The best selling tool at Aladdin Vac is its owner, Ron Pastore, who first learned the business from his father, an Electrolux salesman.
As a teenager, Pastore used to help his father repair Electrolux vacs and soon discovered that he had a real knack for working with machiness. He also has a real knack for working with people, and these two characteristics have proven to be a winning success formula with Aladdin Vac.
Pastore founded the store in 1976, based ont he philosophy that “you should go to the limit for the customer–find out what their needs are, and cater to those needs–no matter what it takes.”
“I never try to sell the same vac to the same customer,” he continued. “Each customer is an individual with specialized needs. And if they can’t decide which vac to buy, I let them take it home to see if they like it.”
Aladdin’s customized service is evident in all of its three businesses–selling and servicing vacs, dry cleaning carpets, and installing central vacs. There is a workbench right in the middle of the 1,200-square-foot store, for quick vac repairs. Pastore and his partner of 10 years, Larry Donohue, handle all repairs, sales, and at home services. Perks like matching or beating prices of competitors, allowing customers to return vacs with no obligation, and extended store warranties, are all part of what makes Aladdin a specialized shop, according to Pastore.
“Our goal is to make the customer happy. If they don’t like something, we’ll fix it,” he says.
Aladdin’s services are made-known mainly through word of mouth, with very little advertising or promotional activity. “Signs don’t really sell vacs. People do,” Pastore says. “I’m your information booth on vacuum cleaners. I’m your point-of-purchase display.”
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In speaking with Pastore, one can easily see why he considers himself a “walking encyclopedia on vacuum cleaners.” He can rattle off the benefits of every vac in his shop as if he were reciting his life’s history.
“There is no school on vacs. You learn from doing,” Pastore says. “The reason my customers come to me is for all the extra service and education that they can’t get from a department store. I better make sure I know my business.”
Aladdin started as a 225-square-foot concession stand at the former J.J. Newburrys department store in New York. Pastore operated the business there for six years before opening his shop in the current location in 1982.
Aladdin carries more than 50 different vacuum cleaners, representing eight manufacturers. The store stocks everything from sweepers to hand vacs as low as $29.95, to central vacs for over $1,000 installed. About half of the 1,200-square-foot store is devoted to selling area, the remainder to stock and repair.