Trips Abroad: Morronne Electric in Westerly

Wed, 04/03/2013 - 2:26pm

Lew Gaffett was getting ready to buy some appliances and remembered someone suggesting he try Morrone Electric in Westerly because the prices were fair, the service good and the people very nice.

“That was 20 years ago,” says Lew, “Since then I’ve done a lot of business with them and that advice still holds true.”

Morrone Electric, Inc., an appliance store, was started by Pat Morrone 84 years ago. It’s still a family-owned and -operated business located down by the Pawtucket River on Main Street. You might drive by because the storefront is rather unimposing. Don’t be fooled, though; inside is an impressive array of rooms stocked with a full line of major appliances and amiable, efficient people ready to give you well-informed advice.

Moving about the bright white and stainless steel displays is Ken Kay, a garrulous salesman armed with thorough up-to-date technical information and comic one-liners reminiscent of Buddy Hackett. You’ll remember Hackett’s “Mom’s menu had two choices: take it or leave it.” Ken’s are better.

“He’s great,” says Lew Gaffett. “He always creates an upbeat, cheerful atmosphere. Oh, and he wants you to know he’s single.”

Unassuming and low-key, David Patten complements Ken’s outgoing personality. As the store’s managing director, Dave fosters an immediate sense of confidence in the efficient running of the store. A University of Rhode Island graduate with a master’s degree from Providence College, he’s optimistic about the recent uptick in the economy. “Sales are up, expenses are down,” he said. “I think we’re seeing an example of pent-up demand. People have been putting off buying, but now confidence in the economy is growing.”

Asked how a small business can compete on prices with the big-box stores, Dave explained that Morrone Electric is a member of a 300-member buying group. “We can definitely compete with the megastores and meet the needs of budget-conscious buyers,” he said. “Plus, we provide excellent service, something we’ve built our reputation on over the years.”

Ada Knowles has worked for Morrone Electric for 30 years and echoed Dave’s comment about good service. “The guys who handle our service are right next door and they used to work here, so it’s a good relationship. Our good name regarding service is often mentioned by the referrals we get from our repeat customers.” Ada also emphasized that many referrals come from local and regional contractors “who know they can count on us for price and service and that our sales staff knows what they’re talking about.”

So what companies do these knowledgeable salespeople like? Well, for one, Ken Kay leans toward General Electric products. “It depends, of course. You know, things like specific features and different warranties. But I like GE. They’re making very good products. Plus, I like the fact that they’ve given the economy a boost by building a factory in Kentucky.” Ken refers to a $250 million plant GE built last year outside of Louisville.

Dave Patten especially enjoys working with customers “who tell me they have always purchased their appliances from Morrone Electric, some over the course of decades.” No question, though, Dave would be pleased to meet new customers from Block Island. “We provide free delivery to the ferry. One of these days I might just hop on and head over.”

Morrone Electric, Inc. is located at 170 Main Street in Westerly. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m .to 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store is wheelchair accessible. Telephone (401) 596-2102 or visit