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By Jennifer Richardson
Last year we moved to a new town in central Illinois because my husband accepted a job with the school district there. We signed a lease on an apartment so that we could take our time looking for a house

One of the many details that needed to be attended to the decision about whether or not to move our older washer and dryer with us, or simply sell them and buy new machines for the new place. These decisions take their toll on me, as I tend to buy used appliances and keep them until their last gasp. After some discussion, the choice was made to sell the washer and (very old) dryer and begin forging a new relationship with a set of some of the modern world’s most fabulous inventions.

After arriving in our new hometown, we asked around about where to purchase. Having grown up in Tuscola, I had learned to buy local whenever I can. We were thrilled to find that our town had an appliance store. We googled enough information to get us to the doorstep and prepared to make what we consider to be a major purchase.

We were greeted warmly when we walked into the small, downtown, storefront showroom. Rows of refrigerators, washers, dryers, and dishwashers were lined up like trusted soldiers ushering us down the main aisle.

The owner, Todd, introduced himself and asked us what brought us to town. We had a wonderful conversation and were treated to some of the history of the appliance store. He spoke of his family and how many years he had worked in the store before making the decision to purchase the business from his former boss. His wife and son were in the store helping with us and other customers and they were just as friendly as Todd.

Back and forth discussion ensued. Todd took the time to answer all my questions about the various washers available, including providing his knowledgeable opinion about the pros and cons of each model. We made our purchase decision; I was thrilled to have a new feature: a see-through dryer door that allowed me to check on the clothes without opening the dryer. Marveling at all the highlights of our new items, we scheduled a time to have them delivered. We left the store feeling like we received great service.

Todd and another employee arrived at our place with the washer and dryer in a timely manner. He was careful to treat our belongings with care, even moving a table to ensure it was not damaged in the installation process. Once again, he calmly and generously answered questions and suggested things to be aware of as we learned how to operate our appliances. Staying long enough to be sure that each machine was in running shape, he did a brief test run.

Everything about his service was excellent. Robert and I agreed that we had made a great choice. Clearly Todd worked hard to provide a top-notch experience.

Fast forward one year. We had found a home we liked and were busily moving items into the house. We relocated the washer and dryer to our new place and hooked them up. I started one of the many loads of laundry that seem to pile up out of nowhere when you are transitioning from place to place.

All was well until the spin cycle. The washer sped up, then slowed down, then sped up again, while making a wild racket of thumping sounds and walking itself across the laundry room floor. I had a flash of AIA (appliance-induced-anxiety) and called the shop to schedule a service call. I received a phone call letting me know someone was on their way and soon Todd was knocking on my door.

Listening to my description of my crisis, he began to dismantle the washing machine to be sure all parts were accounted for and functioning properly. As he worked, he could see that the machines were not properly level and that the angle was making the washing machine drum spin incorrectly.

Explaining every step of the way, he put the machine back together, stabilized and leveled it and the dryer, and as a bonus, he took the dryer door off and reversed the orientation (for ease of use as the washer was now on the left when it had been on the right in our former place,) and cleaned up his work area.

When I asked Todd what I owed him…he said zero dollars.

There were some who chuckled at our willingness to seek out the hometown store for items that we needed. Yes, we could have shaved a few dollars off the price at a big box store, and we chose from the selection of machines that were in his store, but we received a great product, and the service Todd provided was priceless.

Big thanks to Todd and his family-owned business, Sheridan’s Appliance Center, in Hoopeston, Illinois. Thanks for the knowledge, patience, service, installation, and kindness. They are not just selling products; they are building relationships. You can bet if we need another washer or dryer in the future, we will walk right uptown and purchase from Todd. And we will tell everyone we can what a quality product and experience he provides.

Support your local small businesses, they are in the boat with you. Take the time to check what is available near you. Chances are, one of your neighbors has put their heart and soul into building a business that provides what you want and need.  Buy local. Worth every penny.

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