The iconic signage may have come down last year, but Economy TV on 9th & Oklahoma IS OPEN for business – just as it has been for nearly four decades! We spoke with owner Mike Kaiser to find out how this ‘old school’ business has evolved over the years.
“It’s 1982,” Mike began. “Ronald Reagan is President, the Brewers were headed to the World Series, our economy was in the midst of a recession, and my second daughter was just born. I resigned my position as Store Manager for a local hardware store chain and opened Economy TV on August 1, 1982. I was ALL IN.”
In the early years Mike would purchase console TVs in need of repair, restore them, and sell these “pieces of furniture” to customers (with a 3-year limited warranty). Customers would bring in their broken RCA, Zenith, Sony, Magnavox, Gold Star – you name it, and Economy TV was there to fix it. Tube (CRT) TVs, bulky VCRs and heavy Betamax players of the 1980s and ‘90s made way for the digital era, which brought about thinner and lighter units with ever-increasing screen dimensions. These days cracked screens and faulty lights make up nearly all the repairs brought into the shop.
Mike refers to his sole employee, Robert, as “the brains behind the operation.” Robert has been responsible for all of Economy TVs repair and restoration work for the past five years. It may seem like today’s televisions are disposable, but a simple fix could save you hundreds of dollars. Robert touched on that topic when he told us, “I try to save people money. So, if we have the [parts], I want to fix it.”
Mike let us know that the shop has recently been “emphasizing vintage electronics.” Robert is already seeing an uptick in vintage turntables, radios and stereo tuners coming in for repair and refurbishing. This ability to adapt to the fast-paced world of consumer electronics is what has kept Economy TV around all these years.
While change is good, it can be comforting to hold on to pieces of the past, like the original Economy TV sign. “Neighbors and former residents were lamenting about how they miss the nostalgic signage,” Mike recalled. One online comment read “I drive past there almost every day. Loved that sign!” The buzz from the neighborhood encouraged Mike to recreate the historic insignia, which he plans to invest in using matching dollars received through the Crisol Corridor Business Improvement District Beautification Grant.
Mike has no plans of closing-up shop anytime soon. In fact, he wanted to remind everyone that “Economy TV is your one-stop-shop for all electronics repairs. From your non-working TVs to your vintage stereo components. We’ve seen them all. Stop in with your cherished items and we’ll get them up and running once again!”