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The Dust Never Settles On Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City

JACKSON, MISS. — Cowboy Maloney’s Electric City is located far from the world’s entertainment and communications centers of Los Angeles and New York, but it has had an outsized impact on both.

In the 61 years since founder Cowboy Maloney began selling built-in appliances from his lumber yard, the family-held business has been on the cutting edge of technology and industry trends.

Cowboy, so named for the appliance corral that became a fixture of his stores, added TVs to the mix when the first TV station in Mississippi began broadcasting, and later expanded statewide with the 1991 acquisition of Electric City from Southern Co., a Southeast electric utility.

Within three years, the chain, now run by Cowboy’s sons Con, Eddie and Johnny Maloney, secured its place in history by selling the first DirecTV home satellite system in the world. The NATM buying group dealer would go on to serve as the launch pad for other groundbreaking technologies, including satellite radio (selling the first Sirius car audio system in the country in 2002) and, more recently, DishNet.

The latter, a high-speed satellite Internet service offered nationwide by Dish, made its retail debut here last year at a special event attended by industry dignitaries, including Dish president/ CEO Joe Clayton, who had also led Sirius and headed Thomson’s rollout of DirecTV.

Still, 2013 may prove to be the busiest year in company history. Building on its 2007 acquisition of Riverwood Home Appliances, a two-store premium appliance chain that provided access to luxury lines, the company bought a former Viking Cooking School location in Ridgeland, Miss., last spring, which is adjacent to a Viking appliance store it operated there.

The Viking Store by Cowboy Maloney’s, which had been converted from one of the two Riverwood showrooms, was described by president Eddie Maloney as Viking’s largest branded shop in the country, and has been enjoying successive monthly sales gains. It has since been combined with the former franchised cooking school into Cowboy’s Kitchens, a new-format showplace for super-premium appliances and live cooking demonstrations and events. New signage and other finishing touches are being added and a grand reopening is scheduled for this week.

“Being a family-owned Mississippi company for over 61 years, it just made sense to take over the Viking Cooking School space and to add more appliance vendors,” CEO Con Maloney said.

Also new this year is furniture. Building on its success in mattresses and beds, Cowboy Maloney’s introduced the category to three Jackson-area stores this past summer and is currently adding it to a fourth location, in Vicksburg. The assortment is merchandised as packages of living room, dining room and bedroom suites dubbed “Furniture Favorites,” along with recliners and bedding.

The company said the move was prompted by the recent closure of several furniture shops around Jackson, leaving the market under-stored, and the extra space that was freed up when rear-projection TVs were replaced by flat panel models.

“It should be as successful as the launch of DirecTV, Sirius Satellite Radio and DishNet satellite Internet,” Con said.