Richardson’s oldest vacuum retailer Woody Mann Vacuums undeterred by digital age

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Father-son duo Stephen and Randy Katz know a thing or two about vacuums, due in no small part to Woody Mann Vacuums, their family-owned store and Richardson’s oldest vacuum retailer.

Stephen has owned the store for 36 years but has worked in the vacuum industry since college. Around the same time that Stephen began selling vacuums door-to-door in Connecticut, Woody Mann, the business’s original owner, opened the Richardson shop.

Some 18 years later Stephen moved his family from Hartford to Richardson and bought the store in 1982. He later moved the business to a shopping center on West Campbell Road, where it has remained for some 30 years.

Running the store seems to come easily to Stephen and Randy, neither of whom has qualms about mixing fun into his workday. Even as Randy discussed the many hats he wears at the shop—from vacuum repair to customer service to website management—Stephen interrupted with, “I only wear one hat!” before disappearing into his office and returning wearing a visor topped with a swath of fake hair.

The younger Katz said he fell into the vacuum profession after working with his dad during high school.

In a marketplace now fueled by online shopping, Stephen and Randy said resisting the changing tide was easy. The secret to longevity, Stephen said, comes down to two simple factors: impeccable customer service and a hands-on experience.

“You can’t call [Amazon.com Inc.] and say, ‘Oh by the way, I have this new frieze carpet. Should I use this vacuum on it?’” he said.

Instead, Woody Mann customers can ask questions and test out various vacuum models before making a purchase. Moreover, the business offers assembly and service, two features customers will not find online, they said.

Offering a combined 70 years of vacuum experience, the Katz men said they will not sell just any vacuum. Their primary brand is Riccar, which they chose because the brand is American-made. The men know the machines inside and out and offer nearly every imaginable service, from cleaning to maintenance to parts replacement.

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