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Tech changes are the history of Manette TV

From black and white boxes to high-definition television, Manette TV has seen a lot of changes in technology.

Vernon Higbee, now deceased, founded Manette TV in 1949. Now located at 2105 East 11th Street, it is believed to be the oldest Manette business and the last existing new TV sales and service outlet in Bremerton, according to the current owner Steve Davies, who owns the store with his wife Janet.

“Everybody calls us the anchor of the community,” said Davies.

He said the new technology in television isn’t the only change the store has seen. “The mix of what we sell has changed a lot,” he said.

He said the store used to be a “full-fledged” electronics store, selling everything from TVs to appliances — including organs. He said the store sells mostly televisions now, but also has DVDs, surround-sound stereo systems and small emergency radios.

Davies worked for Manette TV for 23 years before he bought it 11 years ago. He was a manager of the store. He said most of his employees have been there a long time.

“We already knew how to operate the business so it was viable and a good source of income,” Davies said.

He said the most amazing piece of technology he has seen in his 34 years is high-definition television. According to Davies, the picture is a lot clearer, but not a lot of broadcast companies are using high-definition equipment to film television.

The technicians at Manette TV go to workshops and classes to learn updates on technology so they don’t have a problem fixing newer items.

The trademark of the store is the big Manette TV sign on top of the building. Davies said the sign is from the early 1950s. He said he has problems getting someone to work on it because it is so old.

“The TV sign is kind of a landmark,” said Davies.

Davies said he loves being in Manette because he doesn’t have to worry about parking, he knows all his customers fairly well and has even had generations of customers come in to buy or have something fixed. Davies said the business is “off the beaten path,” but that it doesn’t bother him too much because TVs are not usually impulse-buy items.

He said the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and the downturn of the U.S. economy has affected his business as well as the opening of the Best Buy store in Silverdale.

“Best Buy cut the pie and made it smaller,” Davies said, “but it’ll get better.”

Davies said he has seen a lot of smaller stores bought out by big chains. He said there is a company in Texas that has shown interest in Manette TV — but he and his wife aren’t selling.

Davies said the store sells a variety of brand names, including Sony, Zenith Digital, Panasonic and Samsung. They have in-house financing with a 90 days same as cash on approval of credit.

They are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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