Retail Observer

February 2014

The Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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Page 9 of 83

RETAILOBSERVER.COM FEBRUARY 2014 10 T hrough the years, the company has seen the introduction of many marvels of technology such as television, self-cleaning ovens, frost- free refrigerators and microwaves. The brothers got started in retail when their parents, who owned a dry goods store on Madison Ave. in Cleveland, allowed their sons to use a window to display radio parts. T hey were successful from the start and opened their own store shortly after selling crystal sets and radio kits. Unfortunately, Chester died just a few years later of tuberculosis leaving Irving to carry on by himself. During the 1920's and 30's Snow Brothers Appliance sold mostly radios and speakers before branching out into mixers, irons, percolators, toasters, electric washing machines and gas electric ranges. A radio service call in your home in 1930-1932 was 50 cents! In 1934, washers were sold for $29.95 with a free year supply of soap. In 1947, the same year that television was introduced, the company added home delivery service. Many Clevelanders caught their first glimpse of television through the window of Snow Brothers. One of the most popular sections of the store during the 1950's was the record department with its built in listening booths. Irving spent many Christmas Eves and other cold nights climbing poles with spiked shoes to install antennas. Irving had two daughters, Sandy and Barbara. Bob Kent, who would eventually take over the business from Irving, started working in the store in 1953 while he and Sandy were still dating. Bob worked part time in the warehouse for $2 an hour. Later that same year he enlisted in the army and was stationed in Fort Jackson, S.C. but worked at the store during holidays. In 1955, Bob and Sandy were married. Sandy stayed home and raised the kids but worked part time paying the bills and handling the co-op advertising claims. Although Bob always pushed his children to go to college and pursue other interests, his son Bill and daughter Sharon decided to join the business after graduating from college. One of Bill's best friends from high school, Jim Ager, was also part of the family and played an intricate role in the business for over 20 years acting as buyer and sales manager. Sadly, Jim passed away from cancer at the age of 41. Bob passed from lung cancer in 2001 and Sandy from colon cancer in 2005. Irving's grandchildren, Bill Kent, now CEO and Sharon Bennett, marketing director of Snow Brothers Appliance currently operate the business and continue to focus on customer and community. Bill serves on the local school board and Sharon organizes a yearly Relay For Life team and Golf Outing to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since 2007, $57,000 has been raised. In an effort to expand their charitable efforts and raise more awareness, Snow reached out to other local family businesses. They got together with the lighting business next door and carpet business down the street to form the Mayfield Family Business Foundation. The hope being that pooling resources would allow for a greater impact than any one of the individual businesses would be able to accomplish on their own. So far, that seems to be the case as the foundation's inaugural event "Party with a Purpose" was held this past September in the parking lots and showrooms of Snow Brothers and their next door neighbor, Cleveland Lighting. Nearly two hundred guests purchased tickets and enjoyed food and drink prepared by local celebrity chefs, a silent auction and entertainment throughout the night. Thanks to sponsorships and donations by vendors, almost $18,000 was raised that evening. Equally important to the family is taking an active, contributory role within the community. Irving was an early member of the East Cleveland Rotary Club and was followed by his son-in-law, Bob Kent, who also supported numerous sports teams, charitable organizations, schools and clubs from the 1960's-1990's. The "Golden Rule" of treating customers as they would like to be treated is the foundation upon which the company continues to build upon. Growing sales has caused the company to move to several larger locations over the years to it's current location of 15 years on Mayfield Rd. in Lyndhurst. The roughly 30,000 square feet showroom features a live kitchen with 25 fully functional appliances where monthly cooking classes and kitchen design classes are held and an inspirational "Gallery of Appliances" with five kitchens and a laundry room all featuring different types of cabinets and countertops so customers can envision how different products will look in their home. Snow Brothers Appliance now has 16 knowledgeable staff that truly listen to customers' lifestyle needs and try to make them feel as though they are viewing appliances in a friend's kitchen rather than shopping at a retail store. After 91 years it's anybody's guess what tomorrow's technology may bring but it's fairly certain that Snow Brothers Appliance will be ready and waiting to embrace it. They'll also be spreading the word and raising awareness along the way in hopes of a better tomorrow for us all. S N O W B R O T H E R S A P P L I A N C E C E L E B R A T E S 9 1 Y E A R S RO

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