Store Manager, Johno Fritch and VP of Retail Sales & son of Grand Appliance owner & CEO, Aaron Reckling.
By Allyssa Baird, YSN
As part of a controlled growth strategy, BrandSource member Grand Appliance & TV opened a new store in Round Lake Beach, Ill., this November, marking the 24th showroom within Grand’s four-state footprint.
At almost 6,700 square feet, it’s considered to be one of their “smaller” locations, as most of Grand’s stores are in the 7,000-10,000-square-foot range. Asked why the Waukegan-based business chose Round Lake Beach, VP of Retail Sales Aaron Reckling explained, “This location bridges the gap for us since we have locations in both Libertyville and Crystal Lake. What made opening a store here particularly enticing was that the Lowe’s and Sears stores have closed their doors in the past year and a half.”
Reckling, son of Grand Appliance owner and CEO Mark Reckling, said the new store carries a full array of appliances with the exception of ultra-premium products, due to the marketplace. However, it also features a unique product line called “B” goods. “B” goods are physically defective but completely functional appliances that are purchased “as is” directly from manufacturers. They are offered at reduced prices and are provide great values for the consumer, he said.
To promote the “Grand” opening, the company sent about 150,000 direct mail pieces to targeted addresses in the Lake County area, and also aired a small amount of TV advertising. It was very important for Grand to get the store up and running as quickly as possible, as its advertising ran simultaneously with the Black Friday promo window.
Grand also plans to open two additional Wisconsin stores, in Green Bay, where they will be taking over an old Mattress Firm location, and in Germantown, outside Milwaukee, where they will occupy a former appliance showroom that has been vacant for four years. “B” goods will be offered at the Germantown location as well.
The company currently operates nine retail stores in Wisconsin, 11 in its native Illinois, three in Indiana and one in Iowa.
Asked whether they could be stretching their management thin between all of their locations, Reckling replied, “As far as management goes, we’re lean and mean. But in terms of operational infrastructure, we currently have a regional merchandiser who visits every store once per month to grade them. He goes through our Grand Appliance grading process where each store must get at least a 95 percent. He looks at things such as open order reports, listens to the employees give warranty pitches, audits cleanliness, and makes sure price tags are up. Since we are expanding, we plan on hiring another regional merchandiser to help with the workload.”
Now the big question … how grand does Grand intend to get? Will it expand to other parts of the country as well? Reckling’s response was open ended. “We don’t plan on stopping growth if there are voids within the marketplace present itself,” he said.
Reckling acknowledged that over-expansion by past retailers like hhgregg ultimately led to their demise, but his company has no intention of following in their path. Indeed, Grand does not believe it is in anyway like those types of retailers, as it finds its people first, rather than the real estate.
“People are what matter because they have the relationships with the customers,” Reckling said. “When we go into a marketplace looking to expand, we go for the people first” – possibly including former hhgregg and Sears employees – “and then we build the building.”
This approach, which stems from the longstanding philosophy of Reckling’s father and grandfather, has proven to be a successful strategy for the entire Grand Appliance family.
YSN is published by BrandSource parent company AVB Inc.