I miss Tom Peterson’s. Appliance shopping rant.

Long-term Portland residents know what I’m talking about when I say that I miss shopping at Tom Peterson’s.  For those of you who don’t know about Tom Peterson’s, well, here’s the link that tells you about Tom and his role in Portlandia culture.

Not that “hipster icon” is necessarily why I liked shopping there for appliances.  What I did like was that I could go to Tom Peterson’s looking for a moderately priced utilitarian appliance that worked.  No fancy bells and whistles, pretty much plain colors, no designer icons.  Just reasonably-priced, solid, functional appliances without trends or fads.

I can’t find that now, or, rather, I’ve yet to find a reliable replacement.  Many of the stores I’ve gone to have high-end or low-end, without the functionality of my older appliances.  I’m paying more for less functional appliances and the high-end appliances I’ve seen at these stores, while having more cosmetic and flashy bells and whistles, lack some of the useful pragmatic parts of the mid-range Tom Peterson’s line I used to like.

It’s annoying.

And dear lord in heaven, do I ever sound like an old phart.  I know stores like this exist.  I ran into this phenomenon when shopping for a new mattress.  I just haven’t found the right one for appliances yet.

In a word, it’s annoying.  And time-consuming.

I will say this, though–if I’m shopping on the Web, damn it, I want webpages that have a certain degree of search functionality which a.) displays features, b.) allows me to sort by specific categories, c.) displays prices, and d.) is reasonably intuitive and easy to use.

Two local chains failed miserably on that score.  One got ruled right out because they were clearly in the same high-end/bottom-end dichotomy, as far as I could figure out from their website’s descriptions–but that wasn’t the killer.  Killer?  No firm price listing.

The other was bloody impossible to use.  I’ve bought from them before and know they tend to the high end with absolute crap toward the bottom, but sometimes you can find a deal.  But I gave up on them because their webpage was impossible.

The web winner?  Best Buy, which allowed me to sort, get an idea of prices, select by features, and get a pricing idea.  I’m probably looking at reconditioned stoves at a local business first, but at least now I know what a reasonable price range is.

I’d much rather support a local retailer, but damn.  That doesn’t mean I want to pay boutique prices.

Where, oh where, are the Tom Peterson’s of yesteryear?  The retailers focusing on the solid middle group of people who don’t want flash, they want something that works without paying a fortune for fancy designer labels.  Or has that gone out of style?

Damn, I think I’m turning into an old phart.

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