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Anchor Appliance Offers 2018 Tech, Friendly 1950s Service

Sep 12, 2018
The new owner of Anchor Appliance, Jeremiah Calm, with a combo refrigerator-wine rack he designed himself.

TO WORD

On July 30, 2016 it looked as if Eagleswood’s Anchor Appliance store was kaput. A three-alarm blaze, ruled accidental by the Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, torched the popular business. The fire was so intense that then-owner Adrian “Butch” Dieckman could see the smoke from near the Barnegat exit of the Garden State Parkway.

Dieckman had received a phone call alerting him to the fire. He was heading north on the GSP, so he exited and turned around.

“As I was going south, I saw the smoke,” he said a couple of days later. “When you hear ‘fire,’ you don’t know how bad it could be until you see smoke from 5 miles away.”

Dieckman didn’t quit. Within days, Anchor Appliance was back in business, being run out of a trailer and an RV parked on the property. Known for its fine service, it was making repair calls and also selling new merchandise despite having lost its showroom. Loyal customers were purchasing new major appliances sight unseen, relying on pictures and staff recommendations.

Since then, Anchor Appliance has not only remained in business, but gotten better. The shiny new showroom is a far cry from the old, rather crowded one. More upscale items can be found. (Don’t worry, more basic stoves and washers and dryers and refrigerators, etc. are still offered.) There’s still the quick and competent repair service Anchor was beloved for during its 50 years. You’ll still see familiar staff faces, either in the showroom, or knocking on your door responding to an appointment. Indeed, the friendly atmosphere remains, even if the showroom is spiffed up, so longtime customers will feel right at home. Everything feels so familiar that many customers may not know Anchor has had a new owner since July 2017.

Meet Jeremiah Calm, 41, who, despite his relatively young age, has been working in the appliance retail business for about 23 years. His last gig was as sales manager at Art Handler’s Appliance Center in Pleasantville, where he dreamed of owning his own store.

Dieckman didn’t throw in the towel when the fire hit, but it did take the wind out of his sails, if not his sales, enough so that he decided to sell. Calm was scouting out other possible New Jersey locations when he heard through mutual friends and sales reps that Dieckman was selling.

“All I can tell you,” said Calm, “that with God’s intervention it played out right. I want to say thank you to everybody in the community, a huge thank you!”

In other words, Anchor’s new owner is happy. Because he took a big step, not only buying Anchor, but also moving his wife and two children, ages 12 and 8, from Columbus, Burlington County, to West Creek. Plus he went all in on a privately owned appliance store in an age of big box giants.

“I’m not afraid of chains (stores) because I think people want service, a place that cares as much about what they want as they do. I want a 2018 format tech-wise, but a 1950s customer service model. I’m very passionate about it.”

That immediately became obvious during an interview. Calm has a hard time staying calm when showing off his wares and talking about how quickly he and his family settled into the community, a community he has come to love.

“The good news with a retail business is you meet a lot of people quick,” he said. “And I get to see my kids every day; they almost always come in here,” said the proud dad. Sure enough, his little girl ran into the store during the interview. “See!”

Business, too, he said, has been good

We joked that Anchor Appliance won’t become yet another urgent care medical office any time soon.

“We’re actually growing. We have more techs than ever in history, more product on the floor than ever. We’re changing and expanding our hours – we’ll be open until 8 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. I see nothing but upside. I think that’s all possible because of Butch and the community.”

When talking merchandise, this reporter focused on refrigerators. Why? Because of the hot and humid summer of 2018.

People blame high electric bills on air conditioning, and it is true that A/C, especially central, can spin the electric meter. But they may not realize the hardest working appliance in a house during steamy weather is the fridge. You can turn down your air conditioner, or even turn it off if it cools down a little at night. Refrigerators, though, have to run continuously, 24-7. They had to run like a marathoner this summer. I asked if Anchor Appliance had tackled a lot of refrigerator repairs in July and August, and sure enough, plenty of calls had come in.

As mentioned, Anchor offers many more high-end items than it used to, and its line of fridges is a perfect example. One had a glass window in the door that you could tap on to turn on the light and see what is inside without opening the door, an energy-efficient option for sure. Another had cameras inside so you can get on your smartphone while at the supermarket to see if you really do need milk or eggs. Calm said an especially popular item with shoppers is one he designed himself, a side-by-side refrigerator-wine rack. He also pointed out that many appliance shoppers these days prefer fridges that don’t look like appliances but rather like cabinets, of which many were on display.

Which is a perfect segue to the end of this story. Calm said now is the perfect time to visit Anchor to see its gleaming new showroom and merchandise and make kitchen remodeling plans for the future because, he said, come November he’s going to be running some very nice sales.

So, in a nutshell, Anchor Appliance is brighter and bigger than ever. But it is still the friendly, helpful store it used to be.

“I like to say that the only difference between me and Butch is that I’m 6-4, 250 pounds while he is 5-7 and maybe 150.”

— Rick Mellerup

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