From Auto Parts to 80″ Screens
When John Wall’s lease was about to expire on a small, out-of-the-way South Industrial location, he decided The TV Warehouse was ready for bigger and more visible digs. He subleased the former Advance Auto Parts storeroom on Packard then set to work on renovations. A new ceiling, linoleum floor, and partitions were finished and walls were still wet with paint on August 15, three days before the store’s official opening. As employees hurried to build and arrange shelves, a former customer walked through the open door and walked out with a television set. “We’re taking that as a good sign,” says store manager Adam Muszkiewicz, grinning.
The TV Warehouse has just celebrated its first decade. Two locations (the other is in Westland) sell previously returned televisions to customers who come from as far away as Toledo, Lansing, and Saginaw.
“My business is the result of a complete lack of planning. I was in the right place at the right time for an opportunity,” Wall says. An EMU business management major on a tight budget, he was in the market for a television in 2006 when he learned about a company auctioning Best Buy returns in Ohio. “I had a pickup, and I figured I could buy the lot, choose one, and sell the others.”
He kept one, and the others sold so fast that he returned for another shipment, then another. Meanwhile, he began scanning eBay for other TV bargains. For five years, he sold televisions from his basement until he built up his inventory. By the time he opened the Westland location, his sources were diversified: manufacturers as well as Best Buy, Walmart, and other retailers.
His shipments come from as far away as Arizona and Colorado and the far corners of the states east of the Mississippi. “Our Ohio source went out of business. We have plans to expand eventually, and we’ll probably open our next store in Toledo–many of our customers come from there.”
Most of his inventory has been returned to retailers because buyers either found they couldn’t afford them or wanted a bigger size or a different model. “There may be a small dent on some, but usually they’re just like new,” he says. “Generally, the TVs start at thirty-two inches and $200.” The biggest are eighty inches–“though I can’t guarantee we always have that size available.”
His employees (ten, between the two locations) test every television and keep notes on its history, which they make available to customers. At the new store, 100 televisions are strategically placed to entice and greet customers, and shelving in the back of the store will offer more. And against one wall, brand-new refrigerators stand in line–“Whirlpool–they’re fantastic machines, and they manufacture for many other labels,” explains Muszkiewicz, the resident expert on appliances. “These are last year’s models.” Wall plans to add stoves, washers, and dryers to his inventory “as soon as we find reliable sources.” When that happens, he will expand his retail floor space into the yawning, and almost empty, warehouse in the back of the store.
The TV Warehouse, 3170 Packard, 506-8255. Mon.-Fri. noon-7 p.m., Sat. noon-5 p.m. Closed Sun. shoptvw.com
In the November, 2016 issue of Ann Arbor Observer