When you walk through the doors of Cohens Electronics and Appliances in Montgomery, the modern showroom has an instant “wow” factor. The front door opens up to a huge, football shaped room of televisions, allowing you to experience the latest and greatest in home theater technology. Just beyond that, Cohens offers another full showroom of major home appliances. Once you look past the shiny, new gadgets, the most important detail comes into focus – the service. Putting customer service at the heart of what they do is how the Cohens have operated their family business for more than 50 years.
If you follow the Alabama Retail Association on Facebook or Twitter, you’ve seen our recent travels across Alabama, as we’ve visited and photographed some of our members and Retailer of the Year finalists. Last week, Alabama Retail visited Cohens, a member since 1983 and a 2008 Alabama Retailer of the Year. Founder Raymond Cohen also serves on our board of directors.
“I’ll be right there, Mrs. Loeb,” called out Raymond Cohen as he posed for a photo. Mr. Cohen saw a familiar customer walk in the door, called her by name and made sure she wasn’t kept waiting.
It’s that kind of personalized customer service that Raymond Cohen and two of his sons, Michael and David, pride themselves on in their family business. “When you buy something from Cohens, you’re not just buying a TV, you’re buying us,” said Michael Cohen. “We have customers who have been doing business with us for 30-plus years, and now their children and grandchildren do business with us too. I can’t guarantee that our Maytag washer or Samsung television is any better than one you’d purchase somewhere else, but it’s our people that make the difference.”
Raymond Cohen opened The Record Shop in 1957 in the Normandale Arcade, selling records and stereos. He learned the retail business from his dad, Eli, who owned Cohen Amusement Co., which sold jukeboxes and vending machines. In 1977, The Record Shop moved to its current location on Montgomery’s East Boulevard. In 1989, The Record Shop became Cohens Electronics and Appliances. Raymond Cohen with his sons, David and Michael, now sell high-definition televisions, home theater systems, home automation and major household appliances. They employ their own delivery, install crew and technicians, again adding value through their service.
Cohens offers prices comparable to national chains, but as Michael Cohen admits, that’s not always the perception.
“We’ve heard people say before, ‘We wanted to shop local, but we probably paid too much at Cohens.’ But that’s not the case. We check prices every day; our goal is to be the same price, or lower, than our competitors.
“When you call Cohens,” Michael Cohen adds, “there’s no 1-800 number. In fact, you’ll probably be speaking to a Cohen on the other end of the line. We don’t mind going to bat for you with the manufacturers. Our people are empowered to do the right thing because this is our community. This is our home.”
“Years ago,” said Raymond Cohen, “it was all about service. Now it’s about price. So, we make sure that we not only offer the best prices, but we also have the finest service department in this community. We want to take care of our customers. It’s easier to keep a customer happy, than to find new ones,” said the Cohen family patriarch.
Cohens Electronics and Appliances, 2515 East Blvd, Montgomery, AL, is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays.
Photos by Lloyd Gallman