The appliance dude

From a small repair shop on Ashburton Avenue in downtown Yonkers to today’s brand-new luxury 8,000-square-foot “appliance playground” on Central Park Avenue, Curto’s Appliances has evolved continuously and successfully for nearly 70 years.

“After expanding in Yonkers and making a commitment to stay where we started, we opened our new showroom on May 5 and had a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Mike Spano on June 11,” said third-generation owner Jonathan Giannettino. “We have created a beautiful designer showroom where people can explore our products with no pressure.”

The new appliance store is among the largest showrooms in Westchester County and New York City and offers enormous displays of Viking, Sub-Zero and Wolf, Thermador, Liebherr and Bertazzoni-Italia, among other brands.

Curto’s Appliances was founded by Giannettino’s grandfather, Mario Curto, a World War II veteran and the son of Sicilian immigrants.

“My grandfather learned how to fix appliances in shop class at Soundview High School (in the Bronx) and when the war was over, he had a vision of GIs coming home, marrying, having families, buying homes and needing appliances.”

Curto opened the repair shop in 1947 on Ashburton Avenue and two years later, was joined by his brother, Joseph, an excellent salesman. The business grew and prospered and by the l980s had several stores in Westchester. The brothers decided to consolidate and by the early l990s everything was under one roof at 1900 Central Park Ave.

But it was not all smooth sailing.

“By this time my father, Frank, had taken over the reins of Curto’s, but the competitive landscape had changed,” Giannettino said. “You had a much more challenging retail environment for appliances with the emergence of ‘big box’ stores like The Home Depot. I had established a career in the Internet industry and was doing quite well but decided to pitch in and help my parents.”

In 2003, Giannettino joined the family business and rolled up his sleeves, using his MBA and knowledge of the Internet and its vast marketing potential to good advantage.

“I established the first appliance website in Westchester and sales took off. Even though I was still getting offers in my field, I decided to stay with Curto’s. My marketing ideas drove sales upward and I created a video blog, ‘The Appliance Dude,’ which was tremendously successful and drew interest from all over the country.

“‘The Appliance Dude’ was so successful that the CEO of Viking flew me in to Los Angeles to show my videos at the largest kitchen-and-bath showcase in the industry.”

By this time, Curto’s Appliances had completely outgrown its old quarters.

“We had to move because we simply needed more space,” Giannettino said. “Friends and associates advised us to leave Yonkers and move to northern Westchester or Fairfield County, with their high demand for luxury appliances. But after talking to what I called my ‘Council of Elders,’ I decided to stay in Yonkers. Our DNA was forged in this town and that’s where I wanted to be.”

Curto’s Appliances moved to a family-owned building at 1966 Central Park Ave. and Giannettino created the appliance playground.

“I wanted a big, beautiful space where people can not only see a full array of appliances but can also be free to touch and feel them. I call them ‘live kitchens.’ The environment is a totally different animal. It is dynamic and interactive and there are no high-pressure sales. Instead, I have information brokers who I like to call ‘trust agents.’ They give customers clear and honest information, the best possible prices and are there to explain and guide them to the best choices.”

In addition to his full line of appliances, Curto’s now carries HD TVs and SONOS HiFi music systems.

“I saw the demand and decided to fill it,” Giannettino said.

He is happy to have completed the first phase of his expansion and has more in mind, renovating another 3,000 square feet downstairs in the same building.

“I have to say that Curto’s Appliances is spot-on gorgeous,” he said. “It was designed to look high-end but the four-burner stoves are still here. We have all the basics in addition to complete luxury kitchen packages. Whether a customer wants to spend $500 or $5,000 on a stove, we have it.”

Giannettino said he is totally satisfied with his decision to join the family business.

“I have always looked at myself as something of a contrarian and the decision to leave the Internet world at the time I did was the right one. Curto’s has thrived, our location couldn’t be better, and I have many things planned for the future.”

One of these is cooking classes that Giannettino says he will be starting up in the fall.

“I plan to hold these in the evening and use my Sub-Zero kitchen and my Thermador kitchen,” he said.

“There will be a variety of different classes, including gluten-free baking; sushi; some ethnic cuisines, including southern Italian cooking, a tribute to my family heritage. I am also going to hold grilling classes with men in mind. All classes will be taught by professional chefs. The classes will help demystify some of our more sophisticated products and let people see how they work.”

Giannettino lives in Yonkers with his wife, Nicole, and their three children – Scarlett, 5; Alexander, 3; and Sienna, just 8 months. He said he is more than pleased with his decision to recommit to Yonkers.

“There are some very interesting seeds being planted here and we feel that this is the best place to be positioned moving forward. Staying in Yonkers was a strategic decision that has really paid off.”

For more, call 914-793-5600 or visit curtos.com; and check out Jonathan Giannettino’s video blog at appliance-dude.com

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