When it comes to furnishing homes, sales are up in energy efficiency, high quality goods, and things made in the U.S.A. Area store owners say the economy is on the rise.
"Energy efficiency is a real big concern," said Ross Nemitz, owner of Ross' Appliances.
The newest thing in cooking appliances is a new surface coating for self-cleaning ovens.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Wendy Anderson arranges some glass backsplash tiles and floor vinyl on a granite countertop at Carpet World/Flooring America. All of these have been popular with buyers this year.
-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
David Madsen, owner of David’s Home Furnishings, poses next to a large home desk. Full home office setups have grown in popularity, as has the store’s Amish furniture line.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Ross NEmitz, co-owner of Ross’s Appliance on Central Avenue in downtown Fort Dodge demonstrates the self-cleaning feature on an oven. The process uses steam and lower heat to dissolve baked on food. Conventional self-cleaning ovens use high heat to literally turn the residue to ash. The process is safer and uses less energy.
"With a minimal temperature and adding a little water to the bottom of the oven, it creates a steam and loosens soil that's easily wiped out," Nemitz said. "With a conventional surface it takes three to four hours of 800 degrees to turn everything into ash. Then I have to clean that ash out. Now I think it's closer to 400 degrees for an hour. So it's half the temperature, one fourth of the time, and everything wipes out easily."
This uses less energy, is more convenient, and doesn't create fumes like a traditional self-cleaning oven.
Bottom-freezer style refrigerator sales are growing at the fastest pace, since with these you don't have to bend over as much to reach inside the fridge.
The same can be said for top-loading high-efficiency washing machines, which save water like a front-loader but don't require as much bending. These machines also cause dryers to use less energy, because they spin out faster than conventional washers and extract more water, Nemitz said.
"It seems that for complete kitchen replacements for new and existing homes, 2012 was a real good year, and I look for that to continue in 2013."
People also want things made in the U.S.A.
"The other thing we get asked so much in last two years, is where is this built," he said.
David's Home Furnishings has seen that as well.
"We're seeing more interest in American-made goods," said decorator Belinda Bunda at David's Home Furnishings, "and Amish quality."
"We sell a lot of Amish stuff," said owner David Madsen. "It's not that much more expensive than the Chinese stuff but it's built a lot nicer."
In their business, trends come in decades, Madsen said. The 1990s were an excellent decade for selling furniture; then in the 2000s people wanted cheap goods.
"Now in the 2010s there's a resurgence of people wanting to buy quality stuff they can enjoy for years," he said.
In the last six months, another trend he's seen is people upgrading their computer station at home into a real working home office.
According to Carpet World/Flooring America, when it comes to designing rooms, people are eager to show individuality.
"Before everybody did the same thing," said interior designer Wendy Anderson. "Now people want something that's different, unique from their neighbors. Customized."
Business has been good because of all the building going on in town, said store co-owner Tim Doyle.
"There's been a lot more building in the last year than in the five previous years," Anderson said.
"There's a lot of growth because of the new jobs," Doyle said. "The economy keeps getting better and better."
Anderson said, "We're selling a lot of countertops, people updating with countertops. And a lot more vinyl tile."
Flooring hard surfaces have really been growing, Doyle said.
"Carpet is always a good alternative, but hard surfaces is one of those things that has a little longer life span," he said.
Vinyl tiles that look like wood or ceramic are especially popular, he said.
Those tiles are easier to see now that the store has a new location.
The store finished moving to its new location, 3026 Fifth Ave. S., in November 2012.
"It's great," Doyle said. "We get a lot more people. Before, when we were downtown, we got people who were looking for something in particular, but now people just come in to look."
"It's laid out better, so we can show people more things," Anderson said. "We have more space, more displays."
"The actual kitchens and bathrooms and showers, people can see how the different patterns and tiles look in an actual setting now," said Doyle.