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Riegelmanns readies for expansion

Longtime Gresham store uses customer service to compete
by: John Klicker, Michael, Josh and Jim Riegelmann display architectural plans for the longtime business’ upcoming expansion. It will be the store’s first renovation since 1975, Jim Riegelmann said.

Jim Riegelmann wasn't too worried when Lowe's and other corporate names began opening stores in the Gresham area.

His family's Riegelmann's Appliance has built a 41-year reputation on gaining customers' trust by installing and servicing the products it sells, aspects that Riegelmann said national brands can't match.

'We've made a commitment to Gresham,' he said. 'There is a tremendous loyalty among our customers.'

That has translated into success: Riegelmann expects to receive a building permit next week for a 3,100-square-foot showroom expansion at the longtime store on East Powell Boulevard.

The addition will allow the 8,500-square-foot store to install four or five 'live' kitchens with cabinet displays and water, gas and electric hook-ups. Customers can test-drive high-end appliances before purchasing them in the expansion, which will have a Northwest lodge feel designed by Tim Brunner, a Gresham architect.

'It's going to be neat; we're excited,' said Riegelmann, who also has a store in Sandy.

The Gresham store, which was built in 1965 by his father, Neil, was last remodeled in 1975.

'We needed to update it,' he said. 'It will give customers more high-end options.'

The third-generation store - Jim Riegelmann's sons, Josh and Michael, are also involved in the business - will expand out toward Powell Boulevard and Hood Avenue. There will be a new entry built on the parking-lot side, and the store's service and parts section will be enlarged.

Another reason Riegelmann's Appliance, which also sells furniture and mattresses, has been able to withstand national competition is its membership in Brand Source. Riegelmann said it is one of the nation's largest and most prestigious buying groups. The relationship allows the store, which owns its own warehouse on Seventh Street and Hood Avenue, to 'buy just as good as (national competitors), if not better.'

'We hold our own,' he said.

Neil Riegelmann, who now lives in Palm Desert, Calif., still comes into the store occasionally, his son said.

Besides the planned new expansion, not too much has changed, especially customer service. In addition to servicing, delivering and installing the products it sells, store employees will also remove the old appliance.

'Customers know they can trust us,' Riegelmann said.