Thursday, December 17, 2015

Choosing to Use Locally-owned Businesses: "Why I'm Standing in a Tribles Appliance Parts Store"

I'm standing at the counter of a the local appliance parts/repair piece/fix it place. I'd ordered the part a few days ago and just picked it up, which for us IS well out of our comfort zone but some reckless voice inside our collective heads apparently spoke and we listened. Following a sort of breakdown in communication with an appliance repair guy, and knowing this shop was here, we have courageously (or was it drunkenly), opted to try and replace part of the dryer on our own. 

Yes, I know. This absolutely falls into "outside the box" behavior for us, but multiple service calls for the same continually failing mechanism have been both costly and annoying, leading us to in a moment of foolishness, believe that we could indeed fix it ourselves. Ha ha. We laughed too the next day when we thought it over, but it was too late; the dryer had already been on life support and was fading rapidly and we had to DO SOMETHING. 

I approached the task with my usual "I-will-search-online-for-no-less-than-101-discussions-advice-and-articles-about-said-problem" while the other half calmly watched YouTube videos on his phone while stuck behind the dryer. As I waded through the morass of posts, which by the way ALL agree that this model is a #!%*/@ piece of something, he was becoming friends with someone in the Midwest who apparently either made these videos for work or was just really bored. And who gave really great advice on repairing your own dryer. 

The other half then proceeded to suggest a trip to Home Depot to locate the part...and silence fell over the house. I avoid HD like the plague, and have not been dragged into one in well over five years. Preferring like hell to spend locally and at independent businesses, and harboring a hatred of pressing buttons for service, I drew a line a long time ago. I think it was when the fake lady voice came over the loudspeakers for the 33rd time, saying again in her fake tone, how a customer "would like assistance at the key making machine". I never went back. So when the YouTube-watching spouse made that suggestion there was a resulting eye-roll, followed by the decision to hunt around for a normal, locally-owned place to sell us the #!%*/@ part. One preferably, without the fake lady voice babbling overhead.

Recalling that somewhere in the nearby town there once had been such a place, back to the internet I went. And that is where I met Tribles. They appeared at first glance to be independently-owned but then I was surprised to see a whole fleet of locations listed. Perhaps they were just part of a chain...maybe even a chain with the fake lady voice chanting about customers who need assistance. But lo and behold, it actually looked as if this company WAS family owned and operated, and thriving I guess, with their online map lighting up with locations from Maine to Kentucky

"Find your model" urged the website, which seemed to have millions of options and gadgets, all searchable by the necessary number. And this is a website that rocks by the way, because when you do find the model number of your less-than-perfect appliance which is currently causing you grief and enter it correctly, it presents you with all kinds of fascinating pictures and diagrams. This process allows you to pinpoint the exact stupid part which is broken/damaged/missing/beyond repair and proceed with ordering the correct one.

I found, I ordered, I picked it up. The staff was friendly and agreed with me that some appliances are just beyond help but we also agreed that replacing them constantly is costly. So, people like them see plenty of people like us for all of the exact same reasons; we didn't spring for the ultra-expensive set of gadgets and thus we repair. I went out on a limb - after all, they didn't know we were Two Stooges when it came to fixing something - and so I asked. "Is this something that we can most likely repair, based on having watched the YouTube video?" They smiled politely, hemmed and hawwed a bit, assured me that it was "very possible" and "shouldn't be too hard". 

I paid, I left, I returned home with the answer to our dilemma. The other half arrived ready to do battle and slithered behind the dryer - with his phone, just in case he needed a refresher course. I'm not proud of abandoning the ship but foreseeing the potential for drama, I bolted out the door and took the dogs for a very long walk. And when I came back there is was, in all it's basic white G&E glory....a functioning dryer. With a new gadgety knob/timer mechanism. We did it!
What is the moral of this story? Well, there are two: first it's important to realize that there ARE family owned businesses all around if we just LOOK for them and make the choice to go "outside the big box". I'm going to continue to fight like hell not to ever wind up in one of those again. Secondly, perhaps it's not a bad idea to pay more for your appliances because maybe they break less, but I can't confirm that since it hasn't happened yet. Point #1 though, I am sticking with; GO LOCAL. Find your neighborhood parts store and hardware shop and gadget fix-it places because they are most likely right there in your community. And none of them offer the canned fake lady voice repeating herself over the loudspeakers, because THAT is something we can ALL agree to live without. :)

Live Local USA ~ "The voice of independent businesses"

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