent most of its stock back to the manufacturer. Why? Because women don’t want to feel inferior – they want to use the same tools as men, said Judi Taylor, a sales associate at OSH in Gilroy.
“Once a woman feels comfortable using a tool, she’ll get used to it and be more confident using it,” she said. “Then they’ll start finding other things they can use the tools for, other projects they can do.”
The term “power tool” generally means a hand tool that’s run on a motor. Any notions that women don’t know how to use power tools are silly, said Taylor, who learned how to use tools from her father and eventually built her own house.
The handles of power tools aren’t too big for women, the tools aren’t too heavy and they can make life easier for anyone with a home project – male or female, Taylor said.
Basic power tools are designed to do one of three things, said Tony Schneider, a sales associate at Ace Hardware in Hollister. They spin, cut or sand. Prices range from $20 to $200. Deciding which tool to buy depends on what kind of project it will be used for, Schneider said, though most household tasks require something in the mid-price range.
A drill, a tool that spins, can be helpful in putting things together or installing things. Drills can make holes or insert screws, and some drills also cut and can be used to carve things, such as furniture.
Hand saws can cut into a wall, a piece of plywood or other surfaces. Sanders can be used on anything that needs refinishing, from cabinets to tables. Some sanders are designed to get into corners better than others, and some work well on both rounded and flat surfaces.
“Hand sanding is very labor intensive, and turning screws by hand all day is tiring,” Schneider said. “If you get a power tool, the work is easier and it goes faster.”
If customers aren’t familiar with power tools, they can talk to someone who knows tools well and who can help match the project to the correct tool.
Joe Betancourt, another sales associate at the Gilroy OSH, bought his mother a drill and a set of drill bits and taught her how to use them. He said it gave her more independence.
“She loves it,” he said. “She doesn’t need to rely on me to come over with my tools anymore and she’s doing all sorts of things now.”
When the Hollister Ace opened nine years ago, 60 percent of the customers were women working on home projects, Schneider said, and women continue to be a strong client base for the store. Nevertheless, the stereotype that men and their power tools are inseparable generally remains true, he said.
“It’s in our nature. We’re always looking for something bigger and heavier,” he said, smiling broadly. “Men are hunters, and we want a bigger weapon than anyone else.”