Thread Number: 79245  /  Tag: Vintage Automatic Washers
Vintage appliance business model
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Post# 1031728   5/3/2019 at 19:27 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        

Iíve been trying to figure out how I can monetize a business involving vintage appliances, or just appliances in general without actually selling 150+ a month to make a living. I have a few ideas and Iíd like some input:

1. Functional vintage appliance museum: fully set up vintage appliances that customers could use: like a laundromat, customer pays by weight. Also sell food. Possibly alcohol.

2. Modern appliances, try it before you buy it. Have all the latest models and let people use them and try them out before purchasing. Charge a flat fee of some sort, offer new for sale and discounted floor models.

Sell tee shirts, mugs, etc.

3. A mix of both, or something completely different. The idea is to sell an experience vs. a product, but I canít really think of something that could garner a bit of mainstream attention.

I keep the YouTube thing separate, as well as my parts department. As far as Iím concerned, they are different, independent business under one roof.

Post# 1031803 , Reply# 1   5/4/2019 at 17:06 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Since you're not getting any other feedback, I'll offer mine...

I think both ideas sound cool, especially if you paired it with like a vintage arcade or the like... but running these sites are going to be frustratingly problematic in practice.

If you run a vintage laundromat, you get to manage all of the "fun" problems such as:
* Machines of wildly different capacities, and the customer's expectations when the "small" machines in most modern laundromats are triple-load size and can accommodate bedding and bulky items
* Customers monopolizing banks of machines with small loads (per-machine coin-op nicely solves this, as it costs more to be a machine hog.. but charging a per-pound fee at the door does not)
* The per-model quirks of vintage machines. (Who is going to empty the lint filter on a Maytag Halo-of-Heat dryer? Or how many people are going to put detergent in the fabric softener cup on the washer, and complain when their clothes didn't wash properly?)
* Damaged clothing complaints as a result of overloading. (Some people may have never used a top-loader before, and if paying per-load, will cram clothes in until the lid barely shuts. Likewise, some vintage dryers become a hazard if packed solid...)

Price-wise, I think you would want (need) to charge a bit more than a typical laundromat, so that it becomes a "destination" (paired with your food/drink/entertainment option) instead of just a facility. I'm looking at the clientele of my local laundromats, and offering them the option of alcohol while they waited would probably not be the best idea. :D

The try-before-you-buy option sounds good too, but the problem is that if you price competitively, your machines would always be occupied by general laundromat users who have no intention to buy, and just wanted to use the "nice new machine" for their laundry. I'm sure you could figure out how to make it work, and buying customers would appreciate it, but the business method might take some thinking.

Not trying to be a Debbie Downer, just thinking of some of the pitfalls you might need to consider...

Post# 1031806 , Reply# 2   5/4/2019 at 17:33 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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Now, on the flip side, I *DO* think there is room to grow your parts business.

The answer is to add more vintage parts to your catalog, specifically the parts you think are low-value and that nobody wants.

Take some eBay search results for example.
Let's say we need some Maytag parts for the center-dial era(s).

* How many large-tub turquoise agitators? Zero.
* How many washer knob/dial/skirts are there? Two. (Yes, just 2, for all years / all models)
* How many pitman transmissions? Zero.
* How many control panels? One.

The same story applies for most any machine part you search for, other than the motors. People have these vintage machines, which were sold for *decades* in incredible numbers, and they are SOL if $10 worth of parts are NLA, because no appliance shop believes those small parts are salable or worth their time when they scrap old machines.

Please please please sell more of these parts. If the small inventory isn't worth your time, sell them as lots or grab bags. I'd love to have some failed timers to take apart. I'd also buy bags of nuts/bolts/screws to replace my rusted hardware. Same with wiring harnesses, knobs and handles, button assemblies, used door seals, used lint filters, used thermostats, etc, etc, etc. Just toss it together as a box of "A308 Washer Parts" or "DE608 Dryer Parts" if you have to... or "Defective Washer Parts for Rebuilding". There's a market for that stuff, as hardly anyone else is selling it.

Post# 1031807 , Reply# 3   5/4/2019 at 18:20 by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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I seriously doubt that people who use laundromats would pay a premium price to use a vintage machine. All they are looking for is clean clothes in the most efficient way.

Post# 1031809 , Reply# 4   5/4/2019 at 18:25 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        
Low efficiency

Thanks, Iím on the same page as you: also factored in the constant break down of vintage machines. The price to use would be several times more than a typical laundromat, again, trying to sell an experience vs a product (or service).

The parts business is on a constant upswing. When I part a machine out, I dismantle it properly. I just sold a complete wiring harness for an older Maytag last week. I have a nice dependable care spin basket, and a nice base. I typically toss cabinets, and other pieces that are either rusty or otherwise too rough to sell. I never thought about saving the hardware, I will do that moving forward.

My current business model is working fantastic, itís just physically taking its toll on my body, and my relying on other people (ie. Delivery people, salesman, ) is getting frustrating. Not to go off topic but I have never had to deal with such idiots in my entire life. My one delivery guy is so stupid itís like heís constantly sniffing glue or something. The worst part is they think they are smart. Fucking mouth breathers. / rant over/

I get people that occasionally come in to look at my vintage wares, I know they are not buying a 1940ís stove, but maybe I can sell them a tee shirt, or let them do a photo or something. Like a sub $50 something.

I love having my vintage furniture and appliances on display, the furniture will actually sell, the appliances not so much*. I just canít fill up my floor with display pieces, the greedy capitalist in me wont allow it.

Post# 1031851 , Reply# 5   5/5/2019 at 06:23 by DADoES (TX,†U.S. of A.)        

dadoes's profile picture

Not to go off topic but I have never had to deal with such idiots in my entire life.
You apparently haven't had much previous experience dealing with hired employees.† It's as they awaken every morning such that everything they did and were instructed yesterday never happened.

Post# 1031853 , Reply# 6   5/5/2019 at 07:36 by chetlaham (United States)        
Try and buy

chetlaham's profile picture
I like that idea. I really do.

Post# 1031860 , Reply# 7   5/5/2019 at 10:14 by Helicaldrive (St. Louis)        

Who wouldnít love to try a few loads in a washer and dryer before buying?

Fantastic idea.

Maytag Store was doing that for awhile before the downfall and WP buyout.

Only thing is that people would figure out which machine they like best and then buy it elsewhere at a lower price from someone not bearing the higher overhead costs of offering test drives.

Post# 1031883 , Reply# 8   5/5/2019 at 15:31 by Lorainfurniture (Cleveland )        


Iíve had employees for almost 19 years now. They have really fell off a cliff in the intellectual department in the last 5-7 years. Whatís really sad is I canít pay these morons what they are worth. Iím stuck paying them $12+\hr


This. I literally sell 7 or so new appliances and still I get people price comparing and will go to the big box to save $20. Itís really a great idea but I see way to many holes.

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