Local News

Harbor Freight coming to Sebring

— Harbor Freight will demolish the luxurious interior of recently closed The Galleria furniture store building at the southwest entrance of Lakeshore Mall and refurbish it with its own exposed T-bar ceilings and concrete floors, according to plans filed Monday at the Highlands County building department.

According to the Calif. tool seller’s website, Sebring will become the 41st Florida warehouse superstore. Company officials were unavailable, so the opening date was not know at press time.

“Home Depot is limited, Lowe’s is limited,” James Umbel, of Sebring, said. “Harbor Freight has everything you could think of under one roof.

“I’m an old school from the 70s,” Umbel said. “They’ve got air compressors, hand tools — if you want inexpensive tools, they’ve got that, but if you want high end, they have that too.”

A friend took Umbel to a Harbor Freight store in North Carolina. “I was there for an hour and a half.”

When Highlands Today broke the news Tuesday afternoon on Facebook, three dozen people quickly “liked” or commented on the post.

“Shawn said if anyone is looking for his paycheck, we know where it will be,” wrote Kelli Lee Delaney.

“I’ll be standing in the line next to him with my check in hand,” Jay Peralta posted.

“Thank Goodness!” Victoria Beals-Medley exclaimed.

“Most of it is a bunch of cheap China crap you will need to buy over and over again,” Nick Fisher dissented.

“Not entirely,” Caz Zie replied. “Some of my Chicago tools have far out lasted my DeWalt, Makita and Ryobi, at one-third of the price. Low price does not always mean cheap.”

Founded in 1977, Harbor Freight Tools is the leading discount tool retailer in the U.S. selling great quality tools at what it calls “ridiculously low prices.” A privately held discount tool and equipment retailer headquartered in Calabasas, Calif., HFT operates a chain of retail stores as well as a mail-order and e-commerce business.

In 1980, HFT opened a successful retail store in Lexington, Ky., to sell returned merchandise from its mail-order business. The venture proved successful, and HFT began to open stores across the United States.

A year ago, HFT said it had 450 stores in 46 states. This year, HFT claims more than 500 stores nationwide on its website www.harborfreight.com.

HFT stocks over 7,000 automotive, air and power tools, shop equipment and hand tools. All hand tools have a lifetime guarantee. Brands include US General tool storage, Central Pneumatic air-driven/pneumatic tools/accessories, Pittsburgh automotive and hand tools, and Chicago Electric power tools.

Heartland Real Estate Corp. broker Jimmy Wohl worked with Harbor Freight long before The Galleria’s clearance sale last year.

The building was listed for $995,000, but the sale still hasn’t closed, Wohl said. “They wanted to lease there, we wanted it sold. They came back and said, ‘We have an investor who will buy it and remodel it and lease it to us.”