GRAPEVINE, TEXAS —
Despite the celebratory backdrop of Nationwide’s 40th anniversary PrimeTime! show, members from around the country described market conditions that, while less than dire, are hardly encouraging.
“Business sucks,” one Kansas dealer bluntly told TWICE, while others more decorously spoke of slow traffic, weak sales and cautious consumers who are limiting themselves to replacement purchases.
A rare exception was APSCO Appliance Centers in Clearwater, Fla. Now in its 39th year, the three-showroom dealer, which ranked 52nd on TWICE’s 2011 Top 100 Major Appliance Retailers Report, bucked the depressed housing market and an influx of hhgregg stores to post a solid 5 percent sales gain last year.
“Are we breaking records? No. But are we worried about going out of business? No,” said Laura Greco, who handles marketing and advertising for the family-held business. “Things were way worse two years ago.”
Greco attributes the glad tidings to several initiatives, including the addition of cable TV to its traditional print ad efforts, and the creation of a quarterly scratch-and-dent sale event, that has added about $1 million to company coffers annually.
APSCO, which does its own repairs, also expanded its service area in anticipation of hhgregg’s market entry, and countered the chain’s grand-opening events with “a huge sale” of its own that resulted in its best weekend ever, she said.
Greco also gives credit to its superior sales staff, and vendor support with buying opportunities. And, unlike most retailers’ reports, July 4 proved to be another strong weekend for the business, with robust sales of complete appliance suites in addition to individual items.
Looking ahead, the company has begun scouting real estate for additional locations, and is looking forward to its new affiliation with Nationwide and access to the group’s state-of-the-art video production facility in Atlanta.
“We expect a good fall,” said principal Al Greco. “I believe the worst is behind us.”