With the country in an economic tailspin, it's a good time to remember that America was built on resolve, on ingenuity, on hand-me-that-wrench fortitude. So when you're filling out your holiday lists give some thought to the tools of the recovery trade.
Whether it's a handyman or handywoman who seemingly has everything, a new homeowner or a 20-something with her first four walls, here are some gritty gift ideas, courtesy of several local experts.
Consider it hardware for hard times.
Item: Ace 114-piece Drill and Driver Accessory Set
"This has a little bit of everything," said Alberto Nieves, who knows all the good deals at the Ace Hardware store on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N in St. Petersburg. "It's got all the drill bits, screwdriver heads, wood-boring bits, masonry bits and nut drivers."
Bonus: If you already have a reliable electric or cordless drill, you'll never need another attachment.
Price: On sale for $19.99
Ideal for: The new homeowner who is only beginning to understand the term "fixer upper."
Item: TopMost 10-piece Household Tool Kit
You got your hammer, adjustable wrench, pliers, tape measure and an assortment of screwdrivers plus some other everyday doodads. This tool kit is to home repair what the pacifier is to a small child. It'll stop the crying long enough for you to figure out what to do next.
Bonus: Everything comes in a nifty zippered pouch.
Ideal for: "Somebody moving into a new place," said Mike Pisarski, manager of Bay to Bay Hardware in Tampa. "It's very convenient for someone just starting out."
Item: Nebo Super CSI LED Flashlight
This is not your dad's Mag-Lite. The six ultra bright green LEDs help you keep your night vision. The 10 bright white LEDs work in regular and flash modes. It has a compass, is water resistant and shockproof, and runs on a handful of AAA batteries. Oh, and the laser pointer can nail someone at 400 yards.
Bonus: With a pair of them, you can probably land 737s.
Ideal for: Gadget boy (or girl) who craves nocturnal adventure.
Item: Great Neck 35-piece Dormitory Tool Set
This all-in-one package has everything you need to launch into projects small and large. The rechargeable cordless driver operates a variety of bits, fasteners and socket heads. It includes basics like a hammer and measuring tape, putty knife and electrical tape, adjustable wrench and needle-nose pliers. If you can't fix a problem with this baby, it might be time to call a pro.
"You could spend a lot of money putting this set together," Ace's Alberto Nieves said about building your own starter toolbox.
Bonus: "It's not pink," Nieves said. Turns out many starter sets like this one are flamingo colored to appeal to women.
Ideal for: The novice who wants to hang Lil Wayne posters, or needs to rip out a toilet and replace a seal.
Item: Floating Pool Chlorinator
For pool supplies with school spirit look no further than these nifty models bearing the colors and logos of your favorite state institution. They come in Florida State, University of Florida and University of Miami models.
Bonus: School colors float comfortably above the water line while 3-inch chlorine tablets do their work below the surface.
Ideal for: The family that has the school flag hanging out front, the school mugs, the school license plates, the school key chains . . . and generally has found it tough to move on since graduation day.
Item: Black & Decker Mouse Sander
Okay, you don't actually sand mice with this tool. But it's a detail sander that gets into places usually only a mouse could reach. It has a three-position LED indicator that tells you the optimal sanding pressure you need for any job.
"Plus, it comes to a point so you can get into little places you're sanding," said Mark Johnson of Tierra Verde Do It Best Hardware.
Bonus: Chicks dig smooth things.
Price: About $40
Ideal for: The perfectionist. You know who you are.
Item: Dremel Stylus Cordless with Lithium Ion Battery
The Dremel has been out for a few years now, but this model dwarfs the others. The tool fits in your hand as a pen would, providing for more control and detail work. This multipurpose hand tool covers sanding, polishing, cleaning and engraving jobs with extraordinary ease.
"It's like you're actually writing," Nieves said. "Most people would use it for engraving wood and metal. There's a lot of precision work you can do with this one."
Bonus: Comes with a 25-piece accessory kit.
Ideal for: The expert handyman who is proud enough of his work to sign his name. In cursive.
Item: Hitachi 5.8 A D-Handle Jigsaw
This saw, for making precision corner cuts, has its own LED headlight, four-stage orbital action, tool-less blade changing and a super soft vibration-reducing grip.
Bonus: You can't find a more fierce-looking addition to your tool box.
Ideal for: For the handyman/woman whose spouse won't let them buy a high-powered motorcycle.
Item: The Rat Zapper
"If someone lives in South Tampa, or anywhere where there are lots of fruit trees, I've got to recommend the Rat Zapper," said Mike Pisarski of Bay to Bay Hardware. "It's like 'Old Sparky' for the rodent population."
Bonus: Once the rodent has met its demise you don't have to touch it while discarding the remains. You just tip them into a suitable receptacle. Then reload.
Ideal for: The person who has everything and is tired of sharing with the neighborhood varmints.