August 14, 2022

Harbor Freight Tools

Retail chain carrying a wide range of tools, hardware & other products for the home, garden & car.

Service options

  • Curbside pickup
  • In-store pickup
  • In-store shopping
  • Delivery

Health & safety

  • Staff required to disinfect surfaces between visits
  • Safety dividers at checkout

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible elevator
  • Wheelchair accessible entrance
  • Wheelchair accessible parking lot

Offerings

  • Service guarantee

 

 

Harbor Freight Tools

Harbor Freight Tools, commonly referred to as Harbor Freight, is a privately held tool and equipment retailer, headquartered in Calabasas, California, which operates a chain of retail stores, as well as a mail-order and e-commerce business. The company employs over 20,000 people in the United States and has over 1,200 locations in 48 states.

History

In 1977, Eric Smidt and his father, Allan Smidt, started Harbor Freight and Salvage in a small building in North Hollywood, California. The company began as a mail-order tool business that dealt with liquidated and returned merchandise. As the business grew, its name was changed to Harbor Freight Tools. In 1985, Eric Smidt was named president of the company at age 25; he served under that title until 1999, when he became chief executive officer. From the mid-1980s to 2010 Harbor Freight was headquartered in nearby Camarillo, California.

Mail order

The company subsequently acquired US General Supply Company in 1991. Based in Plainview, New York, US General Supply Company was another mail-order tool and equipment seller, which at one time had 40 retail stores before they were closed following bankruptcy. Vestiges of the old US General can be seen with the branding of the toolboxes that Harbor Freight Tools sells. At first, the company mailed promotions in standard #10 business envelopes. In the early 1980s, when company relocated to Camarillo, it acquired the former headquarters of Unity, another large mail-order company, and launched its first mail-order catalog in the mid-1980s.

Retail stores

First Harbor Freight Tools retail store, located in Lexington, Kentucky
In 1980, Harbor Freight Tools opened its first retail store in Lexington, Kentucky, to sell returned merchandise from its mail order business. The original location was at 1387 East New Circle Road. It later moved to 1301 Winchester Road, Suite 213. The venture proved successful, and Harbor Freight Tools began to open stores across the United States. Harbor Freight Tools operates over 1,200 retail stores in 48 states.