Alabama Power appliance center in Valley ranks No. 2 in state in sales

Published 10:00 am Friday, June 3, 2022

VALLEY — It’s well known that Alabama Power has an office near city hall in Valley. It’s the center for the company’s business activity in the local area. In addition to billing customers and keeping the power tried on, the local office has an appliance store. This gives local consumers an option in acquiring new appliances. With approved credit, Alabama Power customers in the local area can purchase that new refrigerator, air conditioner, stove, hot water heater or dishwasher and have it financed on their monthly bill.

Giselle Barrett, the merchandise sales manager for the Valley office, talked about this during Wednesday’s noon-hour meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Valley. She has been in that role since February 2020.

“Everything was shut down the next month because of COVID-19,” she said. “I had to learn the business and sell from home.”

It was a difficult time to do that.

“Most people in this area are living on a budget,” Barrett said. “They want to come in and see what they are buying.”

The appliance office reopened in September of that year.

“We had to do a lot of cleaning and sanitizing,” she said. “We lost our contractor, James Gregory. He was a good man, and it was hard on us when he passed away. We didn’t have a contractor in 2021, but we have had one since January of this year.”

Barrett can be reached at (334) 502-2386 to talk about the appliances she can get for you. Because she’s at an Alabama Power office, she gets calls from people who want to complain about their power bill or some service problem they are having. Those calls should have gone to another department within the building, but she handles it as best as she can.

“I am the queen of the appliance store,” she said. “I can talk to you about any needs you may have.”

Alabama Power has appliance stores in 48 of its offices across Alabama. The Valley office ranks No. 2 in sales. That’s really good for a town with a little more than 10,000 people. Barrett credits much of this success to the office having much-combined experience.

“Our office manager, Karen Bennett, has been with Alabama Power for more than 30 years, and Lisa Roberts has been in our office for more than 20 years,” Barrett said. “People with that kind of experience make a big difference. We have a really good team in our office. My heart fills pride when I see how high our office is rated in appliance sales.”

Sales aren’t limited to Alabama Power customers. They can also be made to those who get their power from the Tallapoosa River Electric Cooperative (TREC), the cities of Lanett and LaFayette and other local providers.

Appliances being sold out of Alabama Power offices is not a new thing. It has been going on in the state for more than 100 years now. Even so, in states served by The Southern Company, it is unique. Alabama Power is the only Southern Company member to do this.

Barrett prides herself on being able to get the customer an appliance they are looking for in a short amount of time. When a customer sees an item they like and are approved for a purchase, Barrett has many times made the drive herself to a company warehouse in Opelika to pick it up and bring it back to the Valley office.

Deliveries are made to homes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Ashley Furniture is also available at the Valley office. Since Ashley’s bedroom furniture is manufactured in Vietnam and Malaysia, there’s a transport delay in getting here.

“We do complete kitchen packages,” Barrett said. “Our interest rate is lower than what’s charged on most credit cards.”

Barrett is a native of Costa Rica but has been in the U.S. for many years. She has four children. Son Jonathan is 23 and with the U.S. Navy in San Diego. Her second son, Samuel, is 21 and lives in Auburn, and her youngest son, Aaron, 18, is in Tuscaloosa. Sixteen-year-old Sarah is a rising junior at Valley High.

It has been her experience both as a parent and a sales representative to know that today’s twenty-somethings want it all right now. “Those of us who have acquired a lot over our lifetimes have gotten it little by little,” she said. “It takes time to have things, but you can if you are patient, manage your money wisely and have good credit.”

Barrett likes being a human part of the company. “We are not here just to push and sell appliances and get them out the door,” she said. “We work with people to understand their needs and are trying to help them meet those needs. If customers are willing to work with us we can set them up what they want in the way of brand-new merchandise. Everything we sell is brand new, and they can pay for it a little at a time on their monthly power bill.”

People can browse online at SmartNeighbor.com/Stores before going to their local Alabama Power appliance store. This will give them a heads up on what they can see up close before they go there.