Lake Electronics Inc., one of the first and longest lasting electronic repair shops in the Capital Region, closed its doors on March 15, 2013, after 60 successful years in business.
A landmark at 1650 Central Avenue, Albany, New York, Lake Electronics was known for its customer service and as the warranty service center for the majority of major brand appliances and electronics. People traveled from all over the northeast and beyond to have anything and everything fixed — from radios and stereos to toasters, microwave ovens, air conditioners, and vacuum cleaners. At its height, Lake employed 40 people in its massive repair shop.
But it was television repair that would be Lake’s core business, as Vincent Triolo knew when he first opened the shop in 1952. I Love Lucy was just entering its second season, while other television classics like The Honeymooners were yet to come. Between 1948 and 1952, the number of televisions in American homes had increased from just 400,000 to
“We opened just when television started to take off,” said Lake Electronics president Andy Mirabile. “TV repair made Lake Electronics the company it was for many years.”
Over its entire 60-year history, Lake Electronics remained a family business. After the death of Vincent Triolo in 1973, Tony Mirabile, his brother-in-law who joined Lake in 1954, took over as president. Tony was instrumental in growing the business as the industry changed. Small appliances eventually became disposable items – it cost much less to just buy a new toaster than to fix an old one. At the same time, new and expensive electronics like VCRs, home audio systems, car stereos, microwaves, and most recently big screen LCD, LED, and plasma TVs came onto the market. Replacement costs were still high enough that they were worth fixing. Even 10 years ago, walk-in traffic—which made up about 80 percent of Lake Electronics’ sales—was on average about 200 people per day.
When Tony retired in 1993, Vincent’s son Michael Triolo was promoted to the President’s position until his death in 1998. Tony’s son, Andrew Mirabile, became the company’s fourth and last president in 1998, with Sharon Triolo, Michael’s wife, serving as vice president, and their daughter, Maria Sciotti, as secretary and parts manager since 2006.
“We remained competitive because we worked with the major retailers, providing warranty service and expertise. We also expanded our business to include home theater and car stereo installation,” Andy Mirabile said. “Most importantly though, we were well known and trusted in the area. I loved hearing stories from our customers, like how their grandfather brought in his old cabinet RCA to be fixed 50 years ago.”
Eventually, as the cost to produce even these high-end items inevitably came down, they too became easier to replace than to fix. Even under warranty, manufacturers began replacing items rather than making parts and service information available to servicers.
“It’s a natural change in market forces — the faster and cheaper you can produce electronics, the more likely they’ll become throwaway goods,” Mirabile said. “When we closed in March, we were the oldest business operating in the village of Colonie and the last full-service electronic repair shop in the area. I call that a success.”
Mirabile said that although closing the store was the right decision, it was a difficult one. “It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend,” he said. “Ever since we closed the doors, we’ve received countless calls and emails from our customers — past and present — who are sad to see Lake come to an end. It makes us all proud that we were able to provide our customers with such a high level of service and support for so long.”