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Friday, May 1, 2015

Appliance-Arama is no more

Sign in Appliance-Arama window.

Plainfield's famed Appliance-Arama is no more.

Several small signs in the window caught my eye recently, but I had to park and walk up to the store to read them.

Appliance-Arama has closed for good.The sign says the owner has retired. Another Plainfield landmark passes.

I remember chatting with the owner several years ago, when the Landmark proposal to develop the old United National Bank parking lot with a large apartment building (whatever happened to that?) and he had come out to a public meeting.

Referred to by everyone as "Ted's" even though Ted was long gone, he regaled me with tales of the store's heyday in the postwar boom years.

From Morristown to Bordentown to Middletown, he said, "they all came to Ted's."

I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to start an appliance store in 1942, in the midst of WWII's rationing, when consumer goods of all kinds were almost unattainable. Nevertheless, the store hung in there.

And with the postwar boom and the suburbanization of New Jersey, Ted's helped outfit thousands of homes with fridges and freezers, washers and dryers, and the new-fangled dishwashing machines.

Though the store was not that large, it always prided itself on finding what the customer needed and providing the goods at reasonable prices. He told me that many shoppers understood the tradeoff in prices had to do with his lower store overhead.

And the fact that Ted's did not advertise.

The owner told me that the entire business had been built and run on word-of-mouth, an astounding proposition.

In any event, I do not recall ever seeing any ads for the store, so who I am I to doubt the man?

Even the big-box stores like Sears, Home Depot and P.C. Richards didn't seem to dent Ted's business.

But finally, time caught up with Appliance-Arama and the owner decided to retire. Could someone new have been able to carry on? Perhaps, perhaps not.

In any event, another piece of the Queen City's glory days passes into history.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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