Golden era of TV sales nearing end
Dick Golden was always up for a challenge when it came to repairing and servicing televisions for his customers. But there was one trip to a Dunkirk home he remembers that just about drove him bananas.
“I walk in and I see a monkey sitting in his diaper,” Golden recalled, noting the primate was not into minding his own business as he began work on fixing the console television. “He then grabs my hat, goes up this rope and starts making these weird noises.”
The monkey was not done. “He comes back down and grabs one of my tools. He goes back up the rope. Finally, I go to (owner) and said, ‘Hey, that monkey’s gotta go.”
Golden had a barrel of other memories from making house calls that were once a staple of television shops from yesteryear. Today’s high-tech version is much less personable as purchases are more about price than service and made online or at the big-box stores.It’s a bygone era that has changed the dynamics for many merchants. Golden is one of them.
On Sept. 6, a Dick Golden TV advertisement announced it was having a Retirement Sale with prices slashed to move the remaining inventory. Since then, a funny thing happened. It has been a reunion of sorts with many longtime customers — and business is booming.
Within a week, just about everything in the store at 1190 Central Ave. in Dunkirk had been sold. The problem with that? More customers keep coming in.
True to his roots to the business, Golden did not want to let them down — and ordered more televisions. “It has been overwhelming the response we’ve had as far as good wishes from people,” said Golden’s son, Bob. “These are people who have come three and four times who have bought TVs for many, many years.”
Some of those visitors have been customers for the 53 years Golden has been in business. Golden got his start in Fredonia and enjoyed repairing electronics when he was 11. Back then, it was mostly radios.
By the time he had returned from serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, it became televisions. Golden started part-time with Jack O’Connell who had a furniture store on East Main Street in the village.
O’Connell’s location also was one of the largest RCA dealers in Western New York. “If it hadn’t been for Jack I don’t even know if I would have got started,” Dick Golden said, noting he was first hired to repair TVs.
When O’Connell went out of business, Golden’s retail line took off. He opened his first location in 1972 in Brocton after receiving the franchise for the RCA product. He later would open on West Main Street outside the village in Pomfret before moving to downtown Fredonia and settling on the Russo Building on Park Place. It was in 2009 when Dick Golden TV moved to its current location at Family Video.
Besides seeing the industry changes in brands and models that include color TVs to high-definition and smart televisions, Golden has also noticed a change in the customers. “The personal touch that we were so used to years back is gone,” Golden said. “People don’t care about the personal touch anymore. It’s the price of the goods.”
It is also about the convenience. Consumers are more comfortable going online where they can get products from A to Z instead of seeing their neighbor — a local merchant and taxpayer — down the street. “I would go out on service calls and I’d tell the customer I’d be there at 9 o’clock,” Golden said. “You don’t start working on the TV right away. You sit down and have coffee. … Society has changed dramatically.”
Golden’s farewell tour is expected to continue until the shop closes in early October. At that time, customers who need repair or service are being referred to Bob Bates TV in Fredonia at 673-1404 and Rafe Dickenson of Pro-Sat in Silver Creek at 467-1733.
During his time in business, Golden estimates he has served more than 10,000 households from as far north as Buffalo and throughout Chautauqua County. “(Retiring) was a very difficult decision,” he said. “I never had a day that I did not want to come to work.”
Interestingly, his retirement sale signs that appear in the store came from Crazy Charlie, who closed his television shop on Route 20 in Pomfret in the early 2000s. It is the second time they have been used.
Both Goldens are finding the present time bittersweet. They appreciated the relationships and the community’s support for more than half a century. But they are ready for a more relaxed and leisure lifestyle with family in retirement, which may come with a brand new habit for dad.
“I’m going to finally sit down and watch what I used to service and sell,” Golden said with a chuckle.
John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to email@example.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.