Local Appliance Retailers vs. Big Box Stores - Where to get the best deal?

Looking for appliances? Where you buy matters. Wondering if you should buy from a big box retailer or if a local shop would be a better option? There are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding where to shop for an item that will last for years.

Spoiler alert! Appliances prices are the same everywhere (we'll cover it in more detail later), so look for the best customer service and the best selection of product. The best appliance for you can be easily chosen with expert advice and having a large selection and brands to choose from.

Read on to learn how to find the right kind of store for you.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is a Big Box Store?
  • What Are the Disadvantages of Big Box Stores?
  • Why a specialized appliance store is the way to go
  • FAQs About Big Box Stores

What is a Big Box Store?

Big box stores are large stores or retail outlets that take up a lot of physical space. These stores typically feature a no-frills design and can occupy more than 50,000 square feet. In fact, the name "big box" actually derives from the outward appearance of these stores, which resembles a giant box.

The core differentiation between a big box compared to your average local retailer is that big box retail is geared toward high volumes of sales. Due to the (literally) warehouse size of these stores, it's possible for big box retailers to store and sell a huge variety of products, offering a bit of everything in one place.

While there are some benefits to shopping at a big box store, there are also some downsides. Make sure you understand all the pros and cons before making a large purchase at a big box retailer.

What are the Disadvantages of Big Box Stores?

Shopping at a big box retailer might seem like a smart choice, but there are some significant drawbacks to buying from one of these retailers. When you shop big box, there are several disadvantages that could impact your shopping experience.

  • Quantity over quality: Since big box outlets try to offer as many category options as possible, they often carry low-quality items in favor of more selection. You will also have limited options to choose form, as they’ll have larger inventory of fewer models.
  • Poor customer service: Many big box retailers invest less in training and customer service as a result of every team member’s need to have superficial knowledge of the different product categories they carry. Reflecting on the quality of service.
  • Inconsistent pricing: It's common for big box retailers to slash prices on big ticket items to lure shoppers into the store, but the store's other items may be marked up to cover the loss.
  • Large crowds: Big box stores are often crowded, making for a stressful shopping experience.
  • No experts: Big box retailers offer a wide variety of goods, which makes it just about impossible to staff employees who are experts on all the products they sell.
  • Monthly or Annual Fees: Some big box stores charge a monthly or annual membership fee, which incentivizes you to shop more and can cost you if you don’t use the membership frequently.

Why You Shouldn't Shop at Big Box Stores

There's nothing wrong with running to a big box store when you need to grab a few things. They can be convenient and cost-effective, but these retailers may not be the best option when you're making an important purchase. If you're investing in a new appliance or another big-ticket item, you want to have confidence that the item you're buying is the best choice for you and your needs.

Above all else, customer service and expertise are the factors that make big box stores pale to the advantages of a smaller retailers. The long-term value of a big-ticket item like a large new appliance is dependent on matching the appliance to your specific needs and the quality of the product.

Why a specialized appliance store is the way to go

Coast Appliances is a Canadian owned and operated business with 40+ years of retail expertise, customer service, and product quality is exactly what you’ll find at here. You can avoid potential headaches and have a smooth shopping experience when you shop at one of our 19 locations across Canada. When you buy from Coast Appliances, you can leave with confidence in your purchase and avoid the pitfalls of a big box retailer. Just a few of the benefits you’ll enjoy when shopping with Coast Appliances include:

  • A stellar selection of products: Coast Appliances carefully curates the products we carry, offering high-quality appliances and products from leading manufacturers. We only sell appliances, so we carry thousands of options from 50+ top brands to make sure you get exactly what you need, in your budget.
  • Exceptional customer service:At Coast Appliances you'll be able to have one-on-one time with experts who answer your questions and give you advice and support with your decision.
  • Get more for your money: Manufacturer Advertised Price, or MAP pricing, prevents retailers from pricing items below a pre-specified amount. If you're going to be paying the same amount no matter where you shop, why not enjoy a better shopping experience at Coast Appliances?
  • Unbeatable prices: You’ll always get the best deal at Coast, with our price match guarantee! Occasionally big box stores will discount prices below MAP to attract customers opposed to manufacturer’s directions (they are usually penalized for doing so), so if you happen to find something better we will match it.
  • Installation and removal services: Coast Appliances offers installation and removal services on all appliances, making it easy for you to install a new appliance in your home.
  • Protection plans: At Coast Appliances, there are optional protection plans available for big-ticket items, offered to give you peace of mind.

FAQs About Big Box Stores

Local retailers have many advantages over their big box competitors, especially when it comes to big-ticket purchases. If you still have questions about big box retailers, you can find more information about big box stores below.

Are appliance prices fixed at big box stores?

Appliances prices are the same in every store, they are fixed by manufacturers, so all retailers sell the product for the same. Appliance manufacturers will enforce several punishments for stores that chose not to follow their pricing policies.

What is the difference between a department store and a big box store?

Department stores and big box stores have many similarities. However, while department stores usually offer a range of items, many big box stores focus on a single category of products.

Why do they call them big-box stores?

Due to the large size and nondescript design of big box retail outlets, many stores resemble a giant box, which lead to the nickname.


Browse our full selection of refrigerators, dishwashers, washers & dryers to find the right appliance for your home.