For decades, Olmstead's TV tunes into same successful formula
Gene Olmstead sees an opportunity every time someone walks through the doors of his downtown Batavia shop.
But it's not just another sale he sees.
"Every new customers is basically an opportunity to make a new friend," said Olmstead, who runs a television and appliance shop his father started in 1946.
And for Olmstead, many of the customers who have walked into Olmstead's HD TV & Appliance have turned into friends.
"It's fun and I enjoy meeting new people," said Olmstead, who has worked at the store for the last 48 years.
It's that kind of atmosphere that has helped keep Olmstead's store alive and competitive with the big box stores, he says.
"We have the same type of products (as other stores)," said Olmstead. "The uniqueness would be in our service and interaction with our customers."
"It's a family-owned business that supports Batavia and can interact with people from the community, versus someone from somewhere else in the country that really has no interest in the town," he added.
Olmstead's father, Lee, opened the shop as a small appliance store. Two years after opening, he added small televisions to his selection, the biggest model being a 4-inch black and white Motorola. Today, the shop's stock is mainly televisions, with a 65- and 70-inch television being the largest.
As the shop's founder, Lee Olmstead was a regular fixture at the shop, working until just a few weeks before his death four years ago.
"It was one of his joys in life," Gene Olmstead said. "He came down here virtually everyday and looked forward to greeting people or talking to people. Many people have certainly missed him." Following in his father's footsteps, Olmstead is at the shop nearly everyday to help customers. His two sons also help.
He prides himself on being able to help his customers himself rather than instructing them to call a customer service number. If a set is broken, he has people at the shop who do repairs.
"We service everything ourselves," he said.
In addition to television sets, the shop also carries audio systems, DVD players and VCRs. Olmstead also has added GPS equipment to the stock.
"We did sell more appliances years ago," he said. "Now we specialize in electronics."
It's a formula that has worked well for the store and Olmstead plans to continue following it. He and his staff of two part-time employees keep up on the changes in the electronics world through product information on the Internet and seminars at conventions.
As part of a buying group for smaller shops, Olmstead is able to team up with other shop owners to make bulk purchases and keep prices competitive.
Olmstead's HD TV & Appliance is located at 221 W. Wilson St. in Batavia and can be reached by calling (630) 879-1286. Store hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. The shop is closed Sundays.