Connecticut mom and pop home appliance store thrives

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — There were dozens of mom and pop appliance shops here when Allstar Home Appliance Center opened 35 years ago on Baldwin Street.

Today, Pam and John Ciccio own one of the last few local, independent, full-service home appliance stores in the area.

“It’s mainly the service,” John Ciccio said. “Doing the above-and-beyond thing, going out to homes to measure a whole kitchen at no charge. You just wouldn’t get that from a big box store.”

Allstar sells full line Whirlpool, Kitchen-Aid, Maytag and Amana refrigerators, stoves, washers dryers and other kitchen and home appliances from a 2,600-square-foot storefront at 1215 Thomaston Ave., where they’ve been located since 2007.

The seven-person business also services all brands of appliance machines, even ones they don’t sell.

They’ve recently expanded their offerings by adding scratch and dent Whirlpool appliances – brand new appliances marked down 30% to 50% because they have superficial damage.

“This dryer up front, brand new, is $649. But this scratch and dent, same dryer, same model, is $369 and you still get the manufacturer’s one-year warranty,” Pam Ciccio said. “On some of these, we can’t even find them,” she added, searching for an imperfection.

Over the past three decades appliances have transformed from simple tools to complex machines equipped with Wi-Fi that can be turned on from a smartphone. But the biggest change, said John Ciccio, is that appliances are built with an emphasis on efficiency, which has changed their performance.

“The machines are just operating completely different. It affects the operation, every time we sell a brand new dishwasher a day or two later a customer will call up and say they don’t come out dry like the old one used to. Well, they don’t dry like they used to because they’ve cut the wattage in half to the heaters,” he said.

Many of the employees at Allstar have been with the company for over 10 years, including 35-year-old Jeffrey Luciani, who started working for the Ciccios 14 years ago.

“They’re basically my second parents at this point,” Luciani said.

John Ciccio opened his first location on Baldwin Street in 1984, offering service for major appliances and selling them secondhand. The business moved to Lakewood Road in 1992 and to its current location in 2007 to be nearer the highways.

“We’re just going strong here. We don’t have time to even think most of the time,” Pam Ciccio said.

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