Honest opinions about how to buy Appliances and Lighting.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Retail Planning

Last year, I spent 118,000 planning a second store. It has not happened yet, functional word yet, but it is easy to understand how commercial lighting is adapted to residential.

Lamp choices will change in 10 years. In a new store, the most expensive part is the HVAC system, lets look at the impact of bulbs in adding added temperature (and more cost) into the room.

Incandescent - 300 degrees

Fluorescent - 100 degrees

LED - 0 added heat

Think of the savings over the lifetime...Roughly $1122 over 17 years per bulb PLUS the savings to to HVAC.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Occasionally, I will sell on the floor, which is perhaps the reason they kicked me to marketing. I see people drive themselves into contortions for really simple distinctions.

Let's look at a cooktop and try to take the mystique out of this buying decision. Personally, I like the new Bosch with a 17,000 BTU center burner, which is double the power of your older unit.

But what is a cooktop really, its a piece of flat steel with high and low heat settings. Find the price/heat setting requirements which fit your lifestyle and budget. Yeah its that easy.

Remember, I am still on vacation...you will only be launching invective at poor Pat

Monday, July 27, 2009


When you read this it will be Monday, where I am now will be Tuesday, but I am writing this on a Sunday. Now for more confusion, lets look at the integrated Electrolux and JennAir...

The JennAir is $1149, and the Electrolux is $699.

This is curious, because it is the same dishwasher. JennAir sells them to Electrolux, but then they can't move them at $1299 and close them out at $699.

Do I like this dishwasher at $1299, heck no, at $699 however, for a fully featured integrated dishwasher...its a pretty good price.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Same Range, Different Label

Today is my last post as I am off to visit a friend in Manila of all places. I will be ghost writing posts for the next two weeks. In the meantime, say hello to Pat.

Anyway, about 2 years ago, Bosch discontinued their most affordable range. Affordability evidentally has a different meaning in Germany, because this range was $950.

Somehow someone in the company had the peculiar notion that Americans buy ranges under $1200. So what do you do when you have a need for a product yet lack the capacity to build it?

You buy it from someone else...Introducing the new affordable Bosch ranges built by Electrolux...

I am out of here...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

$1000 Dollars

Most Manufacturers have a middle mentality. They are truly scared to sell upscale products, because they are unsure of their own value propositions.

Lets look at one of my favorite companies, Bosch, and their new counter depth side by side:

Digital full featured ice maker and LED lighting. Its a very nice refrigerator, but look at their entry level piece...

Basic ice maker and regular lighting for an affordable 1929. Bosch then rebates this product $350, so now it is now $1000 less than their other piece and $500 cheaper than every other piece in the category

Total Savings $1100 plus...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lets Vent

I love selling stuff to my friends. You can be brutally honest without pretense. So they are looking at hood vents, and ask what I think about the new Electrolux and Wolf hoods (our manager Dennis Macdonald has a hood fetish, and we have probably 70-80 hoods on display).

Have a look:

My response: My job is to insure the blower and capture area are sufficient to vent your cooking surface. You pick the decoration.

Polite translation:

Ventilation is blower speed, capture area (depth) and venting...period. You do not need the most expensive hood to vent your kitchen.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Week of Buying Smart

This week will focus on intelligent buying. Its about buying products not necessarily names. So pay attention to these next two induction cooktops(as a review induction is the fastest and most energy efficient cooking surface):

Top piece is the ultra chic Gaggenau cooktop complete with knob control. The other is the ever popular Thermador cooktop with didtal controls....The Gaggenau is $4159 and the Thermador is about $3000.

Its the same unit....Total savings $1159

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cool Kelvin

First, Pat installed Google Reactions at the bottom of each post to gauge opinion. Think of it as particpation without commentary.

Now look at these two sconces...

The one on the left is a 15 watt incandescent...and the one on the right is a 5 watt fluorescent. You probably still hate fluorescent despite my pleas to think otherwise, but it does look better. This is a color rendering fluorescent, which has the same characteristics of an incandescent.

Now look at the benefits:

More light using 1/3 the energy

7 year lamp life versus 7 months for the incandescent

Less than 1/3 the heat output, which in a showroom of lights lowers the temperature and saves HVAC costs.

I want you to stop thinking about types of light in terms of light quality. Buy a bulb based on the Kelvin scale. Clean, white light is at 2500-3000 degress Kelvin, and poor lighting is 3500-5000 degrees.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Lights Dim in Beantown

Have to confess, I am an insomniac..always have been. So here it is at 2:14 in the morning, and I am reading Boston.com. Two businesses, Boston institutions, are calling it quits, Yolandas and WBCN.

Fo the unfamilar, Yolandas was the place to buy a bridal gown in the city(I have deftly managed to avoid that scenario). She is 74, and simply calling it quits to spend time with her family. She is going the way of many, locally owned businesses. Between capitalization and succession planning, most businesses dont reach a second much less a third generation...

WBCN shutting down is a shock. The station created alternative rock back in 1968. I remember as a kid always listening. In fact, before I went to college in 1982, I used to wake up at 5 just to listen to Charles and The Big Mattress Morning Show. That was unbelievable, free form radio. Over the years, to quote J Geils(their frontman Peter Wolf was an early DJ) BCN "must have got lost"(great tune), and with competition from Itunes and satelite could not compete without a clear value proposition.

Sad day for this city especially since there is no clear replacement..as the CEO of Yale(an institution wannabe) the message resonates: Stay relevant, competitive and plan for the future or else

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Buy This, Not That...Maybe

Love that book, Eat This, Not That...especially when I discovered my favorite tuna sandwich was 1200 calories with 75 grams of fat.

Our adaptation is Buy this, Not that.....(am I reaching?)

Buy this: The french door refrigerator will allow for greater lateral storage and more refrigerator room than a side by side. The doors are also split, which is better in tighter spaces and island installations.

Not That...Maybe. The side by side used to be the standard. It is not as hip, cool or functional as the french. It can be, however, almost $1000 cheaper in a shallow depth configuration. Some people have a different idea of cool with another $1000 in their pocket

Monday, July 13, 2009

How to Light Your Kitchen...Part 4

To review, the other 3 components of a light plan:

Task Lighting: Track, recessed and undercounter lighting designed as the backbone of your lighting plan.

Accent: Designed to highlight objects

Decorative: Chandeliers and wall sconces designed to personalize the space. Decorative adds light, but is secondary to task for overall illumination.

This brings us to a forgotten, yet important element of your plan, Ambient lighting. Ambient provides pleasant(weak word, but I am just returned from the red eye), environmental lighting. It has been called the "roaring fire" by lighting designers.

I prefer to call it "uplighting" or fixtures, which light the ceiling. Pendants and semi-flushes can provide ambient lighting...Cove lighting. can achieve the same result as well

Let me show you a few applications...

You are confused? Just remember a pendant, for example, can provide decorative and ambient functions.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

How to Light a Kitchen Part 3: Accent

Why am I spending so much time in the kitchen? When you watch TV in the living room or go to sleep in the bedroom, you are shutting the light down or off. Kitchens and baths are a different story and really the only true task applications in your house.

As the kitchen has become all encompassing to include the living space, there are many opportunities for different types of light. You may have artwork on the walls, pottery on a counter or crystal in a cabinet, which you would like to highlight. Accent lighting provides this function.

For example, Next time you are in a nice hotel and see a beautiful flower arrangement, look up. It will most certainly be highlighted by accent lghting. The most common accent lights (for now) are pinhole recessed, which looks like this(they can be smaller)...

Or track lighting

They both utilize a low voltage bulb, which is slightly whiter than an incandescent. This whiter light is great accent lighting. Crate and Barrel utilizes this light commercially better than anyone, especially glassware.

Off today...will respond to questions Monday.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Lighting a Kitchen Part 2: Decorative

So we have our task lighting, which is the most important. Most consumers, however, would believe the chandelier or decorative element is the most crucial. This is partly true, because decorative personalizes the space, but task lighting lights it.

Most people think otherwise. The old way was to size light, which was 24 inches off the table and 12 inches less in diameter. With islands and penisulas being the rage, finding a fixture with those specifications is not easy.

Forget convention, I am writing this at home. My chandelier is 36 inches off the table and way smaller. I think it fits the space. But here are some other ideas. Remember what I have said previously...Have fun with this.


We may as well show off a bit...Have a look at some new stuff.

Accent lighting is tomorrow. Then I am on vacation. We will finish and amalgamate a plan next week.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

How To Light Your Space...Kitchens

Ok, now how do you light a kitchen?

This is a much hard question, because lighting is not direct replacement like appliances. There is so much more to proper illumination as well. First, there are 4 sources of illumination: Task, decorative, accent and ambient. I will cover task today, and the other three in separate posts.

Task is general illumination or backbone of any lighting plan and is most commonly track, recessed and under-cabinet lighting. I will provide the basic framework for a lighting plan. Ceiling height, angles, stud locations, etc. can alter the standard.

Basic recessed placement is 18 to 24 inches off the cabinet or at the edge of the counter. Place them 4-5 feet apart.

Couple of aesthetic tips: Use a 4-5 inch can rather than a 6 inch and for kitchens buy the white trim (industry term for decorative).

Second important part is the under-cabinet lighting. Typically an under-cabinet light is available in 7,16,24,30 and 37 inches. This type of task application will illuminate the shaded part of your counters and provide accent lighting as well.

Sample of one of our lighted kitchens....Don't worry in the next couple of weeks, you will be able to engineer your own lighting plan.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Increasing Power Of Social Media

I have previously written about this before, but social media has become much more important even in the last 6 months. Here is a test: How many over 40 somethings are now texting or posting on Linkedin or Facebook. Its not just for the kids anymore.

I have to respect the power, and truthfully it is a concern, threat or opportunity for anyone running a business today. We have 22 salespeople, 7 delivery vehicles and 17 service vans. Odds are a client will be unhappy at some point. We have worked on service, service recovery and immediate response to any bad postings. Constructive criticism can only help (if you can take it).

It will change the way you will buy appliances. In home improvement, there are three social media sites worth checking out:

1. Angies List..There are at present 66 reviews of Yale on this site. It is geared towards home improvement and requires a small fee to join. Well worth the cost

2. Yelp: Geared towards shopping with a younger, hippier audience, this is a fun site

3. Citysearch: Another shopping site similar to Yelp

Typically you see the negative, but look for patterns in mistakes. For shoppers, this is a good indication of your overall sales experience.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Happy July 4th

Now have a look at a project we have been working on seemingly forever...

I hate our old website. This one is better, because it is customizeable

Let me know what you think

Thursday, July 02, 2009

New Bosch

Bosch has introduced a new side by side refrigerator. Sure, side by sides are being out sold 10-1 by french doors, and Bosch does not market that popular category...

At $1599 after rebates, it is $700-1000 cheaper than the comparable french door. This is a good, less expensive alternative for people who want to renovate/sell their units for less.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


Celebrating (ok maybe merely pointing out) the launch of the new line of Frigidaire appliances....



In my opinion, they will still have the kitchen packages, but is the styling similar enough for replacement?