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SK Day T-Shirt Design

HJE Hard Hat Stickers

They’re not just for hard hats! You can stick them on anything! The circular saw blade was originally painted by my Aunt Nancy for Harry J. Epstein’s birthday. Classic design. Hope Target doesn’t sue us. Yeah stickers!

SK Day!

Epstein’s is excited to announce that we now are offering every one of SK’s 2,836 products on our website. This move was prompted by a Garagejournal thread that was started to support SK.

In case you don’t want to read through the entire thread, we are going to have an SK Day on September 23rd & the 24th. On those days, there will be an across the board discount on all SK products (5 to 20%) on our website. However, I would encourage people to not just participate in the event to get a discount, but to participate in the discussion as well. This event isn’t just about nationalistic support for a US manufacturer, but a show of support for companies that make and distribute great quality products in a humane, sustainable way.

I realize most companies are content to just tell you about the sale and leave it at that, but I am going to ask a little more of you. If you are thinking about participating in “SK Day”, the question I’d like you to ask yourself is, “What kind of relationships do I have with the businesses in my life?” Are business relationships formed out of mathematical equations that seek to formulate the cheapest possible path or is there a duty we have to each other to form bonds that go beyond these calculations? For me, this question permeates every part of business. It informs the relationships that manufacturers have with their distributors. It informs how retailers interact with their customers, and it informs how companies treat their employees.

We should take a second and ask ourselves if there really is an invisible line we cross over when we enter into the business world that permits us to treat people a certain way. Does the phrase, “It’s not personal. It’s just business,” really describe how we feel, or is this just an expression that we use to explain our actions? If business is not personal, then we go to work everyday in an impersonal world, make impersonal decisions and surround ourselves with impersonal people that we have impersonal relationships with. To accept the fact that we can behave one way in business and another way outside of business, is to accept that outside of business we are people, but inside, we are numbers.

The idea that is often put forward is that businesses that treat people like people will always fail against business that treat them like numbers because treating people like numbers is cheaper and more efficient, and in the end, cheapness is what really motivates people. This is the argument that some corporations put forward. They call this progress, and it is progress, in their conception of how things work. If I were to follow their model, the first thing I would do would be to figure out all of the expenses I could cut. This would mean reducing my employees salaries to minimum wage, reducing their hours so everyone was working part time, canceling their health insurance, and taking as much of their vacation time as I am legal permitted to take. After I did this, I would then be in the position to offer the customer what I think they want, cheapness.

I think this conception of business fails in four important ways. The first is that cheapness does not create sustainable business relationships. It can temporarily bind people together, but as soon as some else offers it cheaper, the relationship is meaningless. Secondly, people aren’t entirely motivated by money. They are also motivated by meaning, specifically, meaningful relationships, and the meaning that people can create between each other is a much more powerful and sustaining force. Third, a lot of us spend our lives in business, and we want those environments to be as pleasant as possible. Pursuing a path that seeks to reduce every part of our environment to the bare essentials creates a terrible work environment and it makes people resent their job and their employers. Lastly, this approach acts as if its effect on the larger system in which it resides is somehow none of its concern. It acts as if it is an isolated individual with isolated concerns, as opposed to being a small part in a much larger whole.

What I have had the opportunity to see at Epstein’s is the importance of meaning in our relationships. It is a rejection of the strategy, “How can we get as many customers as fast as possible?” and an embrace of “How can we form relationships with people that last.” I will spend most of my life “in business”. I don’t want that to be filled with impersonal relationships that amount to figuring out how to make things as cheap as possible. Instead, I want to contribute to the notion that our ideals do not have to stop at this invisible line, that there is no real separation between the two, and that business is in fact extremely personal. This approach can only work if there is enough people out there that recognize and support companies that try to show these values in their words and in their actions.

It is these questions that I hope people think about when they participate in this event, and these discussions that I think are important for us to have as individuals and as a country.

SK Warehouse Tour

Some sneak preview pics of my visit to the SK warehouse! More to come (including a video) when I get back in town!

NOS SK Black Oxide Combo Wrenches

sk black oxide combination wrenches metric

Just added a number of these NOS metric SK black oxide combination wrenches. We’ve had these awhile, and are just finally getting them online. Comes in a variety of sizes: 6MM, 7MM, 8MM, 9MM, 12MM, 13MM, 14MM, 15MM, 16MM & 19MM.

Milton Driveway Signal Bell

milton driveway signal bell

Ding! I am just barely old enough to remember when gas stations used to be full service. By the time I was a teenager most of the local service stations had already been replaced by what we have today, talking computer gas pumps that try to sell us stuff. Given my limited experience with what things were like “back then”, I still find myself nostalgic for a time I barely knew, and for the sound of a service bell. That is why I decided to start carrying these Milton Driveway Signal Bells. While it will most likely never ring in a gas station again, it can still be put to good use.

Perhaps, on entering your store, instead of a common desk bell with a note to the side that says, “Ring for service,” you could have a signal bell with its black rubber hose on the floor with a sign that says, “Jump up and down for service.” Or maybe you have trouble keeping track of when your teenagers are coming home at night. Or maybe you just want to really annoy your neighbors. Your imagination is the limit.

SASI Military Kitchen Knife

SASI US Military Kitchen Knife

Note: SOLD OUT!

This SASI knife is not to be confused with a SASSY knife, which would feature a pink furry handle and a zebra stripped blade. The SASI knife was purchased from a US government auction. I know almost nothing about it besides it’s impressive length: 17 1/4″ overall.

Millers Falls Wood Chisel Set

Millers Falls Wood Chisel Set

We’ve got enough NOS Millers Falls stuff, that I decided to create a new section in our closeouts which I appropriately titled, “Millers Falls”. This 5 pc chisel set is just one of the wonders we have left from this old timey US tool company. The accompanying canvas tool pouch is made by our friend Callie, right across the river in Kansas City, Kansas.

USA Self-Feed Wood Boring Bits

black and decker self-feed wood boring bits

Just in! Closeout on US made Black & Decker Self-Feeding Wood Boring Bits. Designed especially for plumbers, electricians and other tradesmen who need to bore holes in wood for pipe or conduit. Each bit has heavy duty 1/2″ shank with three milled flats for secure chuck grip in portable electric drills or stationary boring machines. Replaceable double-end screw point. Comes in sizes: 1 1/8″, 1 1/4″, 1 3/8″, 2″.

Custom Stamped Brass Tags

custom stamped brass tag nameplate

Our custom stamped brass tag business is taking off so we’ve added a number of new shapes and sizes. Each tag is 18 gauge solid brass (US made by C.H. Hanson). Whatever phrase or words you can imagine, we can stamp with our trusty 1950′s Graphotype machine. This first new addition is a 5/8″ x 1 29/32″ nameplate. It also comes without the custom stamping as well. Make your own trophies. Label everything in your apartment so your roommates stop taking your stuff. The possibilities are endless.

hexagon custom stamped brass tag

We’ve also added a Hexagon tag. It comes custom stamped as well as plain.

custom stamped 18 gauge solid brass octagon tag

These tags don’t have to say, “I am a robot. Teach me how to love,” but they can if you want them to. This octagon comes custom stamped as well as plain.

custom stampe brass tags

Of course, we also have the classic roundies in both 1″ and 1 1/4″, or you can just check out our whole line of brass tags and custom stamping here.