After 73 years in business spanning three generations, Orsini’s, among appliance retailers, has quite the rich history behind it, and one that continues today through the founders’ grandson, PJ Orsini. Orsini says his grandparents opened up the appliance shop in 1948 in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Orsini’s quickly became a staple of the Eastern Panhandle. His father and uncle took over the family business in the ’90s, heading up appliance sales, appliance services, and appliance installation until they decided it was time to retire and usher in the next generation.
When it was PJ’s turn to take charge of the decades-old appliance retailer in 2016, one of his first orders of business was to move Orsini’s to a location that better fit current needs. The original location was just 2,400 square feet, and despite any nostalgia tied to Orsini’s first home, the business was quickly outgrowing its confines.
In 2019, Orsini’s relocated to an 18,000-square-foot location with an 8,200-square-foot showroom where it operates today. The once exclusive appliance retailer also experienced changes to its inventory along with the move. In addition to appliances, consumers will now find cabinetry, bedding, flooring, outdoor living solutions, smart home products, and more at Orsini’s.
Digitally, the company has seen some significant changes as well.
“Retail is so much different than it ever was, and the pandemic really forced our hand to do things that we had put on the back burner,” Orsini admits. “When lockdown was at its peak and people weren’t leaving their homes, our website became our storefront, and we had to change our focus in order to meet our customers where they were at.”
One of the enhancements to the website that has been highly impactful for Orsini’s is the live chat feature that can connect customers with questions to a store associate who can answer them the same way they would inside the store. The conversation can even transition to a phone call, video chat, or text message if needed.
As customers have been coming back into the store, with easing COVID restrictions, Orsini is working to keep that experience fresh as well.
“What we don’t want is for people to come into the store, look around and think ‘wow, nothing has changed since the last time I was here,’” he says.
One of the ways he plans to bring more of an experiential aspect to Orsini’s is by offering cooking classes on site. He purchased the building next door to the showroom and is in the process of remodeling it to become a barbecue demo space. He has a vision of hosting chefs at the location for private classes and cooking demos both as a way to bring the community together and to get them interested in the vast lineup of products and brands available at Orsini’s. Just some of those brand names include Whirlpool, KitchenAid, JennAir, Maytag, Traeger, Yeti, Nest, Ring, and more.
It’s also important that those products are listed at competitive prices. Orsini’s latest initiative in creating that consumer confidence came with the rollout of digital price tags.
Store visitors can now scan a digital price tag on a product they are interested in to compare it to big-box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s to see if the price matches up. Most of the time it will, but if it doesn’t, Orsini’s will match it.
Beginning in just a few months, customers can even choose to finance their purchases with Orsini’s, an initiative aided in large part by the help of Nationwide Marketing Group.
“We’re excited to launch financing options in Q4 of this year, thanks to the help of Nationwide. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do that,” says Orsini.
He says he regularly attends Nationwide PrimeTime, both in its virtual and in-person format, and has implemented some of the strategies and benefits they offer into his store operations.
As for what’s next at Orsini’s, he says the company is looking to open a small distribution center to meet the high demand for its products and to create a better experience for both the team and its customers. Orsini’s is a great example of how today’s independent appliance retailers are evolving with the accelerated changes in shopping trends brought on by the pandemic. It’s why Dealerscope chose it to be among winners of the 2021 Retail Excellence Awards.
Jessica is the Chief Digital Editor for CT Lab Global Media, the North American platform for IFA Berlin.