The moment I first used a dishwasher, I was sold.
I grew up in a house with grandparents who cooked and cleaned up most nights, and they certainly never used a dishwasher. I can still picture my grandfather moisturizing his calloused, steelworker hands after scrubbing the dishes in steamy hot water each night after dinner.
My grandmother dried and put the dishes away. I helped when they asked but I was usually eating dessert — Entenmann’s mostly, but Tastykakes and Wawa ice cream were in the rotation in that part of Eastern Pennsylvania in the 1970s.
I made my way through college and aside from the commercial dish sprayer in my fratenity house’s kitchen I managed to live in two off-campus apartments and a communal farm house and still managed to avoid the convenience of a dishwasher.
Then I moved to the New York area and suddenly, a dishwasher was a necessity, not a luxury. I looked at it in awe. My roommate thought I was crazy. He grew up with a dishwasher. He had no idea what a life-changer for me it was.
Then I moved into an apartment with a gas stove. Direct heat was a revelation! After 25 years of electric elements I learned why chefs use gas to cook.
From then on I coveted the perfect kitchen. Unfortunately my paycheck at the time was prohibitive to that wish.
My wife will tell you that when we finally gave up on urban life and resigned ourselves to childrearing in the suburbs, the single biggest selling point to the house we chose was the kitchen. I got one glimpse of the Bosch dishwasher and the Viking commercial six-burner stove and there was no doubt we were buying it.
I have never been a fashion guy, which I don’t have to even mention to anyone who knows me. I am not a car guy either. I don’t measure my happiness in horsepower or thread count. But everyone has a taste for luxury. Mine is in my appliances.
Face it, washing clothes sucks. So does washing dishes. And unless you cook as a hobby, preparing dinner is not something most people look forward to. But yet, one of the hottest categories in all of retail is major appliances.
People seek solutions to problems and technology is often the answer. And if a new BMW doesn’t blow air up your dress, maybe a convection oven with a sous vide pot option is in your wheelhouse.
Americans are increasingly turning inward, We are spending less on vacations, less on clothes, less on nights out. But what we are spending money on is our homes and our families, and entertaining is the new night out.
In the past decade, a significant number of technology retailers have devoted more display and inventory space to major appliances. The family that dropped $30,000 on a custom home theater room in 1991 is now taking that investment and buying French-door refrigerators and griddle top stoves. High-end outdoor grills are one of the fasting growing categories in all of retail.
They say home is where the heart is. These days, increasingly, home is also where the wallet is. The opportunities are ever-growing and with the ascendence of connected appliances and the smart home, home is also where the margin is.