"The 24" ovens you ordered are too small," Jill said over the phone, "the installer says they need to be 27" wide."
Ironically, I'd denied the earlier shipment of a 30" double-oven the previous Saturday because that installer said "it was too large."
At which point, Sarah and I jumped on the phone and started looking for 27" stainless-steel double-ovens that would be "just right."
"Sorry, we're all sold out," we heard over and over again. "We can order you one but it won't arrive until late November."
Thanks, but that's not gonna work.
Given that the photography was already scheduled, and the house is open this Sunday, we needed a much faster solution . . . not to mention a whole lotta luck.
Several calls later, I got this response: "That's a tough ask," the man said, "only about a half-dozen companies even make that size anymore and most of them have stopped manufacturing it altogether. Those that do have HUGE supply-chain delays . . . sorry we can't help you. (I'm sorry too.)
Hmmm, so if we couldn't get a new oven, could we find one used?
Time for plan B . . . After phoning nearly a dozen second-hand appliance stores and on the brink of giving up, I finally reached Alex in San Leandro at "AHA Appliance" (yep, that's really the name) who actually answered the phone, and much to my relief, didn't dismiss my request, nor laugh it off. Instead, he said: "I just sold the last floor model ten minutes ago, BUT I might have another in the back. Can you wait a minute while I go see?" (Absolutely!)
(Pause for dramatic effect.)
"We got it," he said. "This one was rejected because one of the windows was broken. We replaced the glass and it's good as new; NEVER been used," he added for emphasis. (But wait, there's more . . . ) "Typically it retails for $4,000 but I can let you have it for $1,800 plus tax. "
"We'll take it!" I practically screamed. "How soon can I pick it up?"
With no time to waste, I hopped into my little red truck and headed to San Leandro before someone else snapped it up. It seemed to me that I'd secured the last 27" stainless-steel double-oven in Northern California.
When I arrived and pulled into the parking lot, the banner on the wall proudly proclaimed, "Dents and Returns - We Got 'Em."
And so they did - a veritable sea of washers, dryers, refrigerators, stoves, overhead fans, bathroom vanities, lighting, and believe it or not, faux-leather recliners. (If you need a ginormous sectional for your teen room, complete with drink holders, this is the place to go. I'm talking DIRT CHEAP.)
True to their advertisement, most of these items had a small nick, dent, or scratch somewhere on the body, OR they had been rejected upon delivery for some inconsequential reason such as a missing handle. A long line of pristine dishwashers had gone into "model homes" but as those units were sold, the owners had the opportunity to upgrade, and obviously, many of them did. Now the brand new 'never-been-used" dishwashers stood like obedient soldiers: ready at the waiting.
AHA, what a REVELATION!
Anyone who reads my blog knows that I'm a gal that likes a good deal, and these weren't just good deals, they were downright steals . . . .
"Companies won't usually take the product back once returned," Alex explained, "so they send the rejected appliances to us and that's what we do." (Who knew, and what else can I get second-hand or slightly used?) Honestly, the concept of a secondary market is a game changer to be sure, and between you and me, I'm surprised it's taken me this long to discover it.
Bonus points, Alex and his co-worker helped me load the 27" stainless steel double oven into my truck, covered it with cardboard, and tied down the appliance securely enough for me to get it back to Piedmont and into the hands of our trusty installers (I owe Juan and Miguel BIG TIME for circling back to complete the installation; they were gentlemen through and through.)
Thus ends the adventures of another near-crisis averted by our creative and fast-thinking team (and a truck). Heck, I'm so happy I might just do a little jig.
It bears noting that the motto"Dents and Returns - We Got 'Em" perfectly and succinctly encapsulates real estate as a profession, but on this day, we came out well ahead, perhaps slightly bruised, but much the wiser.
Another day, another challenge, another solution, another successful outcome!
How can we help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.