New Kitchen Appliances
This weekend I had one of the most extraordinary shopping experiences of my life. Last year, my wife and I remodeled the bathrooms in our condo, replacing the Hollywood-style light fixtures and mirrors. Several months ago, we decided that our next big home improvement project would be to replace the cabinet doors in our kitchen.
We arranged an in-home consultation with a local "kitchen refacing" company to do this work, and we realized this would also be the ideal time to install an over-the-range microwave. This got us thinking that new cabinet doors and a new microwave would make our old appliances look pretty dingy. We still have the 10-year old base-model white GE appliances that the builder put in every unit in our complex, and the refrigerator in particular has been getting on my nerves lately. With one eye on our own happiness, and another eye on resale value, we decided to make the move to stainless appliances.
The biggest limitation on our shopping was the size of the refrigerator. This is only a 1200 sq.ft. condo, after all, and the space for the refrigerator is only 30" wide and 68" high. No side-by-sides or French Door for us, and even the bottom-mounts in that width would not work well in our space. So that narrowed it to stainless top-mount refrigerators in the 18-19 cu ft. range, with the hinge on the left (or reversible).
After loads of online research, particularly using the wealth of information and photos available on the AJ Madison website, we found the Frigidaire PHT189JKM. It has everything we could ask for in a traditional top-mount fridge that we don't have now: adjustable half-width shelves, adjustable door bins, a freaking deli drawer (don't ask me how we've lived without one of these for three years), and a left-hinge option:
Once we'd become excited about this refrigerator, it seemed a simple matter just to go out and get eyes on it, make sure it looked as good in person as it did online. Easier said than done. We went to Best Buy, Lowe's, Home Depot, HHGregg, all with no success. These stores seemed to recognize, reasonably enough, that those looking for fancy stainless appliances probably had room for a side-by-side or French Door model. The stainless top-mount selection was modest at best. They all said they could order the model we wanted, but we really hoped to see it in person first.
My wife mentioned that a friend of hers got a good deal on appliances at a discount Southern chain called Brandsmart USA, but I was skeptical. Just look at their print ad. Does this seem like the kind of place that is going to have a refrigerator that no other store carries? Their television ads are even worse. I figured it would just be a low-rent operation that made its money with high volume sales of closeout models. But frustrated with the other stores, I relented and we headed up I-85 to the Doraville location.
Almost impossible to miss from the highway because it is so big, this store is also nearly impossible to describe. It is as if you are actually inside that advertisement. Everything is crammed together, there are bright neon signs for everything, it is highly disorienting at best. Ramps take you one way, stairs take you another. Once the first wave of nausea passes, however, you notice something remarkable: this store has an incredible selection, and the prices are amazing.
We made our way up to the appliances, and as we stumbled amongst the hundreds of refrigerators that line the entire second floor, what did we find? The exact Frigidaire model we wanted; it was even the left-hinged version. It was beautiful. And so was the price, more than $200 less than what Lowe's or Best Buy wanted. We fought off a few hungry salesmen (the only downside to the experience, but what do you expect?), and looked to see if they had the Frigidaire range, microwave, and dishwasher that we wanted to complete the kitchen. They did:
Of course, not only did they have the GLEFZ384GC range, the PLMVZ169GC microwave, and the GLD2445RFC dishwasher, the prices were lower than anywhere else we had seen. As we were browsing the dishwashers, a soft-spoken salesman asked us if we had any questions. My wife asked about delivery and installation, and we were stunned to learn that it would only cost about $100 total for delivery and installation of all the appliances, and they could deliver as early as Tuesday (today!). This salesman noticed that we were looking at Frigidaire appliances, and he pulled out a rebate form that would entitle us to more than $100 in rebates based on the models we were looking at (I'm usually skeptical of mail-in rebates, but if I'm buying anyway, it's worth a stamp to try). We decided to pull the trigger, and as the salesman was ringing up the purchase, what did he do? He summarily dropped another $20 off the price of each item, for no reason that we have been able to figure out.
Now I'm happily waiting at home for the delivery and installation of our new appliances, just a couple of days later. When the cabinet refacing is done next month, and the new microwave installed, I'll post before and after pictures for everyone to see.
UPDATE: Delivered, installed, wonderful.