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@Work: Appliances Plus

Feb. 18, 2008 — Patrick Pearson saw a niche that needed filling when he opened Appliances Plus at the Lumberyard Shopping Center on St. John in 1999. And that wasn't the only island with a niche to scratch: In 2006, he expanded to the Time Center in Tutu, St. Thomas, with Expo by Appliances Plus.
"We can give more personalized service because we're the owners," Pearson said.
Indeed, it's a family affair with his St. Thomas-born wife, the former Marilyn Bryan, their daughter, Jenna, and Jenna's husband, Ian Alexander, attending to every detail.
The Los Angeles-born Pearson met his wife in California. They came to St. Thomas to get married, and Pearson said they moved permanently to St. Thomas a few months later.
That was in 1980, and after working for a couple of years at Thermal Engineering and then Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort, he became the contract repairman for the Electric Connection, a long-closed appliance store on St. Thomas.
Both of Pearson's stores sell Whirlpool, GE, Kitchen Aid and Genaire appliances. Pearson said he also handles the high-end GE Monogram series, which along with other upscale appliances, does well with vacation villa owners.
"We carry higher-end and higher-quality appliances than our competition," he said, leaning on a Whirlpool Cabrio washer.
Lifting the lid, he showed how the washer, which doesn't have an agitator, provides far more washing space than conventional washers.
Pearson said that he provides quick service so that vacation villa managers can keep their guests happy. And he said he has a loaner refrigerator and microwave on hand for emergency situations.
"The most important thing for a villa is the dishwasher. You don't take your wife on vacation and expect her to do dishes," he said.
He and Alexander receive additional training every two years, which he said gives them an edge when it comes to making appliance repairs — particularly important with the more expensive appliances.
Pearson and his wife are off Feb. 28 to Thailand and Indonesia on a 10-day trip including a cruise, courtesy of Whirlpoo,l because they increased their business by a "certain" percentage. All he would admit to is that the business is "number 21 in the southern region."
Pearson has some tips for folks shopping for appliances. For starters, he pointed out that refrigerators with the popular textured finish rust faster than ones with smooth finishes.
Stainless is the hot finish to get, but white is still popular. "Biscuit is out," he said of the pale beige color popular for many years.
While he said his stores do fine, he does face many challenges, like getting appliances to the Virgin Islands. Luckily, his wife runs the ordering part of the business and has learned the ropes over the years.
More difficult is finding good employees who will be loyal and stay around for a few years.
When he's not keeping up with the appliance business — he was on his way out the door to deliver a refrigerator — Pearson attends the weekly meetings of the Rotary Club of St. John.
"I find it very fun. It makes you feel like you're doing something for the community," he said.
And that's about it for his free time. He used to go fly fishing, but as the business has grown, that's become a thing of the past.
"I don't have time anymore," he said.
Call Appliances Plus at 693-9411 and Expo at Appliances Plus at 775-9411.
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