An interview with Richard Garner, owner, Roy's Maytag Home Appliance Center 129 W. Bond St. Astoria (800) 325-7815

Richard Garner sold cars in Astoria for 30 years until the day he mentioned to a friend he would like to have his own business. That friend was the daughter of Roy Kinnunen, the founder of Roy's Maytag Home Appliance Center in Uniontown. Garner purchased the business from Kinnunen's daughter, Karen Van Cleave, in 2000 and has been selling Maytag and its associated brands at the store ever since.

The shop is something of a throwback, because it sells only Maytag and its subsidiary brands (such as Amana and Hoover), and it offers sales, service and parts. The store was founded in 1968 and has seen the passing of two different Maytag television repairmen, both of whom are pictured in the store with the former owners. It now has eight employees. Walk in and Garner will try to sell you everything from a microblender to an economy stove to a high-end, stainless steel refrigerator.

Why would someone come to your business?

"Because we're local, and Roy had always had a great reputation, and Maytag has a reputation for products that last and last. The Maytag appliances are pretty much the same price no matter where you buy them. I think the perception of the public is: 'If it's a big box store, the prices must be lower on everything.' But that isn't necessarily true."

Besides being local, what advantages do you have?

"Trained technicians. We fix all machines, Whirlpools, GEs, etc. If you slam the door on the fridge and the milk falls off and the shelf breaks, we can get that shelf for you. The style of doing business (here) is one of the older in the United States. That's one of the things that Maytag has insisted upon: service technicians and parts."

According to the television commercials, the Maytag repairman is always bored, with nothing to do. Why do you even need repair technicians?

"Mechanical devices do wear out. They do breakdown. And there are wear parts. On cars, the wear parts are the windshield wipers, the tires. Home appliances have them, too. Also, sometimes we abuse our appliances."

What is your typical annual sales volume?

"Approximately $500,000 to $600,000."

What is the most difficult part of running your business?

"Time management. You get 23 calls on Monday morning, and they all want their machine fixed right now. We get a lot of calls for stove repairs just before Thanksgiving and Christmas. We also try to help people repair their own machines by giving them advice."

Is Maytag really the best brand?

"Absolutely. Well ... there are a lot of good brands. Everybody likes to think that they are selling or representing the best brand out there. Maytag has a pretty good reputation, and they have been around for quite a while."

- Patrick Drake

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