Big box store or small appliance store – Which is better?

The big box store is a wonderland.  I love me a good box store.  Just this last weekend, I was able to get some lumber for a project, have it cut to length, picked up some drain cleaner, and selected the perfect pot in the garden center! I was even able to check myself out when I left. For me, that was a great shopping experience. I was able to get what I needed, with minimal fuss, and get out with my sanity intact. My shopping trip required no research and I knew exactly what I needed.

When buying things like, oh, I don’t know, appliances, the experience is dramatically different.

We are going to cover the bug guys (Home Depot, Lowe’s and Best Buy), as well as the emerging appliance markets online like Amazon and other large appliance-only retailers (AJ Madison, Appliances Connection and ABT). We will also discuss when it is a good time to buy from a big box store, and when is a good time to buy from a local, family owned (that’s us!) business.

Let’s start with buying an appliance at a hardware big box store. We know that this means Lowe’s and Home Depot. We go to their respective webpages and we see, right when the page loads, that there is an appliance sale! Fantastic! Lets go shopping! I need a refrigerator, so I click “Shop Now”. Then I get to the next page, where it looks like I have to click “Shop Now” again on the next page, but no big deal. Then, I get to the appliances. I see a couple refrigerators at the top of the page, so I scroll down and see quite a few more, but they are all scattered amongst washers, dryers, ranges and dishwashers, so let’s narrow this down a bit. I do need this refrigerator pretty quickly since mine is about ready to issue its last gasp. This is when I get discouraged. I see a small number “3” next to “In Stock Now”, Oh, how I hope that there is at least one refrigerator on sale. I click. Huh — Well, these aren’t the appliances I am looking for! They are showing me 2 vacuums and a vacuum filter. Ok, well. That is not going to work. I go back and notice that there is a two day option. I click that hoping that there is a refrigerator available there. Hmmm. That was all vacuums, microwaves, small appliances and accessories.

I could go on longer about my experience, but I think you get the point. I was able to find what I needed, however as far as things to get right away? That just was not going to happen. They had nothing in stock, but they did have a few things in the store to show, but none of it was for sale. It ends up being a little disappointing as well when I find out that what I do want to purchase was going to arrive within a four to six week time period. When it does arrive, there is about a month long wait time to have the item delivered into my home.

Now, luckily I knew what I was looking for, I had done my research, measured my space and narrowed down my choice to a few refrigerators. What happens if you do not know what you are looking for and you just need something to fill your space? While there are Specialists in the appliance department at the big box stores there may also be Generalists (vagabonds moving from department to department in an effort to help) and may not have the information that you need.  Now, if it works out and you do get a Specialist in the appliance area, you may end up with a great experience, just only the outsourced delivery and installation being a pain point.

Now, let’s compare this to how your experience may differ when you go to a small, locally owned business, like Metropolitan Appliance. So, you first will probably Google “appliances in Seattle.” We will be listed there as well as a more well known local appliance retailer with many stores in the area. You notice something amazing though. The reviews for Metropolitan Appliance are stellar! An easy 0.6 stars ahead of our next competitor and we have more ratings. I do not want you to think we are bragging here (we might be a little) but we are very proud of the excellentreputation that we have earned from our previous and current customers through hard work and spectacular customer service. Now, equally impressed, you click on our website link.

Similar scenario, we are looking for a refrigerator in a specific size to fit my space. As you begin to scroll the page, you notice a tab that says “In-Stock Appliances”. Too good to be true, you think, as we were burned last time by looking for refrigerators at Lowe’s. Once on the page though, you notice over 200 items in stock. Good sign. Before you filter your results to bring up refrigerators, you notice that there was a banner at the top of the page that says you can get next day delivery on all in stock items. That can’t be right, you think, as the refrigerators from Home Depot were going to take a month to be delivered!

Let’s pause here and discuss the two differences so far in our shopping experience. First, is our website. W are able to deliver in stock items the next day! The reason for that is that we do not partner with a third party delivery service. Metropolitan Appliance uses our own teammates to deliver and install products, with all scheduling taking place in-house. So, if you are in an emergency situation, you are likely going to be able to have your new appliance, if it is in stock, the next day, or if you are placing your order after 1:00pm, the day after. There are some exceptions to this that I would like to point out. If you are outside our standard delivery area (think Everett to Tacoma and Seattle to North Bend) you may need to wait a little longer, but we can guarantee that it will be faster than any of our competitors.

So, you find your refrigerator on our site that you want to order. If it is in stock, you will see wording on the image of the item that states the item is in stock. This means that we can get it to you very fast. Now, if there is no in stock designation, your item will need to be ordered once you place the order and put at least a 25% deposit down on the item.

Now, ordering an item from us, versus a big box store, is going to be a different process. First is that we have one store and that means less people ordering items from the same brands, or even the same item from the same brands. So as long as it is in stock at the brands warehouse, we will be able to pick it up within a week and ideally, you would have this delivered and installed within 10-14 days. Possibly sooner, given the brand and when we will be at their warehouse. We also have built amazing relationships with all of our vendors over the 40 plus years that we have been in business, so with those connections we are able more detailed information on when the item will be in stock and more accurate information on delivery timelines.

Once your order is placed at a big box store, you are likely not going to hear from them again until the day of delivery. When an order is placed with us, you will hear from us within 24 hours to get information on where the item is going, to make sure all connections are available, and give you an update on when the item will be delivered to you. We will also walk you through the installation process, regarding measurement requirements in the space where your appliance is going, how to access your home, if there will be any interior or exterior stairs. All of these questions ensure that your delivery and installation goes smoothly the first time, every time. You will have a single point of contact to work with to ensure that all of the pre-install details are handled and to connect with after deliver should you need any post-delivery help.  With big box stores, we have heard so many stories of failed installations that would have been successful, if only there was a conversation before delivery. A lot of people do like the hands off approach that big box stores employ and appreciate having the entire process automated. We understand that and are working with our website partners to make that a reality for you as well.

During your delivery and installation, with a big box store, this will be very transactional. From personal experience I know that having items installed from a big box store is fine. It is just not remarkable. With Metropolitan Appliance, your delivery and installation team will be outstanding. Our team will ensure that whatever appliance they install will be perfect and in working order when they leave. They will be levelled, tested and they will also make sure you know how to use your new appliance. They will also walk you through any questions that you may have with your new item. Our teams pride themselves on their knowledge, courtesy and care.

When is comes to after your appliance as been delivered and installed, and then a problem occurs, Metropolitan Appliance and a big box store will differ quite a bit. With Metropolitan Appliance, if you have an issue with your appliance, say it stops working for some reason, has an error code, or if you have questions on its operation, we will work with you and the manufacturer to fix the problem and make it right. That includes us having our installation team returning to your home to see if it happens to be an installation issue or something that requires repair. If your item needs repair, our customer service representative at the store will act as a liaison between you and the manufacturer and servicer, to have your item fixed. If, fresh out of the box, your item has a damaged door or handle, we will let you keep and use your new appliance, and in the meantime, we will work with the manufacturer of your appliance to get a replacement part for your appliance.  We’ll send our team back out to your home and replace it.

The bog box stores answer to problems is twofold. First, if your product has cosmetic damage, their answer is to take your new item back to the store and order a new one. You will now be without that appliance while you wait for a new unit to come in. Given the current state of production in mid 2021, you could be waiting a long time. It is always much quicker to install a replacement part for your unit. Their second option is return. While they allow returns on most anything they well, that still leaves you without your new appliance. This is something that we like to avoid as it does not solve the problem of your appliance not working. It is always easier to replace a part or have the item repaired, than it would be to have you start the waiting process all over again.

So, yes, there are benefits to shopping at big box stores. We all do it. There are also benefits from shopping at a smaller local appliance store.  Your service is more personalized, and your delivery and installation is done by trained professionals that work directly with your Appliance Specialist. Its great to be able to call your Specialist with any questions on your purchase. We might be small, but we are mighty in many ways! Please visit us at, or text or call us anytime at 206-623-8811. We are always here for you to answer your questions.

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