For a SET, get Craftsman. Best product with the best and easiest warranty. Easy replacement policy. Try to get the 6-point if you can.
As you build some budget back, I'd suggest buying extra sockets for the key sizes, and getting some deep well sockets as well.
When you have EXTRA money, nothing beats the SnapOn. That said, I have ZERO SnapOn tools, and have been working on my bikes for quite some time without any problems whatsoever. If I were a pro, I'd be all SnapOn.
Get a couple of screwdriver sets.
Get a couple of hex key sets
Get 3/8" drive hex to put on your ratchets
Converters - 3/8 to 1/4, 1/2 to 3/8
Get a decent torque wrench
At least a Break bar (maybe a cheater for the break bar)
Dead blow hammer
Wire Tie pliers
That would be a good start and will get you through almost everything you might need.
I probably forgot something major, but I am sure the CLSB guys will fill in my oversights.
This very neatly lists out the contents of the toolbox that I had stolen, so I can vouch for it being an excellent working list of what tools to get. I also had a couple of feeler sets (duplicates) and a really ratty plug gauge, plus the plug socket and prop rod from the TL's tool kit and the cheapie Motion-Pro front axle hex drive. That seems to round out the tools for most of the routine work.
But I have to say that I've bought Sears socket sets before (once, as a present to my sister), and I'm not thrilled with the idea of getting all those 1/4" sockets that are virtually useless and, worse, tend to duplicate what they give you in 3/8" drive. I'd probably wind up building the set myself off the rack, if I can get it cheaper.
If you don't mind going piecemeal, I've found it's best to invest in high end ratchets, then get craftsman or whatever is in your budget for sockets, screwdrivers, etc. I'm tired of returning Craftsman or other ratchets because they don't hold their drive direction. So a Snap-On or MAC ratchet with whatever sockets sure beats busted knuckles.
I was thinking along these lines myself: a good durable ratchet, but then get all the sockets and stuff at Sears or someplace. I guess the other way around to the same place would be to get a Craftsman set in order to get back in business fast, and then save up for a Snap-On ratchet. Then I could have the field ratchet in the box, and the good one in the cabinet at home.
If I do decide to get something top-end like Snap-On, are those sold at retail locally? I know I can mail order them, and might even be able to con their sales rep into visiting my office (once), but beyond that I have no idea how to get anything better than Sears stuff and especially not with any speed.