Orsini’s Appliance Sales & Service in Martinsburg, W.V., has been family-owned and -operated for 71 years. The core of the Orsini’s business had always been appliances, selling only Whirlpool Corporation brands. But in the last few years, owner PJ Orsini had the foresight to try other new products and categories to make his business thrive, adding garage solutions, connected home products and outdoor living to the product mix.
As he puts it, “We were interested in finding a new piece of pie to eat.”
Adding to his need for category expansion was a thriving market where PJ felt he would need to get bigger and better or watch someone else steal his share. PJ kept his eye on a specific location for years until it finally became available at the right price. And once he got started, he personally drew up his plans and partnered with a local contractor and lots of vendor partners to make his dream a reality.
Until recently, Orsini’s consisted of a single 2,400-square-foot store. But on November 8, 2019, Orsini’s opened a new 9,200-square-foot operation that consists of 8,200 square feet of indoor product displays and 1,000 square feet of outside product displays in a separate building.
To simply call them showrooms or displays is doing them an injustice. Orsini’s is all about the experience, both inside and out: “Show me, don’t tell me.” It’s about new categories, new products and getting new consumers in the door.
Experience Starts on the Internet
PJ Orsini is a tech-savvy owner, as evidenced by his web presence and participation in Nationwide’s Linked Leaders. He has an RWS Level 4 website, regularly utilizes AdRocket campaigns and is very active on Facebook with average review ratings of 4.8.
But he’s not resting on his laurels. Coming in Q1 2020, Orsini’s will add product pricing, cart functionality, chat and a virtual store tour to their website.
Footsteps Lead to a Great First Impression
As the saying goes, you only have one chance to make a great first impression. And Orsini’s storefront is compelling. The façade is metal work at the top of the building, designed to grab your attention, along with four call-to-action signs with category representation.
The first-class experience continues from the moment you walk in the front door. A 4×4 video wall of 65” televisions on the back wall, visible from the front of the store, draws the consumer into an upbeat environment. MemberNet TV kiosks roll content continuously, and many of the products on display are live and can be demonstrated. Adding to the fun and comfortable setting are creative vinyl signs on the walls. Plans are in the works to add digital price tags early in 2020, reinforcing Orsini’s status as a progressive retailer that’s willing to make the in-store shopping experience consistent with their website.
The Inside Experience Center
Prominently positioned at the front right of the store, Orsini’s Traeger display is amazing. A full display of product is surrounded by a slat wall with brick finish and a custom-made Traeger mural. Adding to the ambiance are used Jim Beam barrels and a real Chevy truck bed, which are mounted to the wall with a custom frame and mural to merchandise portable outdoor products like the Traeger Ranger & Scout series. Grilling sauces, rubs, pellets and other consumables are against the wall near the front door, and disposable spoons are provided for customers to sample all of the sauces and rubs. PJ says these products have paid big dividends on getting new customers, impulse buyers and repeat purchasers.
Other recent additions include:
- Kitchen Designer: Annette McDonald is a 20-year veteran in kitchen and bath design. In her first four months, she’s already quoted $500,000 in kitchens.
- Cabinets and Displays: Wellborn (premium) and Wolf (builder/mass) cabinets can be found throughout the store. There are full Jenn-Air kitchens with their two finishes; two laundry rooms; three large islands with live product, including a Jenn-Air induction wok cooktop; and wall ovens and cooktop displays. Display retail value: $150,000.
- Countertops and Tile: Orsini’s has invested $50,000 in granite and Cambria quartz countertop displays, and worked with Dal-Tile to offer tile accents.
- Bedding: Nationwide’s bedding partners have done a great job blending PJ’s ideas with their content to create an inviting, educational and comfortable purchase experience. Orsini’s has 14 beds on display provided by Tempur-Pedic / Stearns & Foster / Sealy, as well as frames from Knickerbocker.
The Outside Experience Center
Originally planned as a pavilion with no walls, Orsini’s morphed this space into an enclosed showroom with roll-up doors where leading brands like Traeger Wood Fired Grills and YETI are featured. KitchenAid vent hoods add functionality above the demo areas.
The structure is built for demonstrating product live and doing cooking classes, due to PJ’s philosophy that: “If you use it, and if customers eat off of it, they will buy it.”
Video equipment is positioned above the outdoor demo and cooking area so that Orsini’s can post content to YouTube and stream live to their MemberNet TVs. “The best story always wins, and we want the best story and the best experience to come from our store,” PJ says.
Why Outdoor? And Why Traeger?
PJ recognized the opportunity to attract a completely different demographic. Consumers shopping for grills are looking for added-value sales floors where they can get educated and serviced differently than at Big Box. They tend to be younger and, in Traeger’s case, they are cult-like in their love for the brand. Traeger spends millions of dollars advertising their products, building consumer awareness and embracing the consumer through constant social and digital interaction on their website. Traeger’s sales representatives embody the same youthful spirit of the brand, bringing energy, market knowledge and fun to this category. It’s no wonder they’re No. 1 in the category.
PJ leverages the Traeger brand by co-branding everything he sells with the Orisni’s Appliance Sales & Service logo: stickers, silkscreen T-shirts, hats and more.
Orsini’s is experiencing gross margins in the low to mid-thirties. They get repeat shoppers that buy Traeger consumables like spices, rubs and accessories. In fact, the average Traeger customer buys 13 bags of pellets a year — and does so in-store as opposed to shopping online. Finally, they’re getting new customers in their store looking for appliances or other categories.
The entrepreneurial spirit is clearly alive and well with PJ Orsini and the whole Orsini’s team. They’ve combined decades of experience, 21st century merchandising and experiential retailing to create a winning combination for many years to come.
John Laing is the director of outdoor for Nationwide Marketing Group