BIG Ideas
With “untouchable” prices, best-in-class service and other value-added benefits, Wilmington’s BigCentric Appliances has changed how people shop for home appliances
by Bill Donahue

When it comes to shopping for major home appliances, Susan Morrow has traditionally stuck to the major holidays—Fourth of July, Memorial Day, the day after Thanksgiving—so she can take advantage of the industry’s most generous sales.

On July 4, 2015, she was wandering the aisles of a nearby big-box store, eyeing the components of a complete kitchen suite. The math suggested she would be getting a decent price on the suite, but something told her she might do even better elsewhere. When she subsequently paid a visit to BigCentric Appliances in Wilmington, Del., she discovered her instincts were correct.

“I decided to see how I could do at BigCentric, and it turns out I did pretty well,” says Morrow, a resident of Newark, Del. “I had almost purchased the same suite at [the big-box store]. At BigCentric, considering all the rebates and incentives, I bought the same exact kitchen suite for half the price.”

Morrow first discovered the benefits of shopping at BigCentric in 2014, when she bought appliances for her son’s new home. She returned shortly thereafter to do the same for her daughter. Finally, last year, she went to purchase appliances for her own home. She will likely be back again soon to purchase more appliances as she pursues an interest in “flipping” houses.

“Initially with BigCentric, I was thinking: Where’s the catch?” says Morrow, an audiologist by trade. “We’re taught early on in life that when something is too good to be true, it usually isn’t true. But I’ve found the people at BigCentric to be very honest, and that goes a long way for me. It allows me to trust them and return for future purposes, and I have been happy to do that.”

Morrow is among the many homeowners from Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland who have changed how they shop for home appliances. After all, BigCentric, which was founded in 2012 by the father-and-son team of Stephen and Jae Rhee has, in many ways, turned a largely static industry on its ear. One BIG advantage is that BigCentric operates from a single location in tax-free Delaware (unlike the big-box stores) and is not obligated to collect tax for other states, even if products are delivered. This can result in an immediate savings of 6 to 8 percent on top of any discounts or rebates, according to Jae, who earned a degree in operations research from New York’s Columbia University.

“My father and I have been working on this business plan since I was in college,” he says. “I studied how to manage inventory properly and applied that to the appliance industry, and we think it will help the consumer and the industry as a whole. We’re very careful about what we buy, when we buy and how we buy, and that helps us offer untouchable deals on most products.”

BigCentric’s pristine showroom-warehouse, about 30 minutes from the Philadelphia metropolitan area, offers a host of home appliances—refrigerators, washers, dryers, televisions, grills, air conditioners, wine coolers, etc.—from leading brands such as LG. BigCentric, which is the No. 1 dealer of LG products in Delaware, also represents many other notable brands, including Amana, Frigidaire, GE, Marvel, Maytag, Napoleon, Samsung, Speed Queen, Weber and Whirlpool. 

The store specializes in offering “kitchen packages,” essentially bundling all the appliances a homeowner might need for a kitchen remodel. BigCentric has created a website devoted solely to this side of the business, There, customers can purchase, say, a refrigerator, electric range, over-the-range microwave (OTR) and dishwasher as a package, often resulting in dramatic savings compared to buying just the refrigerator and range alone.

“The packages are where we can offer the biggest advantages to the customer in terms of the lowest prices,” Jae says. “We also follow up with every single person 25 days after their purchase to make sure they took advantage of any rebates so they don’t lose out on those savings, too.”

Stephen and their seasoned team of professionals are comfortable telling customers that “no one can touch our pricing.” Even so, they encourage customers to do their homework before they visit the store and afterward.

“Our store motto is ‘contact us and compare,’” says J.R. Russ, a marketing consultant with BigCentric. “Our overall philosophy is no high-pressure sales. The price you get is the best number we can sell it for—period—and we can usually tell the customer when the manufacturer will end that deal: no games; no bait and switch; no pressure. If you don’t buy now, there will probably be another, similar deal, next month.”

“We like to say that we are not trying to sell anything; we’re here to provide information so people can make an informed decision,” adds Stephen, who had a long and illustrious career as a manufacturer’s sales representative prior to founding BigCentric with his son. “I would say 50 percent of our customers come in and shop and the other 50 percent know exactly what they want, down to the model number. We encourage customers to go to other stores and talk about selection and prices. In fact, our best customers are the ones who do research on their own.”

Jessica Clifton is a good example. When she and her husband were remodeling the kitchen for their home in Glen Mills, they researched prices from “the usual suspects” of big-box stores: Best Buy, Sears, hhgregg, etc. They ultimately chose BigCentric because of its excellent service, free delivery and, of course, sizeable savings. They saved an estimated $5,000 on their kitchen suite, according to Jessica, including a new refrigerator, oven and dishwasher.

“We had a wonderful experience,” says Jessica, who works as a nursing coordinator for University of Pennsylvania Health System. “They are very honest, and I feel like they are always trying to find us the best deal. We had four people in our neighborhood who needed appliances, and we suggested they go to BigCentric. When we told them how much we saved, they thought maybe we just got lucky, but all four of them wound up going to BigCentric and buying their [appliances] there.”

Although the Cliftons completed their kitchen remodel last year, they have kept BigCentric’s business card handy. Follow-up purchases have included a dishwasher for Jessica’s mother and a wine cooler for her brother. They also have a beach house in Rehoboth, and their adult children will soon be needing appliances for houses of their own. In other words, they intend to go back again soon. 

BigCentric also offers free delivery for homeowners within the area, as well as free storage for up to 60 days in case a build or remodel project isn’t quite finished. In addition to these value-added services, the store provides “the little things”—a clean, designer restroom or a complimentary bottle of chilled water—that go a long way toward exceeding customers’ expectations. 

“I’ve been working with BigCentric for about three years,” says Jeff Dephillipo, owner of Traditional Construction Builders Inc., an Aston-based firm that does custom home builds and remodels. “What it boils down to is, [BigCentric] shines more than any other business I’ve worked with when it comes to shopping for the best product, the best price and the best service.”

When Dephillipo finished remodeling his own house recently, he knew exactly where to go when it came time to furnish the home with new appliances.

“As a small-business owner myself, I always aim for quality, so I know it when I see it in another business,” he adds. “I do a lot of kitchen remodels, so I’m at BigCentric at least once a month. I can’t afford to waste time; once I establish a relationship with someone, I don’t need to shop on price if I know I’m getting the best service. But in this case, I know I’m getting the best price, too.”

Regardless of the customer or the project, Stephen says BigCentric aims to deliver on one straightforward goal with every interaction: “We are consumers ourselves, so we want to treat customers the way we would want to be treated. We intend to be in this business for the next 100 or 200 years, so we don’t make any decisions for the short term. We welcome people to contact us and compare. When they do that, I think they will see a BIG difference.”

BigCentric Appliances
151 Edgemoor Road
Wilmington, DE 19809
302-304-1010 |

Photography by Jody Robinson