Showroom Demonstrates the Art of
By Anita Shaw
COLUMBIA, MDWhile rows upon rows of shiny new products might be how
some people envision the selling of kitchen appliances, most
consumers in search of information about upscale appliance units
prefer seeing products situated in kitchen environments.
The newest kitchen appliance showroom from The Fretz Corp.,
located here, highlights a long list of top-of-the-line appliances
in its 21 kitchen environments. Each vignette also features the
latest cabinetry, as well as countertops and backsplashes in
granite, marble, concrete, limestone, DuPont Zodiaq (engineered
stone) and copper.
The site of the showroom, which is located just off
Interstate-95 at 9204 Berger Road, was chosen because of its
proximity to its cross section of customers. “Columbia places us in
the middle of our Baltimore, Washington DC and northern Virginia
distribution territory, and is easily accessible to all markets,”
comments Jennifer Connelly, director of marketing for The Fretz
The Fretz Corp. held the grand opening for its latest showroom
last spring, and the company estimates that some 600 industry
members were in attendance.
The showroom, which was designed by Michael Broudy of The Broudy
Group in Philadelphia, serves designers, architects, builders and
consumers, according to Tom Dolan, president of The Fretz Corp, who
believes, “As the distributor, it is our job to be the marketing
arm of the manufacturer.”
At 12,000 sq. ft., the site is one of the largest distributor
showrooms in the U.S. “We are able to show just about every model
of every manufacturer we represent,” notes Dolan.
Appliance products are featured in a non-retail environment. “We
provide an education to consumers looking to learn more about our
products,” he states.
Among the appliance products highlighted in the showroom are:
ASKO dishwashers, washers and dryers ; kitchen ventilation items
from Best and Independent; Franke sinks and faucets; refrigeration
products from Sub-Zero and cooking appliances from Wolf.
At the opening gala, Chris Cherry, executive chef for the
Chestnut Ridge Country Club in Lutherville, MD made good use of the
showroom’s offerings, preparing hors d’oeuvres live in front of
guests in the showroom’s Kitchen Studio. Pasta and tenderloin
stations were also positioned throughout the showroom, as was a
serpentine dessert table.
The Kitchen Studio is one of the unique aspects of the Fretz
showroom. A live, 50-seat theater-style room, the studio is fully
stocked with cookware and dry ingredients.
“All of the appliances in the studio are live so that we can
demonstrate the performance of our products during consumer and
dealer demonstrations,” explains Connelly. She adds that consumers
are welcome to make an appointment to ‘test drive’ products.
The Kitchen Studio is also the setting for the television show
“The Fretz Kitchen,” which airs weekdays at 5:00 p.m. and 11:00
p.m. on Comcast channel CN8. “Half of the season is filmed in our
Columbia location, and the other half is filmed in our Philadelphia
studio,” says Connelly. The 1/2-hour show features local celebrity
chefs from the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC areas
preparing their favorite dishes.
The Fretz Corp. also enlists the showroom for The Great Chef
Series, its celebrity chef cooking presentation. “Our Philadelphia
location has been doing these events for years,” reports Connelly,
“and we will be using them as a benchmark.”
The Kitchen Studio has been the site for a number of culinary
courses as well, including classes presented by Chef Cherry for
members of the Chestnut Ridge Country Club. Local organizations
such as the Department of Parks and Recreation will be bringing
their culinary courses to the Kitchen Studio in the future,
according to Connelly.
In addition to product demonstrations in the Kitchen Studio, the
showroom has also hosted events such as the 2002 Baltimore/
Washington Chapter National Kitchen & Bath Association holiday
party. “We will continue to host events for local design and
architectural groups,” notes Connelly. The company also offers the
showroom’s conference and training rooms to professional
Customers can access product information, a calendar of events
for both the Columbia and Philadelphia showrooms, and monthly
recipes via the company’s Web site, www.fretz.com. Visitors can
also link to Web sites of all of Fretz’s featured manufacturers via
the site, and research local dealers or servicers of featured