A Different Approach to Retail: Mike Tank, Tag’s Appliance (Sheboygan, Wis.)

A Different Approach to Retail: Mike Tank, Tag’s Appliance (Sheboygan, Wis.)


Don’t go looking for the Tag’s Appliance website. It isn’t there. New “lifestyle vignettes” on the showfloor? Nope. In-store events or cooking demonstrations this holiday season? Uhn uh. Catchy theme song or particularly successful slogan? “Um, nothing really comes to mind,” says Mike Tank, co-owner of the 25-year-old Wisconsin appliance and furniture store. Tank is an old school retailer, and he’ll tell you very plainly that he has no plans to evolve anytime soon.

“Last year, the holiday season was average and we’re anticipating this year to be about like last year,” he says.

Despite the deadpan projections, Tank is so busy with customers on a typical October day, he can barely come to the phone. It’s nearly winter in Sheboygan, a market of 53,000, and customers are busy nesting in preparation for their yearly hibernation. “Reclining-motion furniture is selling well right now,” says Tank. “In Wisconsin, everybody stays in and watches the Packers.”

Tank does expect these busy days to deliver a profitable holiday season overall, though, true to his Eyore nature, he’d never brag about it. “I expect we’ll make money,” he concedes, “but with the housing slowdown, not a lot.” It may be this very attitude that has gained the trust of his customers, who almost all know him by name. “Our reputation is probably low price and good service,” he says, as he quick sets down the phone to get back to it.