Thread Number: 81461  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
RIP Western Appliance
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Post# 1054964   12/20/2019 at 22:39 (279 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I just read on my Nextdoor board that the landmark Western Appliance store, which has been in business for the past several decades in the same spot, will be closing permanently in April of 2020.  Theirs is easily the most impressive neon signage in all of greater Silicon Valley. 


Here's hoping the sign is protected and will have to be repurposed in place.  It would look out of place in a park setting if the city opted to save it.  If rescue becomes necessary, maybe Google can be persuaded to incorporate it into their downtown mega-development that will begin construction in a few years.


Sorry, but the "add files" function wasn't returning all contents of my picture folders to choose from, so I had to copy and paste it.  I'll report this possible bug to Robert.


Post# 1055019 , Reply# 1   12/21/2019 at 10:26 (279 days old) by rapidry1000 (San Francisco)        

Sorry to hear about the closing of Western Appliance. My mother's Maytag dishwasher was purchased at that store in 2000.

Post# 1055056 , Reply# 2   12/21/2019 at 18:39 (278 days old) by bradfordwhite (space coast)        
Fabulous Sign

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I do hope they save it. 


It looks far too grand for an appliance store but hey....


If nothing else, the Las Vegas sign museum maybe the place for it.

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Post# 1055425 , Reply# 3   12/24/2019 at 20:30 (275 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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Ugh!  Just drove past that a couple weeks ago while picking up a vintage Magnavox console stereo in Santa Clara...admiring all of its mid-century glory!

Post# 1055506 , Reply# 4   12/25/2019 at 12:25 (275 days old) by philcobendixduo (San Jose)        
My last purchase there....

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.....was in May 2011 when I got the largest available Whirlpool top freezer refrigerator (no ice maker) in black.

My first purchase there was in 1972 (I think) when I got a Garrard SL95B turntable.

I will be sad to see it go.

Post# 1055515 , Reply# 5   12/25/2019 at 14:12 (274 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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...10 years I worked there, from age 13 to 23 when I graduated San Jose State. I worked for the previous owner's father Franz Niederaur. They were friends of my parents. I remember when that sign was put up. We were there when they switched it on for the first time. The flashing strobe lights at the top interfered with the nearby airport and had to be switched off...and that's a very true story. The sign was such a big thing that it made the front page of The San Jose Mercury News. So many memories, including working all night guarding all the appliances out on the sidewalk for their annual sale. Just another part of the San Jose I grew up in going away. Everything changes.


Unlike the old Orchard Supply Hardware sign that was down the street, the Western Appliance sign is huge and would require a very special space.

Post# 1055532 , Reply# 6   12/25/2019 at 17:03 (274 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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The highly upscale Santana Row shopping/living/dining/watching/overnighting complex that replaced the quaint dead zone that Town and Country Village had become also displaced the adjacent Courtesy Chevrolet dealership ("Where courtesy means a great deal" as the slogan went). 


Courtesy's huge dark blue bowtie sign with white neon lighting was repurposed as part of the project, but I don't know if it was because the sign was protected or if the developer opted to save it. 


In both incarnations, the neon lighting was sequenced.  For Courtesy, there were three steps:  1) COURTESY lit up with a quick sweep from left to right, 2) CHEVROLET did the same, 3) Bowtie outline.


For Santana Row, all letters light up sequentially.  I can't say whether the bad "SR" logo lights up separately or what.  I avoid that area like the plague these days.  I do know that this time of year, it lights up "SANTA" and pauses before spelling out the rest.


I could see both the Courtesy and Western Appliance signs lit up on dark stormy days from my desk in Room 16 (Spanish) upstairs at Lincoln High School.  That's before the strobes were removed from the WA sign.


Again, I'm having to copy and paste.  Only a fraction of the files display when I try to post using the "add files" process.  It must be this thread that has issues because it hasn't happened to me anywhere else on AW.



Post# 1055571 , Reply# 7   12/25/2019 at 23:06 (274 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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I definitely remember the Courtesy Chevrolet sign from when Stevens Creek Blvd was San Jose's auto row. I remember Town & Country Village shopping center too. A wonderful place to eat breakfast, Scotty's Coffee Shop and a great place for an elegant dinner, The Brave Bull Restaurant. There was a nice upscale market too. I've never seen Santana Row and don't really care to. I would imagine traffic in that area, with Valley Fair across the street, is pretty awful. And I'm sure the Bob's Big Boy nearby where us cool kids would hang out (those who had cars in high school) is long gone. Thanks for posting.

Post# 1055650 , Reply# 8   12/26/2019 at 17:58 (273 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
Bob's Big Boy

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Joe, the Bob's building was in business as the Flames Coffee Shop for many years.  It just bit the dust within the last year, as Santana Row (some call it Satan's Row) expands with an office complex on that parcel which includes the theater properties. 


The Century 21 domed theater has been saved, for what purpose is still being discussed.  The rest of the domes (22, 23, 24 nearby and Century 25 a few miles away) have all been razed.


Image result for century 21 theater san jose


Post# 1055729 , Reply# 9   12/27/2019 at 16:08 (272 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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Yeah, whatever happened to the San Jose Dionne Warwick references in “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?”  I remember living in San Francisco in the 1980s and my ex-in-laws used to refer to San Jose as “the country.”  Then in the late ‘80s, I believe the population surpassed that of San Francisco and we were all horrified that such a then-sleepy town could be bigger than SF!  The rest is history, as we have all seen/heard of the Silicon Valley boom and San Jose being one of the most expensive places to live in the U.S...

Post# 1055741 , Reply# 10   12/27/2019 at 18:08 (272 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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1,000,000 people can't be wrong . . . or so one would think. 


These days, people are fleeing the entire Bay Area in higher numbers than ever.  Traffic has never been worse, quality of life has taken a hit as a result, and people are tired of commuting for two or more hours each direction because the more affordable homes are located in outlying areas. 


SJ has become unaffordable for just about everyone other than people working in the tech sector.  Just like my parents, I couldn't afford to buy my home again today if I had no equity in an existing home.  The average price for a home in SJ is +/- $1M.  20% down on that = $200K.  Who has that kind of money laying around?  And then there's property tax assessed at 1.5% of the sale price.  An $800K mortgage with impound accounts for taxes and insurance?  I don't even want to think of a monthly expense on that scale.

Post# 1055752 , Reply# 11   12/27/2019 at 21:19 (272 days old) by Washerlover (Lake County, California: Wines With Altitude)        

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I lived in the Bay Area for 20 years and am grateful to have been a homeowner in San Francisco, Benicia, Pleasant Hill and Concord.  Of course, that was back in the ‘80s and ‘ was somewhat affordable then.  But the traffic, noise and too many people made me flee to rural Northern California, where I still happily reside in Lake County.  Only two hours to SF and Sacramento, so if I need an urban fix, it’s close enough (Santa Rosa and Napa only an hour away), but don’t have to live in it anymore...

Post# 1055834 , Reply# 12   12/28/2019 at 19:43 (271 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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My late partner and I had a vacation duplex in Clear Lake Oaks. I like it up there among the pear orchards ndd rolling hills even though our home was in San Francisco at the time. My brothers continue to live in San Jose although one has a mountain home in Oregon too. They say the traffic and congestion are terrible and getting worse each day. The thing that I think would bother me the most is that my old home town is now populated with young people. Old folks like me are looked on as outsiders who don't belong there, especially when out in public. And that Santana Row looks plastic and phony to me. Maybe  it's just all a part of growing old. I'll be 70 next Thursday and one of my dogs died today under my desk chair after spending over $8,000 is one week to save her. 

Post# 1055942 , Reply# 13   12/30/2019 at 02:49 (270 days old) by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

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I have seen Western Appliance ads in the local papers, but I don't think there are any stores here in the Oakland area, although Google seems to have some zombie hits for Hayward and Oakland. Perhaps they've shut down. I have bought appliances at Airport Appliance, which I think has stores down San Jose your way. My next major appliance purchase, if any, will probably be from Costco.

I very much miss OSH. Home Depot is a pale imitation. The ACE Hardware affiliated stores are mostly smaller and less well stocked. Oh well. Appliances Parts Distributors is where I go for parts, although lately I find ordering online works as well.

Post# 1055968 , Reply# 14   12/30/2019 at 12:24 (270 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        
False Alarm?

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Just today a post appeared in the ND discussion about Western closing.   Someone spoke with the owner and was informed that they're only closing their warehouse, which is about a mile away from the store, and are moving it to a building behind the store.


I'll keep checking on this and report here if there's any confirmation one way or the other.

Post# 1056091 , Reply# 15   12/31/2019 at 19:32 (268 days old) by twintubdexter (Palm Springs)        

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Interesting update. My older brother and I were talking yesterday about our Western Appliance days when we were kids. He started working there in the 5th grade. It was illegal (for him to be on the payroll) so the owner Franz Niederaur "paid" him mostly in merchandise. I was 13 when I started there and got a real SSI card and a real paycheck. I remember the turquoise Motorola transistor radio that was his first "paycheck". Way back then, you were automatically one of the "cool kids" if you had a "transistor". Now it's I-pads and I-phones. How things change...and kid maintenance gets much more pricey. 


Other than cleaning up used appliances like I did, one of the things he remembers is when Franz had all these old refrigerators hauled up to the roof and lined up at the front edge. My brother had to paint them all different colors with a brush. Larry (my brother) said it looked like a roof-top junk store but I'm sure it attracted attention. Oh, my brother's second "paycheck" was a really nice Motorola portable stereo. Even as a very little kid I was so jealous. 


Hard to imagine multi-colored refrigerators lined up at the top. This is fast becoming (if it hasn't already) a trendy area. It was known as "Burbank" when I was young. My dad was born there. That building behind Western used to be San Jose British Motors. Then it became a baby On the other side of that was The Pink Poodle, San Jose's premiere topless/bottomless club...ewwwww! An adult bookstore, Jack's Smoke Shop, used to be down the street from Western Appliance. You'd have to ask Ralph if it's still there wink

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Post# 1056102 , Reply# 16   12/31/2019 at 22:22 (268 days old) by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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Joe, I think The Pink Poodle will outlive all of us.  Hustler Hollywood opened a store in the old bank building across the street from it, glaring out pink lighting from the inside, so now it's a totally different twist on La Zona Rosa in that stretch.


The supposed new warehouse is behind the WA store, I guess across the parking-in-rear lot.  The old British Motors/Babyland building is back to being a showroom -- for BMW motorcycles.  I'm sure it's not long for this world.  The powers that be are hell bent on making what has been a potential Melrose Avenue retail scene for years into a boring, blocks-long string of mixed use projects without a particle of funk or charm.  What a mistake, but the leadership in this town for the past several decades has consistently lacked any sense for architecture or environmental design -- and it shows.  It's why most people (except those in the tech sector) don't even know where this city of 1,000,000 is in relation to SF or LA, and why this town will never have a soul.

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