In 1977 I had a dream of getting rich, selling new large and small appliances. I had a beautiful store but could hardly sell anything. I called myself Captain Bly's Appliances. By the middle of 1979 I changed my name to Ray's Coffee Shop and Appliances. My coffee shop was in the style of a 7‑11 and was a convenience store. I had a lot of shoplifting and found I couldn't make money. By 1981 I changed to Yard Sale and took in people's belongings on consignment at 10% commission. I found I also was still not making much money so I started going around buying entire households to resell. I repaired all the TVs and appliances into first class to sell them. I soon discontinued clothing and furniture and stuck to used TVs and appliances. I changed in 1982 to Ray's Used Appliances. I soon found that TVs were getting too expensive to repair and the technology was changing so quickly that people didn't want the older technology anymore. My washers, dryers and refrigerator's business boomed. I had 14 employees. I opened a store up in South Baltimore and was opening one in Annapolis and Frederick. I also ordered thousands of dollars in computer hardware and software to add that to my inventory. The first I opened up in Baltimore didn't sell one single appliance in 3 months. My Jessup store couldn't handle the volume needed to cover the bills. I was able to get out of the contracts in Annapolis and Frederick and Baltimore. I laid off a dozen people and let another company take over the Luskin's contract to buy out all of the scrape appliances they had removed from people's houses. I almost lost everything. I quickly gave away the computers, as Kmart and everybody else were cheaper than mine. By 1983 I only had one part‑time employee as my oldest daughter was now helping me in my store and kept up with the bills for my business venture. With constant competition moving into the area undercutting my prices and falsifying their lengthy guarantees to the public, I barely survived. I survived because of being ethical and moral towards my customers. 99% of my customers came back or referred me to their friends and neighbors. By 1985 if you read my book I was hit with a disaster. It lasted until almost 1988 where I was financially and emotionally bankrupt and having trouble maintaining day‑to‑day business. My other children were helping throughout this disaster and as a family were finally able to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We rocked and rolled until 1991. I had $15,000 cash in my safe and my eldest child was starting college which wiped me out. We moved to the basement and rented our main house to help her defray expenses at college. By 1996 my arthritis was causing me to be unable to walk up or down stairs so I was unable to do much of the work available. By 1998 I had a new competitor move into Laurel. False advertising is guaranteed in selling anything and everything to anywhere. He stole half my business. Now I have 5 competitors in the Beltsville to Elkridge corridor. I'm barely surviving and I'm relying on my repeat customers.
I only handle washers and dryers now and we take every one of them fully apart, completely clean and lubricate them, find the problems they were junked for, completely repair and/or replace parts needed, check all other parts for signs of wear and tear and replace if necessary. I spend twice as much time as my competitors in testing and checking every one of my appliances before they go out the door. I don't lie about my guarantees. If you pick it up in my store, you bring it back and I fix it while you wait. If you pay me for delivery I come to your home and fix it free of charge during my 30 to 150 day guarantee periods depending on selling price. My competitors advertise a full 6 months or one year guarantee depending on which one you're talking about but if you read the fine print everything has a charge after 30 days and an outrageous charge at that. How can they state they offer a full one‑year guarantee when it only covers mechanical parts not electrical parts, not labor nor service after 30 days? I refuse to play these games. Some of my other competitors mislead their customers saying scratch and dent sales. Most people don't realize that anything with a dent on it doesn't mean it’s new. It could be 30 years old. If it were truly a scratch and dent, it would still have full factory warranty on working condition. I have been known to many times tell customers 5 days after their guarantee ran out and their machine broke that there is no charge from me to fix it. I've also been known to many times a month or two after the warranty to only charge $5 to $10.00 for the part. I care about my customers having a good quality machine that will last them a long time. I also love to help people with free in‑shop estimates while they wait 6 days a week on their whirlpool, Kenmore, Roper, Kitchen aid, G.E. and Hotpoint washers and/or dryers. I love it when people call me up and tell me Sears told them it would be $300.00 to put a motor in their washer when I can do it in my shop for $50 or $60. Nine times out of ten in‑shop customers costs them less than $75.00 to completely repair their washer or dryer. I also carry an inventory of close to a million used parts for these brand names where simple things like knobs cost $1 to $5.00 instead of $15 to $50.00 new. Motors are as low as $15.00. I stand behind my appliances as well as my parts 100%.
Since my disability has grown so bad in the past two years, I can't deliver up or down stairs, I can't help you load, or fix your machine. You must now wait until my daughter is home in the evenings to look at your machine or help you pick it one up you bought. I am on disability now so I am taking it easy. I am tired of hurting myself. I am sorry, but if you know how much pain I have been in since 1979 you would of quit back then. Feb. 2003
As of Sept. 15, 2008 my daughter has quit a couple of years now helping me in my store, so me and my wife are now doing the in shop service and sales. We are down to one brand and one brand only, and that is Whirlpool top loaders. Whirlpool makes 12 brand names now which include Kenmore, Capri, Roper, Inglis, KitchenAid are some of them. This is the only brand I have parts for any longer and the only brands I will service. I still give free in-shop estimates while you wait, if I feel good enough that day. You can bring your machine in 9:00 through 12:00 Monday through Saturday. You must bring help to load your machine, as my arms and legs are very weak.
Over 50% of my machines are still $100 or less and I still will repair them up to one year for the cost of parts if it’s the machine or my fault in it not lasting, not if there are signs of abuse and overloading. I still will fix it free for the first 30 days or exchange it for another one of similar value if I do not have the parts available to fix it while you wait.
The only reason I am staying open both in my car repair and my appliance business is to spite this damned Howard County that has done everything under the sun, including outlawing my businesses, outlawing my home, trying to take away my licenses, to convicting me of a crime that they knew I was innocent of. Read my book at raybly.com. I am just doing both businesses as a hobby now, trying to sell out. You see, with my car repair, my appliance business and a three bath, 4500 square foot home, my property is worth 1.2 million. But under County laws where everything must be torn down and with their setback to build anything new, the property is worth zero, and if I can find a buyer for over $600,000, I will be forced to sue the County under grandfather laws to allow the new owner to keep the status quo. This is why I am staying open. As before, no delivery and no in home service. My health will not allow this. And fix the old machine, because the new ones will only last one to three years.
Due to my health, becoming more disabled by the day, and my wife's small cell lung cancer, I try to be open at least Saturdays, 9:00 to 2:00. There is absolutely no delivery or in-home service work, but I will try to fix your Whirlpool or Kenmore washer and dryer in my store on Saturdays. Please bring help to load and unload. My prices are still the cheapest in the country and I turn out only the best appliances still. During the week between chemo and radiation for my wife, and my own health, I try to open other days of the week also. Please forgive me for this inconvenience.