Traditional service competitive prices

By Posted on Mar 17 2019 | By

Tolson Appliance & Design Center launches new pricing strategy

The bane of small shop retailing is the competitive edge big box stores hold over the small guy. Absent the leverage the ginormous stores possess in purchasing power, it can be a struggle.

But that’s no longer the case with Warrenton’s Tolson Appliance & Design Center, Inc., located at 470 Broadview Avenue.  Its challenge to the “big boys” benefits both the long-time appliance retailer and, more importantly, their customers.

How did they pull it off?

By thinking outside the washing machine while staying focused on its, “small is beautiful” theme. “We recently joined a buying group out of New York so our pricing today is basically the same as the big box stores,” said Dennis Lexo, the newly hired sales manager for the store.

While Lexo is new to Tolson’s, he has 30 years in appliance sales tucked in his shirt pocket. “We are now one of 1,500 members in the buying group.” Challenging the behemoths with their own strategy bodes well for a store that has been serving Fauquier Country for 135 years.

And quite a history it is. The original store opened alongside the railroad tracks in Calverton in 1883 selling general merchandise. That was the same year that “Buffalo Bill” Cody launched his first Wild West Show in Omaha, Nebraska. In other words, a long time ago.

Even more impressive, the average life expectancy for a small retail shop is about eight years. Obviously, these folks know what they are doing.

The store’s owner, Church Matthews, has hired new management to execute his revised retail strategy while keeping valued long-time employees in place. His philosophy is what is right for the customer is right for the store.

Think of the tried and the true blending with the new to create another century of success. A staff of 10 employees works as a unit to make it all happen.

To underscore the philosophy another new hire Jennifer Drunagel, is now the store’s business manager. With experience running a family-owned business, she is a Vint Hill resident and mother of two who brings contagious enthusiasm to her job.

“My husband and his family were born and raised in Warrenton,” she said proudly, and she is dedicated to the long-term success of the business.

Drunagel says, “We have a beautifully updated showroom with new countertops and cabinetry,” that will trigger buying ideas for homeowners updating their kitchens.

In addition, Warren Cabinets Inc. is located nearby and stands ready to install any cabinetry and that may be purchased in conjunction with new appliances.

Showroom floor
So what sells in the world of household appliances today? The standard suspects dominate such as stoves, refrigerators, dishwashers, washers, dryers, microwave ovens and grills. The shift has been in colors and coatings not seen in the past.

Sales manager Lexo explains: “Stainless steel is still the number one choice for color. But it now comes in different coatings, including fingerprint resistant and smudge proof to aid in keeping them clean. Black stainless steel is also popular as is black matte.”

One interesting twist is the top-load clothes washer is making a comeback. The most popular manufacturer is American made Speed Queen.

“It is the most reliable washer in the industry. It will last 20 to 25 years. Most other washers have a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years,” said Lexo. “We see a lot of people who have been disappointed with their front-load machines.”

Speed Queen is only sold through independent dealers giving Tolson a big edge in meeting customers’ expectations for the much-desired product.

Lexo emphasizes that when you purchase a product from Tolson you also buy a support team to boot. “We have our delivery, installation, and service teams who are in place to assure proper installation and follow-up on any service-related issues.”

Financing and extended warranties are available on the store’s products.

Drunagel emphasizes, “What sets us apart is our knowledge of small appliances. We know exactly what we can do to meet a customer’s needs. We have customers repeatedly come back and buy from us, even for as long as 50 years.” That experience scores more than a wheelbarrow full Facebook Likes.

In addition to the depth of its product line, there is a fully stocked parts department at the back of the store.

One of the important goals for the “new Tolson’s” is to get its message out to a younger demographic.

“We are looking to pull the younger generation into the store,” said Drunagel. With the proliferation of today’s superstores, attracting a younger buying crowd becomes critical to tomorrow’s success.

The key to achieving that goal is quality backed by competitive prices. As the author Robert M. Pirsig once said, “Quality tends to fan out like waves.” And if it is emanating from Tolson Appliance & Design Center, then may the wave be with you.

For a full description of the store’s products accompanied by an impressive gallery of product photographs, visit their website at


Published in the March 6, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES