In 1946, in his basement on Marseilles Avenue in Elyria,
Dick Stewart started fixing appliances while he was still in school.
His business grew to what it is today
and his legacy lives on at Stewart’s Appliance on Cleveland St.
Stewart’s TV & Appliance is a local family owned TV and appliance store serving Elyria, all of Lorain County and surrounding counties since 1946.
Dick Stewart began his business, while still in high school, in his parents basement. People from the area would bring there radios to be repaired. Even though he started by only doing service, Dick began to sell radios and televisions which were new to the market at that time.
Dick purchased a used 1940 Ford panel truck for service and delivery. In those days most repairs were a matter of changing a tube.
Some challenges of being in business in Northern Ohio never change. As in this case the weather stopped everything. We still experience these events today but maybe not as often. Take note of the ladders on the truck, we are now installing TV antennas.
In 1950 the business outgrew the basement and moved to its present location at 468 Cleveland Street. At that time we were still only selling TVs and radios. This ad ran in the Elyria Chronicle Telegram.
The original building was 30’ x 30” block building and still stands today as a small part of the present complex. Like most business on Cleveland Street they usually next houses. Cleveland Street (Route 20 then) was a very busy road then as it was a main East/West road before we had the turnpike or any other interstates.
Selecting a new TV was easy back then. It was really a choice of cabinet style. All TVs were Black and White and we only had VHF so in the Cleveland area that meant you had three choices to watch. A test pattern on channel 3, 5 or 8 during most hours of the day. Most broadcasting was in the evening then what we call Prime Time today.
The local merchants would always have a home show at the old Roller Rink. We were always there and this was probably one of the more popular displays since not everyone had a television yet. Purchasing a TV then was more than a months salary. Something to remember when you go buy your next TV.
By the mid 1950’s we became a Frigidaire dealer and began selling appliances. We are one of the oldest Frigidaire dealers in the country today. Before appliance stores like us were around the only way you could by a refrigerator was through Ohio Edison.
Neon signs were very popular and Dick was always looking for better ways to get his name out there in front of the public.
More creative advertising. As you can see Hoover vacuums are now being sold. If you look in the window you can see signs of some of the popular TV brands back then like Admiral and Dumont
Sometime in the late 50’s the store front changed again. Notice how the buildings roof line steps down as you go back. Each step is one of many additions that occurred that first decade.
In 1962 the first major showroom expansion took place doubling the floor space as well as warehousing making room for the new color TVs.
Back in the 1960’s it was not uncommon to close for a day to prepare for a private sale. Invitations would go out to the existing customer base. Special pricing would be available for four short hours.
Drinks would be available and it became a social event.
Signs were always changing. The manufactures most likely paid for the signs back then.
In the early 1970’s the next addition was the second floor where a state of the art electronics servicing area was moved upstairs. Additional warehouse space and a freight elevator was added. Microwaves were just coming to market then adding a new category to sell.
In the later 1970’s three floors were added with warehouse in the lower and upper level and showroom at the middle level doubling our showroom space. New brands were taken on like Litton microwaves and Toshiba TVs, our first foreign branded television. Although Litton is just a memory we still carry Toshiba today. Audio was expanded to include car audio and a big category then was Bearcat Scanners.
The completed addition with a facelift to the existing building again
In 1995 it was Dick’s long time dream to expand the building to the corner. Over the years there was Wally’s Barber shop next to the store and two houses to the corner. As the properties became available they were purchased and held on to. Wally’s operated untiln he retired. It became a shop where rocks were sold for a short while and a Pirogue shop too. The corner house was the last one to go in the early ‘90s.
The door in the picture with Dick and his wife Jane is the entrance to the original shop in Dick’s parents basement. It is a symbol of where we’ve come from and is a reminder to all of us of what has been accomplished. Dick couldn’t have gone in to this business at a better time than he did. When World War II ended there was extreme growth in technology and the consumer need for all the new technologies. Stewart’s grew right along with it. It was and still is, a lot of hard work but the formula has not changed of just giving good service and treating people right.
Dick is no longer with us today but four of the children work in the business today. His legacy lives on in Elyria and he is sadly missed.
So when you drive down Cleveland Street be sure to stop in and see us at the big red and white building. If you are an existing customer we’d be glad to see you and if you’ve never been in Stewart’s, stop in and check us out. You won’t find a better selection in Lorain County and we are competitive with any big box store. There is no time better than now to start a new tradition with your family shopping at Stewart’s. We would like to get to know you.