When it comes to Northern Tools vs Harbor Freight, the only real comparison we need to be concerned about would be those having to do with issues of quality, selection, pricing, and level of customer service you get. After all, if you are going to be spending a lot of money of tools you want to be sure you get questions answered assuming you have them. You also want to be sure that you are getting the best. I checked into a forum that discusses such topics to see what people were saying about the two companies.
There were a lot of people who spoke have ordered from both companies and because of this they are able to compare quite easily. A lot of people said that when it came to quality they felt that Northern was slightly better than Harbor Freight. It does not stop here. People wanted selection and a lot of people said that Northern had a bigger catalog of items that its competition. Now you can take this at face value, but it is better for you to see about this for yourself. Bigger does not always mean better, especially if the selection is for tools and equipment you just do not need.
A lot of people I read user experiences on said that Northern Tool has imports that are the same quality as Harbor Freight, but they do not offer nothing but imports. People who want American made tools will have access to them. American made tools are sold next to the ones that have been imported. Just expect to pay a little bit more in this case.
Then again there were some users who believed that the imported stuff Northern Tools offers is a bit above Harbor Freight in terms of quality. People seem to be put off by the fact that HF does not seem to sell American made brands. Even though Northern Tools seems to offer really low prices, they definitely are not the lowest, this is what users said. So if you are looking for the lowest price on tools, it might be a good idea for you to use another option or use HF.
People who have used both website alike have spoken of their frustration at not being able to find a lot of coupons for Northern. While a lot of people said they had an easier time finding coupons for HF. So this might encourage people to want to shop at HF instead.
The overall theme I got from users was that they seemed to be more than willing to make use of both stores. Each one has its strengths and each one has its weaknesses. For instance, a lot of people felt that each store seemed to offer things that the other one did not. Another example is Northern Tools seems to provide pretty strong warranties on their own brand tools while HF does not.
Compare each provider for yourself and see which one you could envision yourself doing long term business with.