Pulaski Appliance celebrating 35 years in business

Pulaski Appliance celebrating 35 years in business

By MIKE WILLIAMS

The Patriot

Back in March of 1987, Steve and Mark Horton had a decision to make.

The Carroll County natives had recently graduated from Surry Community College in Dobson, N.C. near Mt. Airy and had gone to work – Steve at Rose’s in Galax and Mark at Heilig-Meyers Furniture.

After a while the Hortons learned from friends in Galax who were General Electric appliance dealers that the company was looking for someone to open a GE franchise store either in Wytheville or Pulaski.

“People come in wanting to know where the guys are that used to run this place,” joked Steve Horton. “This picture proves I had hair.” This photo was taken not long after Pulaski Appliance first opened. Steve is on the left, Mark is on the right. (Photo courtesy of Pulaski Appliance)

The two brothers decided to make the move and chose Pulaski as the home of their new appliance store.

And Pulaski Appliance was born.

Today – 35 years later – Steve and Mark Horton say they made the right decision.

“We’ve been blessed,” says Mark.

“Yes, definitely,” replied Steve. “Pulaski has been good to us. We’ve made a lot of friends, and a lot of repeat customers.”

Many of those longtime and repeat customers likely remember when Pulaski Appliance first opened.

Their first location was in historic Downtown Pulaski at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street in what longtime residents will remember as the former Dee’s Cut-Rate Building.

Steve and Mark made the perfect team for appliance store owners. Steve handled the business side of the operation, putting to good use the business management degree he earned at Surry Community College. While Mark put his electrical engineering degree to work installing and servicing the appliances they sold.

It’s remained pretty much that way for the past 35 years.

In November of 1999, the Hortons decided the turn of the century was a good time to open a new store in a building all their own with plenty of room for growth, and they had their present location built at 651 East Main Street.

The extra room they wanted was put to good use about three years later when they purchased Emmanuel Bookstore and moved it into their building.

The Hortons have seen a variety of changes over the past 35 years, but possibly the greatest changes have occurred in just the past few years with the growth of the internet and technology and the arrival of the COVID pandemic.

“Supply issues have been the biggest challenge in the last couple years,” Steve remarked.

He noted that for the most part, people have been understanding. And, he said, the situation has also had its advantages.

“It’s prompted people to shop local more when they find out they can’t get something just anywhere. It brings in more customers to the local stores. We have a better idea on time frames of deliveries than what the bigger stores can give them,” he said.

“People have become more small business oriented,” Mark added. “They like supporting hometown businesses.”

Of course, appliances themselves have changed a great deal.

“Appliances have become more modern, and many are Wi-Fi-accessible. You can control them with your phone even. I don’t think our generation looks to do that very much, but the younger generation expects to control the world with their phones,” laughed Mark.

He added that new washers have greater capacity than they used to.

“Longevity is probably not the same it was years ago,” Mark said, however.

“Refrigerators are more modern and energy efficient too,” Steve added.

He noted there is a lot more power through the internet than there was 10 years ago.

“We do tremendous online sales from our webpage,” Mark noted. “It really ramped up during COVID.”

He told of how recently a customer came in the store to get all her kitchen appliances.

“She had already picked them out, had the measurements and knew what would fit, by looking at our webpage,” Mark said.

He noted, too, that repairs are easier today.

“They’re easier from the physical standpoint, but harder as far as the technical standpoint is concerned.”

Even during the pandemic, Pulaski Appliance has seen steady to strong business.

“Even during COVID we never really saw a lull in traffic,” Steve said. “The first month of COVID we saw one of the biggest increases we’ve seen in business, and it’s maintained since then.”

Mark recalled a woman coming into the store during the pandemic explaining she was a beautician.

“She said if they’re going to shut down the beauty shops, I’ll have to have a stove. I haven’t had one in about three years,” Mark said.

He noted that kitchen appliances have really sold well during the pandemic, and they continue to now due to food prices.

Pulaski Appliance continues to sell the top appliance brands, including GE, Hotpoint, Whirlpool, Kitchen Aid, Amana, Maytag, Frigidaire and Midea as well as Toyo laser heaters.

In observance of their 35th year, Pulaski Appliance will hold an anniversary sale later this month. All the details will be in the March 18th issue of The Patriot.

Asked what message they would like to send to their customers after 35 years, the Hortons said simply they are “grateful for their business,” and that they plan to continue to serve the needs of this area into the future.

Photo: Steve (left) and Mark Horton, owners of Pulaski Appliance.