When it comes to purchasing appliances, you have two options: You can choose a big box retailer and receive big box service, or you can visit Anchor Appliance in West Creek for a personalized and educational shopping experience.
“The independent stores—the mom and pop businesses like us—we’re different because we care, and that’s all we do,” says Anchor Appliance owner Jeremiah Kalm, who prides his staff on customer service, above all. “It’s all in the details: The caring, respect and integrity, combined with the knowledge to walk you through all price points and needs, from basic packages on a tight budget to high-end pieces for a dream kitchen,” Kalm says. Anchor Appliance has been a family-owned hometown staple for 50 years, with Kalm at the helm for the last two, when he purchased the store in 2017.
Kalm walked us through the kitchen appliance shopping process, offering his recommendations for the four staples—refrigerators, cooking ranges, dishwashers and microwaves—at various lifestyle needs and price points, ranging from the luxe, long-lasting ultra-premium; to the reliable, feature-laden mass premium; to the “get-it-done” core; to the budget conscious economy price tags. Let’s break it down.
A refrigerator is the backbone of a kitchen: Before you cook on the range, reheat leftovers in the microwave, or run a load through the dishwasher, you need a reliable fridge to keep your food fresh. Factors to consider when selecting a refrigerator include straightforward aspects such as size, capacity and shelf configuration, as well as more advanced features, like humidity control, design aesthetics and tech customization. Home-automation enthusiasts will see the most tech options at the mass-premium price point, like a Wi-Fi-enabled smart fridge that keeps track of your grocery list.
When it comes to food preservation, sometimes it pays to invest more. “With ultra-premium refrigerators, you’re throwing away less food and not having to replace it as often. It’s like a 401K: You don’t see the money up front, but in the long run it pays off,” Kalm explains. Another perk of the ultra-premium range appliances? Their average life expectancy is about 20 or more years, versus the average span of eight to 10 years for appliances that cost less, according to Kalm. Design lovers will also be drawn to the customization options available for ultra-premium refrigerators, for that “now you see it, now you don’t,” magic effect of doors that blend in with surrounding cabinets.
When it comes to your cooking range, product education is key. In Kalm’s experience, gas ranges are the most popular option in the Jersey Shore region. When shopping for a gas range, you’ll often see two categories: pro gas ranges, suited for the chef who loves to experiment and entertain, and regular gas ranges, a perfect fit for preparing home-cooked meals regularly. Both offer fairly instant heat transfer using a flame, but the pro-ranges tend to be physically larger, and also boast a higher amount of British Thermal Units (BTU), or the amount of energy used to raise the temperature of one pound of water, one degree Fahrenheit. Kalm compares the BTU to a car’s horsepower: The higher the BTU, the quicker the range heats up. Overall, gas burners offer easy to regulate temperatures, since the visual cue offered by the flame serves as a guide to adjust the level of heat needed.
Following gas ranges in popularity are electric ranges, which heat up fast, but hold residual heat when the temperature is turned down. In terms of energy consumption, electric ranges are the second in efficiency after induction ranges, due to the proximity of the pan to the heating element. An added bonus, clean-up is a cinch with electric ranges, since there’s no grates to remove and scrub.
A third choice is an induction range, the most efficient but oft-overlooked option. Due to their use of magnets, induction ranges heat up more quickly than a pro-gas range, and offer the same ease of cleaning as electric ranges. However, you may need to invest in special magnetic pots and pans in order for the induction range to work. Kalm reminds his customers that upgrading a kitchen is an investment, and the potential downside to induction ranges is that the average consumer may be unfamiliar with them, decreasing resale value.
“Fifteen years ago, consumers were interested in one thing: quiet dishwashers. We still get that request, but today it’s all about capacity and efficiency. Most new dishwashers are quiet, and extended capacity and efficient drying are the new selling points,” Kalm explains.
In order to make their machines more appealing, dishwasher manufacturers are now adding third racks for cutlery, providing more space. But what really sets apart a dishwasher from the rest of the pack is the drying mechanism, Kalm says.
Older dishwashers typically include a fan and heating element, essentially “baking” dishes (which is the reason you were always warned not to put any plastic on the bottom rack). New, high-end dishwashers—primarily European brands—forgo the heated drying system, and instead boast an energy-efficient condensation drying mechanism. In some upscale models, the dishwasher door will even automatically pop open, allowing humidity to release and speed up the drying cycle.
And for those looking for a cutting-edge drying system for a dream kitchen, consider a dishwasher with zeolite technology. Zeolite is a naturally occurring mineral that absorbs moisture and emits heat, making dishwashers with this technology one of the most energy-efficient options on the market.
Your microwave will probably be one of the lower-priced items on your appliance shopping list, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a thoughtful decision in selecting one. “Most people don’t want to see their microwaves, but they still need them,” Kalm says. One solution is to install a microwave drawer, which neatly hides away the machinery. From a design standpoint, Kalm also recommends matching the brand of your microwave to your other appliances, for a cohesive feel in your kitchen.
Depending on your cooking needs, Kalm suggests exploring combination convection microwave ovens, allowing you more cooking options for days when you want to bake a pizza but don’t want to turn your oven on.
Service Above All
When planning to remodel a kitchen, your likes, needs and, of course, budget, are all deciding factors on the type of appliances you will choose. The expertise Kalm and his associates provide, from planning to installation to service, is second to none. “When you work with Anchor Appliance, we guarantee a knowledgeable sales team and an in-house service staff. The person you work with on Monday will be here on Thursday to help you,” Kalm says, “and you can call us directly if something requires a repair. We’re here to help.” At Anchor Appliance, high-end designs combined with down-to-earth service is always in stock.