Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Renovate Cheaply

You do not have to spend a fortune to renovate well. Have a look at some decent alternative to spending a ton of dough.

The Bosch 4 series dishwasher: At $534 after rebate, it is a great value.

Fisher Paykel refrigeration: Shallow depth, 33 inchs and $500-1000 less than other shallow depth products.

From the world of Pro:

Bertazoni: Italian design at an affordable number.

NXR: The first Chinese Pro range with 18,000 BTU output.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Dishwashers and Blanco Sinks

Congratulations, you bought a quiet dishwasher. So quiet in fact, it is noiseless.

So when does it shut off?

Electrolux and Bosch has solved this eternal riddle with a LED light when the cycle ends.


As of last week, we are selling the Blanco line of sinks. Blancos specialty is larger single sinks, and onsumers seem to be purchasing these sinks instead of doubles. Bigger pots are perhaps the reason, but larger singles seem to be a better utilization of space (in my opinion). Either way, you can now choose Blanco or Franke.



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wait Until October

Frigidaire is introducing a price increase effective October 15 of about 4-6%. It is totally understandable given the economics. I still think commodity appliances are way undervalued compared to other durables. The $399 washer sold in 1986 is $369 today.

If Frigidaire is announcing an increase, then it is hard to explain the rationale of 15-30% rebates on their best selling ranges, washer and dishwasher in October.

Have a look:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ivory Towers and Remodeling

Its hard to know who actually instigates the sundry remodeling projects, which seem to run simultaneously at any given time.

Store remodeling to me is important, but crucial in our somewhat sluggish economy. Not that the gilded age is temporarily on hold, we have to show people how to affordably improve their homes, and the store display must reflect this.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kurt At Your House


We have launched a new program at the ole Yale. We are now sending our store chef to a clients home on any order $15,000 or more charged with our store card. Kurt will now show you how to cook on your new appliances.

You are probably asking how we can afford to send a chef. Kurt is truly being paid by the cost savings of using the store card versus a credit card. For clients spending less than $15,000, cooking lessons by appointment in the store are free with purchase.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yale 2008 Vs 2006

In many ways, Yale is a microcosm of the broader markets. We are very lucky to have a better year than in 2006 (so far). It is, however, a way different mix of products, which reflects the market uncertainty.

In 2006, we sold SubZero, Wolf and Miele to a much higher degree than today. In a way, their decline in sales is a shame. Both companys enjoy compelling products and are truly unique in many aspects. They are victims of the current economic reality. Without equity and declining home values, people are not spending at the same rate. Like other iconic brands, they will be back and will continue to sell to the super premium segment.

Three brands have benefitted from the market weakness. First, people need appliances and will always remodel even in a down market. Two brands, Bosch and Frigidaire, do not surprise me, but the revamped GE line, especially GE Cafe does. The common thread between all three brands is style at a more affordable price....As they coined in the book, Trading Up, the new phrase is called affordable luxury.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Islands And Other Lighting Myths

A chandelier should be 12 inches in diameter less than the table. It should also be 24 inches off the surface for the right proportion.

Now forget the measurement as it has nothing to do with illumination. Task, accent, ambient as well as decorative lighting must be utilized in order to properly light a room. Decorative lighting is like art, and can really be any proportion.

Same is true for islands...Have a look.

The decorative pendants can be really anything, because the other design elements are actually lighting the spaces.

File this under: Do what you want and have fun with it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Venting Myths

When I was an appliance/lighting trainee, measuring a bath for ventilation was easy. Take the square feet of the bath and multiply it by 1.07 for the corresponding CFM equivalent. Supposedly this was an industry formula.

But, the formula doesn't work. First, bathrooms now have steams, specialty showers and multiple toilets. All of which creates more need for ventilation.

Also, the difference between a high and low CFM fan in price is minimal.

Have a look at a Panasonic bath fan.


There are plenty of decent fans, but Panasonic has the lowest sone or sound rating.

Green Tip: Buy a timer or moisture sensing switch, so the unit shuts off automatically.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Newest, Latest and Greatest

Yesterday was the regional show where the manufacturers showed their latest products.


Electrolux now has a 4.7 cubic foot front load washer(that's over twice bigger than a top load.)

GE Profile single, double oven: Its two ovens within a single oven foot print.

GE Profile computerized french door: This is an unbelievable refrigerator, down to the calorie counts of the food items.

Frigidaire all refrigerator/freezer: Flick a switch for one or the other....Great idea.

Bosch 5 burner 30 inch cooktop: 5 is better than 4.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Blade

We just installed the new Dyson Blade in the ladies room. This device uses hurricane force wind to clean 99.9% of bacteria off our customers hands...Now is bacteria free consumers our goal?


Not really, but it will save us a fortune in paper. We actually sell Dyson vacs and these blades. The air must be a little thin in the ole tower.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dryer Fires

There is an article in the Globe today about a fatality due to a clothes dryer. I have blogged about this unknown problem before, but there have been 60 such fires in Massachusetts alone this year.

Here is how to prevent this problem:

1. Clean the lint from your dryer after every load.

2. Clean the lint out of your vent every month or so

3. Change the duct from plastic to metal if you have the chance(its more important to remove the lint)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Delivery is the second hardest part of this industry, and probably one of the primary causes of consumer angst. Lets say you order a kitchen and schedule a delivery a few weeks later..The process is:

1. Receptionist
2. sales
3. purchasing
4. warehousing
5. trucking

Any errors will cause a breakdown, and problems will occur. Lets say every aspect is running smoothly, now the second phase of fun begins. You paid a delivery charge, but any of the following can/will occur:

1. Removal charge($20-30 per piece)
2. Cord charge(amazingly 30 per appliance)
3. Installation charge

Protect yourself by checking everything at time of order. You want as much transparency as possible with all the terms noted on the sales slip in writing.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Saving Green

So we are planning a new store. We have been a 1 store shop since 1923, so thinking about a new one is not part of our DNA. Here is the process:

1. Hire architects
2. Hire retail analysts to understand your brand
3. Go out to different stores to see what is applicable
4. Have 12 meetings(and arguments) to build a prototype
5. Hire builder for preconstruction estimates
6. More meetings regarding costs

You have a higher appreciation of Green when you realize the costs of electricity and HVAC. We are now hiring a Green architect to assess the cost savings of wind and solar, but the biggest savings is a product in stock...Any Guesses?


LED and compact fluorescent can decrease the electrical load by 60-80%. It will also detract from the associated costs to HVAC, as incandescent will heat to 300 degrees and LED does not add heat.

I have written about the advantages to LED (20 year life, good lumen output, 80% cost savings), but the payback in my opinion is only justifiable in the long term. For consumers renovating or building, the payback is much shorter when you factor the associated costs to conventional products.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Ads, Opinions, Etc.

When I first started blogging almost 2 years ago, I read about companies who designed their ads based on consumer feedback. Here is your chance(if you are so inclined)


Monday, September 08, 2008

A Few Of My Favorite Things

LED recessed from Cree: First, for a $30-40 more per can, LED uses 1/5 the power, emits zero heat(saving HVAC and electric costs) and has a 20 year lamp life.


Bosch integrated refrigeration: Integrating a refrigerator is a great design idea. Bosch is the most affordable way of achieving the look.


GE Cafe French Door: GE refrigeration has staged a huge comeback in refrigeration. Dumping LG as the source may be a reason. Deciding to build a better product may be another reason. I am just speculating.


Frigidaire slide in: Frigidaire has not been hurt by the recession, because they manufacture nicely styled yet affordable products. This gas range has power and simmer burners as well as convection and warming drawer for about $600-100 less than their competition.


Induction: Any induction, really. Induction is 90% efficient versus 60% for gas and 55% for electric. The technology is vastly superior in heating, simmering, child safety and does not emit heat like the others. A hybrid unit starts at $1500, which is way less expensive than a Pro.


Friday, September 05, 2008

Extended Warranties

Interesting article in The Journal today about extended warranties


GE is selling their extended warranty business to an insurance company Assurant. Although the basic math behind an extended warranty is simple, smaller payment to avoid a theoretical larger payment later. It seems to be a hot button topic with consumers.

MY Take:

A. Never be bullied into buying a service plan. Many companies require their associates to sell a certain percentage of their products with warranties

B. NEVER buy a service plan from a company that does not have an actual service company. How will this product be fixed without actual repair people.

The math works in theory. Just insure the actual service does

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Its Whats on the Inside That Counts

2007 was the year of the integrated refrigerator with Thermador, Bosch and Gaggenau introductions. Miele has entered the fray this year (last month actually).

Integrated refrigeration is actually shallower than even shallow depth refrigerators, so it is the same depth as the cabinet. In this case a picture helps the explanation:

Anyway, we now have 4 new products to choose...which is best?

Well, your decision is easier than expected, because they are essentially the same box...


Bosch: Basic

Thermador: Hydraulic shelves

Gaggenau: Stainless interiors and hydraulic shelves

Miele: Masterchef controls, better lighting and easier installation

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Advertising, Package Rebates and Other Stuff

As you know, I ceded my spot as CMO to a very capable Igor Muravyev. Our styles could not be more different. I was a radio guy. He is a print person. I am about leveraging our competitive difference. He is about shopping experience as a purchasing driver. Store environment is important for me, but in recessionary times price has to be a main driver. I also think you can price and brand in the same ad.

As I have said, he wasn't hired to be me. So he wins...for now.

But he doesn't write the blog (yet).

Seriously, the only silver lining to a recession is the rebating from manufacturers. The sole intent is to maintain the factory output....For people renovating, this becomes a huge purchasing advantage.

For example:

You are looking at the Frigidaire Professional series: 5 burner gas range with convection, integrated dishwasher, over the range microwave and matching top mount refrigerator. After mail in rebates of 25%, the price becomes $1799 for the package.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Undercounter Refrigeration

Perhaps the least understood product sold is the undercounter refrigerator. Smaller refrigerators have become more popular augmenting larger refrigerators in kitchen or as part of bar/entertainment areas.However, there are not any major brands and the starting price is roughly $1000. Many consumers consider throwing in a dorm refrigerator for $200 and be done with it.



Well you can't...True undercounter refrigerators have compressors at the bottom instead of the back, so it will not overheat when placed in a cabinet. So lets make this easier.

First, undercounter refrigerators, like other appliances, are designed to fit cabinets at 15 or 24 inches wide. The dominant brands are Electrolux, GE Monogram, Uline and SubZero. Now all you have to choose is the configuration: refrigerator, wine storage, refrigerator with wine storage, icemaker, refrigerator with icemaker, freezer, refrigerator with freezer, freezer and icemaker.