There are things you need (batteries).

Things you didn’t realize you needed (electronic fly swatter).

And there are things no one really needs but are such a great impulse buy that your favorite store is compelled to display them right next to the cash register. Like gum. Or candy bars.

Or, at the new Harbor Freight Tools in Auburn, an 18-inch serrated machete.

With nylon case! For under $6! Buy two! And gum!

We’re still trying to figure that one out. 

But the rest of HFT? No figuring necessary. Cool tools. Many, many department aisles. Cheap prices. “Super coupons” and friendly associates happy to remind you to use said coupons when you forget.

Really, perfection in a store.

And it helps that HFT isn’t limited to cement mixers and oil-less pancake air compressors. (Mmm. Pancakes.) They also have power strips, cheap batteries and pink gardening gloves. You know, for us mere mortals.

Mere mortals whose machete needs are usually handled with scissors.

* Four-foot metal power strip, 12 outlets, $20.99

For your Wii, your hair dryer, your computer, your cellphone charger, your … everything. You can plug in everything in your house, plus a few things for the cute guy next door. Because you’re neighborly that way. 

* Aluminum tool case, $23.99

Fancy-pants and alluring, like James Bond would use for tools, just tools.

* 16 oz. can crusher with wall mount, $5.49

Um. An idea for that Yankee swap in 11 months.

* U.S. General biker-style pneumatic roller seat, $99.99

With chrome, black pleather and a tasteful spurt of rhinestones — this seat is badass.

* Shoehorn, $5.49

We’ll try that again: SHOEHORN. That’s more fitting. It’s stainless steel, more than a foot long and two inches wide, sturdy enough to fight off a rabid beaver. In a mini section with bathtub Super Grips, over-sized remotes and wheelchairs.

* Solar lawn lights, $9.99-$14.29

Choose either a three-pack of pretty lanterns with mosaic bases or a glowing hummingbird/dragonfly/butterfly combo package. Easy setup. Not so easy to explain why your hummingbirds are Chernobyly.

* Central Machinery cement mixer, $189.99

And we have a Bliss first! Never, in all our years of shopping, have we run across a cement mixer. But now we’re pretty sure we need one. For cementing things. Like our handprints in the walk of the Sun Journal.

* Ladies gardening gloves, three-pack, $3.99

Pink, purple and blue gloves with rubber dots on the palms for a no-slip gardener’s grip. Because spring is coming. At some point. We’re pretty sure.

* Electronic fly swatter, $3.99

Looks like a child’s yellow tennis racket, but oh, that is only to deceive the bugs. Aim, swat, zap. Very similar to The Original Bug Zapper we once found at Ocean State Job Lot in Oxford. But for $1.01 less. And you don’t need to travel back to 2009 to get it.

* Chicago electric welding helmet, $69.99

Solar-powered, auto-darkening, metal-head-design welding helmet with variable shade control. We are almost positive this is the helmet Iron Man wears and it will give you super powers. If not, it’s at least Halloween-worthy. We were completely in the dark about the need for solar-powering; maybe that cute neighbor can enlighten.

Best find: Batteries!

Packs of 24 AA and AAA or a four-pack of 9V for $3.99, and 6V for $2.19. With remotes, toys and the semi-annual panic that she hasn’t changed the smoke detectors recently enough, the Bag House chews through batteries. These are a wicked bargain.

Think twice: 18-inch serrated machete with nylon case, $5.29

Menacing shouldn’t be so cheap, nor should it be by the counter as a convenience grab and go. Though, plus side, if you’re going to the jungle to search for lost treasure, this is your tool.

Bonus: The clerk spotted the weekend flier in our hands and asked if we wanted the free offer (Uh, does a Kardashian want her picture taken?) and she happily dropped a seven-function digital multimeter in our bag. It’s for checking live wires. Or something. But it was free! With the flier coupon! Retail value $9.99. No purchase necessary. A great first impression.

Bag Lady and Shopping Siren’s true identities are protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (whose paw prints have already been immortalized in the neighbor’s front lawn — bad dogs!) and the Customer Service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].


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