When it was time to re-name his store, Steve Pond decided the best formula was to keep it simple: Elmira Vacuum and Electric neatly captures where the store is and what it does.
As Spilek-Weiss Electric, the business has been a fixture in Elmira since it opened in 1983. After managing the retail side of the business for a decade, Pond bought it on Feb. 1. Vince Spilek and Dave Weiss have moved the electrical contracting side of the business to Howard Avenue.
The name change has already brought in new customers, Pond says; last week he had a call from a woman who had a broken vacuum stashed in the closet for three years, not realizing there was a place in town to have it repaired.
Pond learned his trade while working at Canadian Tire when it was still located in Elmira. When that store closed, he moved to the Canadian Tire store on Fairway Road in Kitchener. Managing the retail side of Spilek-Weiss offered the chance to work closer to home in Elmira.
Elmira Vacuum carries a full line of Eureka vacuums, from hand vacs to uprights, canisters and central vacuum systems. The big advantage to the Eureka line, Pond explained, is that it’s still possible to get parts in Canada. Manufacturers like Hoover and Dirt Devil have moved to the United States, but Eureka still has a location in Mississauga.
The vacuum side of the store has expanded in the decade that Pond has worked there. With tighter rules and stricter enforcement of electrical work, they see fewer do-it-yourselfers coming in for parts. However, the store still carries a selection of breakers, switch covers and PVC piping as well as lamp parts and lightbulbs.
In addition to the Eureka brand, Elmira Vacuum carries filters and bags for a number of other brands, and Pond does quotes and installations of central vacuum systems.
While it’s not viable to fix small appliances – you can buy a new toaster for less than it would cost to fix one – repairing a vacuum is still worth the customer’s while. Repairs and maintenance are done on-site, in the basement of the Church Street store, and every vacuum leaves the store ready to go, with no assembly required.
That service is what brings people into the downtown, explained Pond, a member of the Elmira BIA. His customers can buy products at box stores in the city, but when something doesn’t work, those same box stores can do little more than ship it off somewhere.
“The customers have the choice, but we get a lot of repeats with the service we offer.”