Specialty Retailer: Northern Tool & Equipment


“Dirty fingernails don’t make a man, missing fingernails make a man.” That’s the copy from a Northern Tool & Equipment ad campaign, and it sums up the Burnsville, Minn.-based retailer’s focus on its core audience of men who appreciate hard work and great tools.

The company earned recognition as Specialty Retailer of the Year for its relentless focus and leadership in its niche. Additionally, the 61-store company showed a willingness to experiment and expand into new categories such as Garage Gear and Storm Central. The retailer has locations in 11 states, and its footprint extends every where through its e-commerce site and catalog operation. About 60 percent of the company’s sales flow through its 400-page catalog, which hits rural areas where consumers might not have immediate access to large or specialty home improvement items. Founded in 1980, Northern Tool hopes to reach the 100-store mark during the next three years.


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