The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

May 22, 2013

Allen finds retirement has more spark than electronics

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

SHARPSVILLE — After more than 45 years in electronics, Jack Allen decided it was time to pull the plug on his Sharpsville electronics business.

A Sharpsville staple for decades on Ridge Avenue, Faller & Allen Electronics has serviced consumer electronic products such as TVs, radios, stereos and camcorders. At age 72, Allen said it’s time to give it up.

While enjoying the business, over the years he saw it change dramatically in terms of technology pricing.

“In 1960 my dad bought a new color TV for $995 and a new Chevy Impala for $2,995,’’ Allen said. “When I see TV prices today I can’t believe it.’’

There were a number of detours along the way before he found the calling of running his own electronics business.  

Employed at Republic Steel in Ohio, he worked part time for Ristvey TV shop on Thornton Avenue in Sharon with his cousin Bob. After returning from a stint in the service, he returned to his job at Republic Steel only to get laid off, but then found work creating relay panels for cranes.

With his cousin still working at the TV shop, in 1967 the two men decided to go into business on their own and Faller & Allen was born. Buying out his cousin in 1992, Allen reincorporated in 1992 as Electronics Consumer Service but still did business as Faller & Allen.

At first the store sold products and serviced items.

At one point the shop had six service technicians who would travel as far as Pittsburgh and Cleveland performing work for clients such as Rex TV, Weiss Bros., W. T. Grant  and locally, the well-known and popular Wilson Appliances.

“We were the authorized service center for just about every television there was,’’ Allen recalled.

Over the years manufacturers made the leap from tubes to transistor panels. And with TVs, another major leap was going from analog to digital.

“When plasma TVs first came out, you couldn’t find one for under $8,000,’’ he said. “Now, to replace the panel costs more than you pay for the TV – that’s why nobody fixes them.’’

Another change was in the day every family, particularly ones with teenagers, had stereo sets with speakers that came up to the waist. Manufacturers such as Pioneer and Harman Kardon dominated a very packed field of the boxy stereos with knobs and levers.

With the advent of iPods and MP3 players those hefty stereos have become a rare sight, Allen notes.

Other once hot-selling items also ran their course such as Beta and VCRs.

“We used to get VCRs in by the truckload,’’ Allen said.

“We had two technicians who all they did was work on VCRs.’’

As for the future, Allen said he plans to auction off his Sharpsville building on May 30. After that: lots of leisure.

“I think I’m going to spend some time in Florida,’’ he said.