- Linda Ruminer
Wallace and Nellie Gordon first started Gordon’s Electric in March 1955. The first location was on Inyo Street near the railroad tracks and next to Hummel’s Bike Shop.
In 1957 they moved their business downtown to 136 S. K Street. The business was across the street from Toledo’s Jewelry and Central Pharmacy. In the beginning, Nellie ran the store, and Wallace did the service and house calls. In 1975 the family moved their business to their present location at 348 East King Avenue. The site was the former location of The First Baptist Church. The business stands on what used to be the former youth department of the church.
Wallace and Nellie Gordon have three sons; Dennis, Rick, and Rod. In February 1992, Rod bought out his dad and became President of the Corporation.
In April 1992, Rod had been president of the company for only a couple of months. He lived in a house next door to the business, but when an arson fire started in Rod’s garage, the fire soon consumed Rod’s home and the business. The fire destroyed everything. Rod said the first person to call was Wilma Canby offering all kinds of supplies to help them get back to business and contribute to answer telephones and assist any way possible. After the fire, they worked at the King Street location. They had a trailer for an office, with a big tent for a showroom. They operated their business for about two months before moving the business to their warehouse on North I Street while erecting a new building on King Street.
In April 1993, while doing business at the warehouse on I Street, a second fire started by gas cans. This fire was smaller but still did considerable damage to the big sliding doors and several major appliances.
In August 1993, there was a third major fire. It was again on I Street, just before opening the nearly finished business on King Street. They had extra computers and extra inventory at I Street, ready to go into the new location. This fire destroyed everything at the I Street warehouse. Again they lost everything. Gordon’s Electric Appliance store suffered approximately $1 million in fire damage.
With $750,000 in merchandise, lost were years of family and business souvenirs whose monetary cost didn’t compare to their sentimental value. All their momentos were gone.
Armed with nothing more than a loaner cell phone Rodney Gordon started working out of his pickup truck outside his uncompleted King Avenue store, ordering new inventory and answering service calls. With the help of their distributors, Gordon was able to piece together a modest display. Fiddler Construction finished up the King Street building as quickly as possible. Frigidaire brought all new merchandise within 24 hours. Bob Myers brought used desks, chairs, file cabinets, notepads, and pencils. Out of the ashes came the community showing love and support, bringing food, and offering all kinds of services. Rod Gordon said Tulare has always been very good to them. The city has always been generous support whenever needed.
From the ruins of the I Street warehouse came a modern all-metal building to store inventory once again.
Today Gordon’s Electric is a thriving business. They sell numerous name brands of major kitchen appliances such as Maytag, Frigidaire, Jenn-Air, Whirlpool, Electrolux, Dacor, and Bosch, to name a few. They also sell other appliances such as stoves and washers and dryers. The store offers more options for builders and homeowners alike.
The organization “Brand Source” affiliates with Gordon's. Brand Source is a logo name associated with volume buyers. They are a buying group that gives them clout with over 2800 other stores. Brand Source stands behind Gordon’s Electric and backs them with Nationwide Advertising.
Wallace and Nellie Gordon are proud of the business and their son Rod and how they have overcome such adversity. They say they are a more substantial business today because of it. Wallace still works at the company most days, working in the back on whatever he can. Nellie speaks very highly of him. Rod is very proud of his parents and the legacy they have left for him.