MOUNT VERNON — About the only thing that has remained the same in the appliance business since 1952 is alternating current, but beginning that year and through the 60 intervening years, Herald’s Appliances and Electronics has been a fixture on the commercial landscape of Mount Vernon.
Herald’s has been at its 121 S. Main St. downtown location since 1994, and is a thriving business that defies conventional wisdom as it nears its landmark 60th birthday this fall. Family-owned local stores were commonplace in the 1950s, and most small cities had their commerce centered around vibrant downtown areas. Most of those small town shopping districts have since become endangered by commercial sprawl, locally in the form of what might be called the Coshocton Avenue Effect. Similarly, most independent and family-owned appliance stores have been left in the wake of volume-oriented box stores and Internet sales that have gained retail dominance. But not Herald’s.
With founder Robert Herald at the helm from 1952 to 1991, and his son, Phil, since 1991, Herald’s has not only survived, but now lays claim to being the largest independent audio, video and appliance company in Central Ohio. As with most enduring businesses, plenty of elbow grease has contributed to Herald’s success. Just as importantly, the store has stayed with the times, and through a combination of personalized service and business savvy, it has positioned itself for the long run. But oddly enough, the company might never have come into being except for a 1952 robbery.