Customers can win a chance to buy one of six major prizes for $60 during a three-day 60th-anniversary celebration at Ralph's Joy of Living Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"My parents opened the store on May 15, 1950, so that is the official day," said Ralph Smothers II, who now owns the store with his wife, Julie.
Open house hours are 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday.
Ralph Smothers II (left) and Ralph Smothers Sr. pose in front of a store counter to promote the 60th anniversary of Ralph’s Joy of Living. The store is to offer six customers a chance to purchase a major appliance for $60. The three-day event also is to feature wine samples for 60 cents each and free pork tenderloins.
The prize drawings are to close the event Saturday, so people have all three days to register.
Six winners are to get an opportunity to buy a new appliance for $60 - dishwasher, microwave, washer, dryer, double range and Corian countertop.
"But there'll be other prizes too," he said.
During the celebration, wine samples - usually $1 each - are 60 cents.
Appliance supplier Fisher Paykel is to bring an outdoor grill from New Jersey to cook pork tenderloins, free to people attending.
Ralph and Evelyn Smothers opened the store at 45 N. Washington St., originally selling washers and dryers, and later adding refrigerators, ranges, dishwashers and microwaves.
The younger Smothers said he grew up in Tiffin, but he left the area as a young man to make his home elsewhere.
He returned in the mid1980s.
"I learned to appreciate how great Tiffin is," he said. "But I realized I couldn't make a living just selling appliances."
So he started to think about ways he could diversify.
"I learned early on that people would rather deal with one person if they can," he said. "The more you spend, the better price you get. And the dealer is better off too."
When he and Julie married in 1994, they decided to open the Fremont store so they each could run one.
"She has a passion for all the gadgets and the cookware," he said. "She really enjoys presentation."
So Julie started offering cooking classes in Fremont, and continued for three years.
"It was the talk of Fremont," he said. "We realized really quick that people who like to cook like nice kitchens."
So they built a show kitchen.
"It hit us like a ton of bricks," he said. "It's the same darn customer. We risked everything. We mortgaged our house to do what we've done here."
After their three children were born between 1998 and 2002, the Smothers said they decided to move the main store back to Tiffin and expanded in 2003.
Smothers said he has worked hard to differentiate the store from competitors.
"You have to try to look different from your competition," he said. "Julie used to sell wine before I met her. The light came on.
"We are the only appliance company in the country with a wine and beer license, so we really are a unique store," Smothers said. "She has a lot of knowledge. It was probably the best decision we ever made."
They also added a line of gourmet coffee and hard-to-find cheeses, gourmet foods, hand-crafted beers and ready-to-bake breads.
"Once people try our products they tend to get hooked on them," Smothers said. "People who like wine love our selection."
The newest items are HDTVs, home theater systems and cigars.
"My parents always had a wonderful clientele," he said. But there are differences now.
"Now they come in here and take their coat off, have some coffee, sample some cheese, and maybe some wine," he said. "That's why it's going to be a long-term success because people enjoy being in the store."