Appliance shopping in the age of Amazon

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Locally owned Home Appliance Sales and Service is growing like crazy. Here’s how they prove daily that people prefer a local appliance retailer with knowledgeable salespeople, expert installation and a commitment to quick, honest service over the national chains and, yes, even the internet. (Photography by Benjamin Margalit/Margalit Studio)

By Bill Yurgen

If you’ve been appliance shopping in the last few years, you’ll understand this: Most consumer products have become so technical and so complicated to operate that the way we make our purchases has been in a state of flux. Not long ago many box appliance stores were losing a steady flow of sales to the internet as a new form of customer began to emerge.

How Not  to Buy an Appliance
These customers would visit a brick-and-mortar store that had been around for a while and seek out an item they had been researching on the internet.

After touching and examining the product—“kicking the tires,” if you will—they would go back home where they would scour the internet in order to get the lowest price possible. (Of course, with products like appliances and consumer electronics price differences are negligible because the margins are so narrow.)

Then they would place their online order while sipping their lattes in their pajamas, confident that nothing could possibly go wrong.

Ah, the brave new world of the internet.

But, alas, as those of us with a little more life experience know, there is something called Murphy’s Law. Things can go wrong, and returns can be a nightmare, especially when commercial freight is involved. Plus, the internet’s massive selection of appliances include items with the same part number but a different stock number because they are actually unsold models from last year or the year before. 

While many online retailers provide placement and installation, they give you no idea how well vetted their third-party service providers are. It’s all too easy for inexperienced installers to damage an appliance while moving it. 

And if you have a warranty or service issue, you’d better be prepared for long hold times as you hear, “Due to high caller volume today, your approximate wait time is one hour and seven minutes. We recommend you call us at a later date and time or email us at...”

Frustrated yet?

The national big box stores aren’t much better. True, they at least have the product on display, but the expert salesperson helping you make an expensive decision may well have worked in the Lawn and Garden Department yesterday, Major Appliances today, and the Paint Department tomorrow. And their delivery people and installers are also third-party contractors. Sure, you may get lucky but then again…

Either way, if you need service or have a warranty problem in this area, they are likely going to refer you to—drum roll, please—Home Appliance Sales and Service.

In business since 1962, Home Appliance Sales and Service began with one employee as an appliance repair and parts supplier. Not long after, a second employee joined the team who still manages their Lodi store today. Employees tend to stay with the company for the duration—and so do their customers.

Growing & Growing   
Home Appliance’s strong reputation in the industry—coupled with the consumer backlash against the poor service of internet appliance retailers—has led to tremendous growth for the company. According to Beth Grayson, president of Home Appliance, their staff has grown by one-third just this year.

“We have developed a culture where we promote from within,” she says.

“Shaun Vahl, for example, was hired as a delivery driver and it didn’t take long for us to recognize that Shaun’s friendly approach to people and quick understanding of technical issues made him an ideal candidate to be trained as a service technician. That was 18 years ago, and today Shaun manages our service department where we continue to operate our own tech apprentice training program.”

“When we built our current showroom on Pearl Road in Brunswick we thought we had planned ahead for more than adequate space for growth. Much to our pleasant surprise, we are looking to expand our space to increase our showroom and warehouse facility.” 

Coming to Cleveland’s West Side
Beth also shared with us that Home Appliance is actively searching for a location to open a third store in the upper Westside suburbs of Cleveland.

“We have so many customers from Westlake, Avon and Rocky River—many of whom seek us out for luxury brands like Thermadore, Bosch Benchmark, Wolf and Sub Zero. It’s a natural growth progression for us to open a third location in order to be able to better serve our customers in that area.”

Making a Complex Purchase Easier
Dan Edwards, sales manager of Home Appliance, elaborated on the company’s culture. 

“We have a sales staff with a combined experience of over 90 years in the appliance business,” he said. 

“Modern appliances—thanks to computers and aggressive competition—have become technologically complicated. People love that they can come to us, get the same or a better price than they would elsewhere, and we explain everything they need to know about these complex devices. Their questions get answered without YouTube videos or a comments section. Our culture demands that our employees give each customer the best experience possible. So if you come in looking for a range, after a brief conversation we can determine if you are looking at too much technology for your particular needs while making sure you understand how to operate our products.” 

Far Beyond Mere Sales
“As opposed to just making a purchase and hoping for the best, our customers know that not only do we inform them, we do our own deliveries, we install and we service,” Dan added. 

“It’s an overworked term, but our customers really do become a part of our family. If they have a gas appliance and want to switch to electric, we do that. In house. Nobody in Northeast Ohio can make that claim.”

Home Appliance Sales and Service is located at 1997 Pearl Road in Brunswick. You may phone them at 330-225-5807. Hours are 9 -8 Monday and Thursday; 9 -6 Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; Sundays 11-4.
Their Lodi store is located at 110 Highland Drive. Phone 330-948-4663. Hours are 9-7 Monday; 9-5 Tuesday through Friday; Saturday 9-3; Closed Sundays. Visit them online at