A reason to buy local
It all started with a request from Roger Underwood and Barry Monaghan in 1992. Guthrie Center was losing its hardware store, so the two paid a visit to Bill and Ben Sloss, co-owners of Stuart Appliance.
“They said they would help facilitate us coming to Guthrie Center to keep the appliance and hardware store in town,” explained Ben Sloss. “Without their involvement, it probably would have never happened.”
Now, 26 years later, the Guthrie Center location is still going strong.
The family business began in 1977, when Bill Sloss and his stepfather Phil Homerin purchased Delaney’s Hardware and Appliance. The business had operated as a hardware store in Stuart since the early 1900s. One year later, Ben Sloss purchased Homerin’s interest and joined his brother Bill as a co-owner of Stuart Appliance.
Other longtime employees of the business include Tim Garwood, who has served as a top-notch appliance service technician since 1978, and Rosie Barrett, who joined the Stuart team in 1982. Barrett served the community as the manager of Guthrie Center Appliance and Hardware for over 25 years before retiring in 2017.
Following Barrett’s retirement, the Sloss family began a remodel to improve inventory variety and preserve the business for new management.
“We think (the appliance and hardware business) is a very vital part to all communities,” said Sloss. “We just want to do whatever we can to hopefully sustain it for the next generation.”
Over the winter, Guthrie Center Appliance and Hardware closed for approximately two months for the renovations. Now, the store features additional fixtures, new end caps and an increased hardware and appliance inventory.
Flooring in the west room was replaced, and concrete floors have been sanded down and polished. Departments that saw the biggest increases in inventory include hardware, plumbing and electric. The store also features a new builders’ section, which includes bolts, fasteners and other hardware.
“We’d like to see the business go on to the next generation. We’d be interested in basically hiring management, or we would definitely encourage future ownership so some young family can really serve the community and have a really good career for themselves,” Sloss explained. “It’s been really good for us, and we think there’s no reason it shouldn’t be for the next owners.”
Currently, employees between the two locations include Ben and Loretta Sloss, Bill and Sharon Sloss, Tim Garwood, Lonny Barker and Kyle Bates.
In addition to selling appliances, employees at Guthrie Center Appliance and Hardware also deliver and service the appliances they sell.
“We take a lot of pride in delivering and making sure everything is set up right on the delivery,” said Ben Sloss. “We make sure the customer understands their products.”
He argues that outstanding customer service is a huge advantage to buying appliances locally.
“The customer realizes that when they buy a product, they’re not done. They’ve got support after the sale,” said Sloss. “We’re just a phone call away from giving them assistance if they have any needs.”
Thanks to the remodel, Sloss says they are seeing more and more traffic in the store. Looking toward the future, the owners plan to continue renovations by remodeling more flooring, improving lighting and further increasing inventory. The hope is that Guthrie Center Appliance and Hardware will continue serving the area for generations to come.
“We’re excited about Guthrie Center and the pride that they have in the community,” said Sloss. “We like being a part of it.”