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Where Can You Find Affordable Retro Appliances?

Can Retro Appliances Really Be Affordable?

What does “affordable retro appliances” mean to you? It may read like a contradiction in terms if you’ve been shopping around. But it doesn’t have to be.

You may have to do some extra legwork to get what you want, but people are acquiring retro appliances all the time.

“Affordable” is, of course, different things for different people. As is retro.

For most though, retro means something Harriet Nelson might have in her kitchen, although the brilliant colors now offered far exceed any we saw in our childhood days of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the table with a tall glass of milk.

Retro seems to imply happier days and an eagerness to reinstall the environments in which we found comfort and security.

But enough for philosophy. If you want affordable retro appliances, you can have them, assuming your idea of affordable fits the schemes.

Are Genuine Affordable Retro Appliances Being Made Today?

The simple answer is “Yes.” With a qualifier.

Purists will tell you that, if it’s made today, it’s modern, not retro. Yet most folks are more than happy to concede that, if it looks retro, it’s retro enough for them. Some are true enough to hold to older style operations, eschewing plastics and other modern shortcuts.

Elmira Stove Works makes a line of ‘50s looking stoves and refrigerators in bright colors that have been popular for prices that are, on average, lower than their competitors. The also make older looking wood-burning cookstoves. While the look of Elmira’s appliances are agreeably retro, complaints from purchasers that their are cheap and use plastics that deny a genuine touch and feel of retro. Prices are inexplicable hidden behind PDF downloads that are full of information, but not pricing. You may have to call an 800 number.

Big Chill makes some of the most gorgeous retro appliances you’ll see online, but when you see the front page feature for “Celebrity Kitchens,” you may have decided already that affordable is not a term you’ll be using when you describe them. They make impressively retro refrigerators in seven custom colors, starting at $2,595. Hm.

Heartland, in part of a larger appliance business at AJMadison, carries a line of antique style stoves and retro refrigerators. Shopping here is not nearly as charming, but it can be a bit cheaper. Their “affordable” retro refrigerator runs a few hundred less than Big Chill’s, but still comfortable over $2,000 per.

Smeg, also sold domestically by AJMadison is an interesting contender for affordable retro refrigerators. Don’t let the name fool you. Smeg is Italian, headquartered in Guastalla in Reggio Emilia. Except for the stunning range of beautiful colors, their refrigerators are agreeably ‘50s looking, inside and out. And, of all the refrigerators I checked for testing, only Smeg’s come in at under $2,000, just a hair under, but a better price than any others I saw.

But Weren’t We Talking About Affordable Retro Appliances?

I get your point, and yes, there is an answer, and it’s the same one so many of us have when we want to save money. Well, two answers really.

1) Craig’s List. There’s a local website for almost anywhere. Things go fast on Craig’s List, and it can be confusing and a little unsettling. But affordable retro appliances of all kinds are there. You have to be quick and diligent, though. If you can handle the virtual street fair that is Craig’s List, you may very well find what you need at prices you can afford.

2) The other all-purpose answer is eBay, a sort of cleaned up and better organized Craig’s List where you can bid on what you want. In my experience, if you shop patiently on eBay, you can eventually find anything you want and at a better price than elsewhere. As with Craig’s List, it probably won’t be new. Unlike Craig’s List, you’ll feel less like you’re lost in the woods.

Conclusion: Affordable retro appliances are out there and ready to be bought. You will find more variety in colors than the original models ever had. The prices will be high. “Affordable” is a personal matter. Some of us want what we want and want only the most affordable.

Affordable for others is a very clear idea of practical value. Paying double or triple for a bright blue or pink retro refrigerator may not make any sense.

My suggestion is that you let your fingers do the walking, on a keyboard these days, and analyze the field. Between Craig’s List and Big Chill, you’re like to find something that fits your definition of affordable retro appliances. Let us know how you make out by coming back to comment.

David Stone, Writer

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