General Appliance closes its doors after 72 years

General Appliance on Shattuck near Blake has shut its doors

General Appliance, which has been selling appliances in Berkeley under numerous names since 1939, abruptly shut its doors on Monday.

The store, located on Shattuck between Dwight and Ward, is still stocked with refrigerators, cabinets and other kitchen goods, but has a sign on the door announcing the closure.

Sign on front door of General Appliance

Efforts to reach Don Collins, the store’s owner, to discover why he shut the business, were not successful. There was no message about the closure on the store’s answering machine or on its website.

But appliance stores have been facing increasing competition in recent years from the Internet and big box merchandisers like Home Depot.

For years, the Wick family ran Wick’s, an appliance store, from that property at 2534 Shattuck Avenue. The family sold the business and it reopened as General Appliance in 2005, according to records at the Secretary of State’s office. The owners then sold the business to Collins.

The closure leaves a void on a street a few blocks from the downtown section of Shattuck Avenue.

“We are very sad to see them go,” said Allison Etchison who co-owns with Hadley Salz Home 101, an urban general store on the same block. “I assume there is going to be another appliance store coming in.”

While there may now be less foot traffic on the street, Etchison said her store has more in common with Stone Mountain and Daughter Fine Fabrics than General Appliance. Their mutual clientele are mostly women crafters and people who like to decorate their homes.

“If the fabric store would to close we would be seriously affected,” she said.

Home 101 also remodels and stages houses that are coming up for sale. It recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

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  • South Berkeley

    I’m always sorry to see businesses close, especially local businesses, but I have to say my limited experience with General Appliances did not make me eager to patronize them. I went in some years back to see about buying a new washer and dryer. The store was empty, and the one staff person there did not even bother to get up from behind his desk. He leaned back in his chair, looked me over, and gave a few condescending and dismissive replies to my inquiries. I left and never went back.

  • Joe Blow

    word on the street is they owed a colossal sum to the BOE (our sales tax buddies up in Sac), to the extent of having to go out of business….

  • Guest

    I got great appliances and great service from the staff at General Appliance. I’m very sorry to see this business close.

  • http://berkeleyside.com Frances Dinkelspiel

    Joe Blow, I called the Board of Equalization to see if back taxes played a role in the store’s closure, but the department only publicly releases the name of the state’s top 250 businesses in arrears. Otherwise, the information is confidential. 

  • annie painter

    I’ve comparison-shopped appliances at GA and elsewhere over the years, and have purchased from another small, independently-owned appliance store where I was made to feel much more welcome than at General Appliance. In a competitive economy, one cannot be too careful with the customer service.

  • Thomas

    I am not sad to see it go.  My wife and I went in there to look at some appliances for a kitchen reno and they ignored us for the whole 15 minutes we were there.  There were two employees, one of which was not helping anyone else (there was one other customer) or on the phone.  I dunno if it’s because we look relatively young or that we are Asian and Black.  We examined some ranges and after getting no attention, walked out.  I was doubly surprised no-one spoke to us when we walked out.  You’d think a business specializing in high end appliances would understand how hard it is to get someone into your store in the first place and that every person walking out is a potential lost sale.  Oh well.  We purchased a Jenn Air range, matching hood, fridge and dishwasher plus a new farm-front sink and faucet from other local sources that were more than happy to have us as customers.

  • annie painter

    So….if they aren’t doing business anymore, can I park in front of that curb cut? :)

  • http://berkeleydailyplanet.com Becky O’Malley

     They ran up a big advertising bill at the Planet and refused to pay it–but the Small Claims court supported a judgment and lien against their bank account.  A business Berkeley doesn’t need, and another reason I’m glad to be out of commercial publishing.   Antone’s in Oakland is an honest small appliance dealer if you’re looking for one. 

  • Akmonday

    our landlords bought three appliances from them last spring and two of them broke within five months and getting GA to help with service was a nightmare; they were completely disinterested and deferred everything to the manufacturer. fine, except there was an extended warranty purchased from GA; they really should have replaced or offered replacements. 

  • Mike Farrell

    Since we’re plugging our “out of Berkeley experience,” I have purchased several appliances with Galvin Appliances in Albany.

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    What’s up with the moderators here deleting more and more user comments without comment or notice?

    She made the comment that General Appliance is “a business Berkeley doesn’t need.”
    What site rule did I supposedly violate with my response asking Berkeley Millionaire Becky O’Malley what kind of businesses she thinks Berkeley “needs?”

  • Tom

    I was under the impression this was the same company (at one time, at least) as General Appliance in Burlingame; I’m sure I used to get mailers that showed both locations. A quick search shows the B’lgm store is closed and as of a year or so ago owed the state delinquent taxes of about $600,000:

    http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=126142

  • Bruce Love

    When do you start?

  • Szunderwood

    Face it, local heavyweights always get more pull and consideration than the average Joe

    Mr. Smith goes to Washington 1/12 (1939)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5iffM6hIEA

  • http://berkeleyside.com Tracey Taylor

    Actually, The Sharkey, to play nice with everyone. Please.

  • Richard

    On November 12, 2010, a State Tax Lien #2010-333644 was filed against General Appliance for $171,293.00 (per The San Francisco Business Journal).

  • http://twitter.com/berkeleybecca Rebecca Freed

    So is General Appliance the same company as the old Wick’s (which used to be in the same space)–or did it just buy their inventory? That beloved local business took over $600 of my cash just before it closed its doors and declared bankruptcy, back when I was a young and naive new homeowner.

  • Haselstein

    I don’t find that funny. Actually it’s disgusting. 

  • http://www.webhamster.com/ The Sharkey

    Clearly I just did, Thomas Lord. Thank you for your marvelously clever schoolyard taunting.

  • Agingingenue

    What?  No more thrust and parry from the Bad Boys of Berkeleyside?  Granted they should, uh, rein it in some, but I’ll miss the laughs.  And being nice will be very difficult for them.  Goodbye, Sharkey and Tom (alias Bruce)?  I hope not.

  • Berkeley5960

    Hmmm, now it seems that Airport Home Appliance has taken over that space. 

  • Davecinsl

    I’m also sorry to see that the former Wick’s Appliance has closed. The article states that the Wick family owned the business since 1934. The actual name of the owner was Mr. Wickliffe, Wick, as he was nicknamed sold the business to the Perelli family circa 1988 prior to the Loma Prieta earthquake and the Berkeley Oakland hills fire. Wick’s was upgraded during this time to sell more of the high end professional style brands. The business offered fire victims the best sales advice and selection in the area, with no high pressure sales.Fire victims also were sold all their replacement units at the stores cost plus 10%. John Wilkens from Custom Kitchens in Oakland built several cabinet displays with various import and domestic appliances displayed. Due to a combination of employee theft and alleged credit card manipulation the store was bankrupted with the business being taken over by General Appliance of Burlingame.  I worked for the Perelli family and for the Giotinis family who took over the business after Wick’s failed.  It was a great place to work for quite a while and truthfully we had many many more satisfied than unsatisfied customers while I was employed here. I have also had a working relation with Kate and Don as well as Kris from Airport Appliance who I understand is advertising the store as an ‘annex’.  Good luck to the VanEeghan Family and to future customers.    a former employee   Dave