Total Home to close its door at the end of the month

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Total Home Repair & Appliance is closing at the end of this month after operating the past 16 years along Main Street in Hillsboro.

“Right now, the plan is to close the doors of Total Home Repair & Appliance by the end of June,” said Paul Epp, who co-owns the business with wife Kathy.

“At this point, that’s where we’re headed until we’re led differently. We feel like the service part will still happen. But how? We don’t know.”

The first day in June, the couple made the decision to close and have a going-out-of-business sale through June 26.

The business has offered a large showroom of Maytag appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, washers and dryers and microwaves. The Maytag umbrella also included Amana, Magic Chef and Jenn-Air brand names.

As a licensed plumber and electrician, Epp also offered whole-home repair service, such as heating and air conditioning, appliances, and a variety of electrical and plumbing needs.

As the sole technician and manager, Epp said, “It’s pretty difficult to bring in enough money to support a business like this. When I’m here, I’m not making any money for the business. You really need somebody to manage it and somebody to work” as the service technician.

Epp originally operated a repair-service business out of his home beginning in 1980.

“I did some repair work,” he said. “I did a lot of remodeling, like kitchens, and small-repair things, because I was a licensed plumber and electrician.”

In 1988, he moved downtown to 117 S. Main, the current location for Klose & Kozy Restaurant. Total Home Repair expanded to Total Home Repair & Appliances.

“At that time, we added appliances and heating and air conditioning to our repertoire,” Epp said. “Plus, we had the remodeling and electrical and just the full gamut of things any homeowner might need.”

In September 2000, Epp renovated his store to accommodate the opening of the China Buffet restaurant and moved his business north to its current location.

“There was nothing here” at that time, Epp said about the current retail space. “It’s a 100-plus year-old building. It was a mercantile store at one time and whenever Maytag became available, they began selling it.”

Epp also added the Zenith television line when he moved north.

Asked why he was closing, Epp said, “There’s no real easy answer. There’s a combination of factors that brought us to that point. We’ve been seeking God’s will what to do with it. It’s not going like it should.”

Reporting sales down this year, Epp said one contributing factor is the state of the current sluggish economy, but two other issues were major factors in his decision to close.

“I think the economy plays a fairly large part in this,” Epp said. “Then, there’s just the circumstances of a small-county membership to draw customers from and people not buying at home.”

Customers were traveling 50 to 60 miles away to buy from what the industry calls big-box stores. They appeared to be seeking cheaper prices. But Epp said his prices were competitive.

“My prices were exactly like theirs on every item that’s equal,” he said. “It’s something in their head-the big store has it cheaper, and cheaper is better. I’m sorry-it isn’t that way.”

Everything in the store is marked 5 percent above dealer cost, and Epp is still taking orders for appliances this month.

After closing, Epp said he hopes to continue his repair business but is considering various other possibilities.

“I plan to continue repairs,” he said. “But if one of the leads takes me out of town to work for somebody else, then that’s going to be pretty minimal. Everything else is too gray, too undecided at this point. I’ll pursue possibilities when I see them or ideas God gives me.”

As he and Kathy wind down their business on Main Street, Epp said he wants to thank his loyal customers who have stood by him over the years.

“They’ve been very kind, very supportive,” he said. “It’s always good to be able to satisfy our customers.

“When they’re happy with what we’ve done, it’s the biggest blessing.”

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