People who are accustomed to shopping at the big-box warehouse or a smartphone app will notice something’s different when they walk into an independent appliance store.
“It’s personal service, all across the board,” says Mike Gulgren, co-owner of Gulgren Appliance in Crystal Lake. “It’s like it used to be, not like it is at most places now.”
It starts at the top. Gulgren and his brother-in-law, business co-owner Greg Danielson, regularly meet with customers. Danielson oversees the service department and makes house calls.
Gulgren helps with deliveries. Their staff of nearly a dozen handle everything from office management and sales to parts and service. Every call is answered by someone on the team, not a stranger at an 800 number.
Gary Dinelli has been working the sales floor for 20 years, and that alone distinguishes him from his big-box competitors – not to mention the online shops where human help is nonexistent.
Unlike the box store, where sales staff may know little about what they’re selling, Dinelli educates consumers on what they’re seeing and touching. He knows details they won’t find online.
“They might ask me about a certain product and I’ll tell them, ‘You don’t want that,’” says Dinelli. “They might try to argue it, but what I’ll do is share with them the track record of those products. I know they’re going to have problems.”
Gulgren Appliance services most major brands, even if they didn’t sell the product. What’s more, customers don’t have to call an 800 number and then wait around for help. Sometimes, a phone call is all that’s needed to resolve the issue. When a service call is needed, a familiar face will ensure the problem is resolved quickly. It helps that Gulgren Appliance maintains a large inventory of replacement parts.
When it’s time to replace that worn-out appliance, there’s another familiar face greeting customers at the door.
“We’re at the point where generation after generation has been doing business with us,” says Danielson. “The grandparents came here, their kids came here, and now their grandkids are coming here.”
Gulgren Appliance is located at 424 W. Terra Cotta Ave., in Crystal Lake, (815) 459-4380.