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Do men love tools the way women love shoes?


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good read...


Some men are addicted to buying tools

Rob Koci likes tools the way some women like shoes.

"It's a great analogy," says Koci. "Men like tools for a different reason, but they have the same passion for tools."

Last month Koci bought a tape measure, even though he already has ten. But one is too bulky and another has a crack in it, he told his wife when she pulled open a drawer in their kitchen, full of tape measures.

"It was a Milwaukee tape measure. I could imagine the engineering, I could see what the guys were thinking when they made this tool," said Koci, a former contractor and publisher of Canadian Contractor Magazine.

"You know kids, when they wear their skates to bed? I would take that tape measure and it was so beautiful, it was so well-engineered, I put it on my belt. I didn't have any work to do. I was just hanging around the house.

"We're talking about people who love tools. We're talking addiction."

The idea of women being addicted to shoes is embedded in popular culture — Carrie Bradshaw, the oddly affluent writer on the television show Sex and the City, complained in one memorable episode that she had spent $40,000 on shoes, but didn't have a place to live.

Women are mocked and mock themselves for being unable to stop at five pairs or even fifty pairs. The relationship has been the subject of scholarly articles and shoes the subject of museum exhibits.

The male addiction to tools meanwhile has been flying under the radar, even though it can be as intense — and the need for the tool as tenuous — as the necessity of buying a pair of six-inch heels with feathers for $500. Perfect with the right outfit, but is it worth a mortgage payment?

The last two years have been slow for women's footwear in Canada, according to data from The NPD Group. Sales of women's footwear flatlined in the 12 months ending in October, posting a zero per cent increase. That followed a decline of one per cent from 2012-2013. Boot sales are keeping the category afloat, with sales increases of 10 per cent and five per cent during the same periods.

Sales figures for tools are harder to come by, but industry sources say there is no shortage of men bulking up on tools for their garages, their basements and their businesses.

Jeff Loosemore, marketing manager for Canada for the German tool-maker STIHL, says his market has been growing for 20 years running.

The housing market has been driving demand for everything power hand tools to lawnmowers and leaf blowers. Last year's ice storm drove chainsaw sales because so many trees were damaged.

But the relationship between men and their tools is more than utilitarian. They take pride in their toolboxes the way some women take pride in their rows of pumps, sandals and flats lined up on closet shelves.

"People swear by the brands. In that way, they're a lot like shoes. From the corporate side, we're always trying to win over consumers who are loyal to other brands," said Loosemore.

Alex Carrick, chief economist for CMD (Construction Market Data) Group, said tool sales are wrapped up in construction data, a broad category that also includes building materials. But he knows firsthand about the hold tools have over men. Until recently, he too was an enthusiast.

"With the cost of repairs these days, it's easy to justify. A plumber is going to charge you $150-$200, so it makes all the sense in the world to go out and spend $2,000 and buy the tools to do it yourself, right?"

Koci thinks the passion men have for their tools flies under the radar because many men enter the construction industry because they love tools. Even after they retire, the interest stays with them.

Recently, Koci bought a grinder – a contractor-grade tool – even though he is no longer working as a contractor.

"I'll use the grinder twice a year, but it's there, I can see it in my mind's eye and I know it's there. And one of these days, my wife is going to say, Rob, can you do x, and I'm going to say, 'Hell yeah I can, because I have a grinder!'"

For Koci, nothing but the best will do.

"Think about women who love boots. Do you know what would happen if I bought my wife a cheap pair of boots? That would not go over well."

It's a man thing, said Neno Krnjajic, co-owner of Clintar Landscape Management in Scarborough.

"We need tools, you have no idea how much tools we need. Whatever comes out, we need it. Same as my wife's shoes – half the walk-in closet is shoes. Can you wear them all at once? No. That is how we need tools, exactly the same way. For each occasion, you need tools.

"Plus you have exercise; you don't have to go to the gym."

Jason Smirnis is a construction-worker-turned architect, with an island property, a house to work on, and an appreciation of the right tool for the right task. He recently bought a log roller, so he can move big trees on his island property by himself. He sees it as a rational expense. He can either pay someone to help him, or buy a better tool and do it himself.

He has ordered tools from Europe. He spent $500 on a set of Japanese hole saws to cut into stainless steel.

Colleagues in the office tease him about his interest in tools, but his wife approves. His children have hand-made wooden toboggans. The office they work in – a former bank – is filled with beautifully finished woodworked details. Smirnis converted one of the vaults into a bathroom with a sink.

"It started from a teenager working for contractors…you'd buy a (cheap) set and use it and it would fall apart. You have access to more money as you get older and get tired of throwing things away. I always buy the best that I can, so I can have it for a lifetime," said Smirnis.

"You get to a point when you have them all, you don't have to go out and buy it. I think I'm at that point now. I feel like I'm there."



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We probably do its a similar rush endorphins. The only thing is a tool has a use beyond footwear or a handbag. I'm sorry heels might look great on your lady, but I can fix or make money with tools.

well technically so can some women with heels......

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