I mention in my background that Paul Hawkin of Smith and Hawkin (S&H) fame was an inspiration for my starting The Eclectic Gardener (TEG). I recently visited the newly opened Smith and Hawkin store in Roseville, California about six miles from Orangevale. Now I haven't been to one of the stores in years and I know they are owned by a huge conglomerate. The "folksy" cottage like feel is a whole bunch of marketing savvy but it does make me envious. :)
One of the sales clerks mentioned that she just loved the store and had a hard time convincing her husband that she didn't spend in the store more than she was paid. A truly happy employee!
Anyway, I always have to compare TEG products and prices when I am in a store selling similar products. So the first thing I notice are the forged digging tools. Different to say the least. They were S&H branded (made in England) and like nothing I've ever seen. Carbon steel w/ hardwood handles for about $49.00. Now I sell the Spear and Jackson Stainless Steel tools (made in England) for $46.95 (border size) and $49.95 (Digging size). They didn't have any stainless steel versions but if they did I am certain they would have been priced at about $100+.
I also looked at the hand tools and found many unique items. The closest I could find to the Nejiri Gama Hoe was nothing like my original one (from S&H) or the one that TEG sells which is made in Japan. The S&H one was priced at $19. The Eclectic Gardener's is $9.75 and much better balanced.
So the point is? Smith and Hawkin is a great store. I saw many, many items I'd like to buy. Some of them were even reasonably priced and good values. As stated earlier, I'm envious. The big deal is that in times of frugality and personal fiscal responsibility people need to research, shop, and spend their dollars wisely.
The Eclectic Gardener