“I was very impressed with the quality,” said Thomas Bean, “and we’ll be able to explain to our customers that it’s not only a 3D TV – which people are asking. The educational tracks being offered here are very helpful, so that you can really know about what you’re selling.” Charmaine Bean seconded that sentiment about the newest lines of appliances on display at the Expo. She noted that knowing about certain performance-enhancing features such as the Frigidaire dishwashers that offer lower-water-pressure settings for washing fine china and the new induction technology in Samsung ovens would go a long way in helping sell-through. Their business, sustained through last year’s economic doldrums by their repair service that helped compensate for slower sales, is up this year – thanks in part to the fact that “people are sick of fixing their own stuff or having it fixed. They’re now looking for new,” said Thomas Bean. He added that the appliance sales upswing is also partly due to the Cash for Clunkers program.
“Cash for Clunkers for appliances has had a dramatic effect,” echoed Chaiken, “because, unlike with the car program, it’s rolling out state by state and the beneficial effects are staggered over a longer period. There’s also a better vibe as far as business out there – people are coming into the stores.”
Larry Rosen, president of The Record Shop, a single-store CE independent in Cherry Hill, N.J., came to Expo, he said, both for the learning experience, and to look at some different brands that could help bolster business. He said he is keenly interested in hyping 3D technology, and is already carrying the Samsung system. “It has picked up TV sales and helped bring up our higher-end sales,” he said. But he hasn’t yet been able to advertise it, as supplies are so tight. “They’re tough to get. We can’t get enough and we’re selling all we can get – in glasses and 3D Blu-ray players – but we sometimes don’t get all the parts at the same time.” He does see a plus effect on sales of other flat panels he carries – due in part to Samsung and Sharp advertising efforts. “Customers come in and don’t know exactly what the new, thin LED TVs are but it’s a buzzword and they are asking questions” – a positive sign that business will pick up – along with the fact that this is tax refund time.