Askett Appliance Centre closes after more than five decades

Longtime businessman Keith Askett served community downtown and at council table

MINTO — Keith Askett of Palmerston’s Askett Appliance Centre has made the decision to retire and close his store.

“I just decided it’s time for me to move on,” explained Askett.

He added he is appreciative of all the support people have provided him over the years. 

The business owner has operated Askett Appliance Centre since 1969, and had a retirement sale this year at the end of May.

Askett Appliance Centre has been in Palmerston’s downtown for the past 50-plus years, and in recent years business has either been booming or enduring, based on the up-and-down cycles of the local economy.

There were no other appliance stores in town when Askett first opened his doors. 

Being mechanically inclined, Askett enjoyed fixing things and recalled that appliances seemed like they were the right way for him to go.

However, Askett has seen “tremendous change” in the appliance business over the years.

Interviewed by the Advertiser in 2019 during his 50th year in business, Askett stated that when he first started, most appliances were sold and manufactured in the region.

Repair work used to be a big part of his business. 

He noted that today, appliance repair has a lot more to do with computers than it does motors. It is now a more specialized field.

Askett has long been heavily involved within the Palmerston community.

Prior to opening the store, he spent four years as a councillor of Palmerston, and a total of 14 years, with some breaks here and there, as the community’s mayor.

The business owner did not have to hire much help over the past five decades. He was fortunate that he could rely on family members to help run the store when he was not available.

Askett’s daughter Chris Craig said Askett would likely still be running the store if he was not 88 years old.

“He just knew that, he, himself couldn’t do it anymore. But also, the times have changed hugely and the way people shop has changed,” Craig stated.

She added Askett used to have stock appliances, and used the example that whenever somebody needed a new fridge, it was right there for them to go down and get it, or they would ask Askett to deliver — and he would.

“When the pandemic came, everything kind of stopped, and then everything became hard to get. And he found that very frustrating that he couldn’t have the stock sitting there when people needed it,” said Craig.

With consumers ordering more things online since the pandemic, many small businesses have felt the impact – Askett Appliances among them.

“If people don’t support them, and they close, they’re going to have nobody because there’s no help anymore. There’s no customer service anymore,” Craig explained.

Askett was keen to help others fix their appliances so they did not need to go buy a new one. 

Craig says that if an element of a stove was broken, Askett would know how to fix it. Changing technology, and having it change so quickly, made this more difficult for Askett when it came to newer products.

Craig says her father would not only sell consumers an appliance, but would also help them understand when something went wrong and how to install it.

In 2019 Askett also stated, “today the young people like to shop at the big stores and everybody has a pickup truck so they can buy their washers in the city and throw them in the back of the truck. 

“It makes a difference on business that’s for sure.”

He added that today’s appliances are not as heavy either.

Craig mentioned a key thing to note is that Askett is from the generation that was very big on the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. 

She says he lived that way long before it was common practice. 

Craig recalls her father was very frugal and kept his business to the basics.

“I admire him for that,” she said.