Nearly 500 people lined up outside of Omaha's Nebraska Furniture Mart on July 6, waiting to get ENERGY STAR washing machines, dishwashers and refrigerators on the first day of Nebraska's Appliance Rebate Program.
Inside the store, Jim McGinn, sales manager for appliances, and staff went over last minute details about the Nebraska Appliance Rebate Program. Armed with loads of information about ENERGY STAR appliances, the staff opened the store two hours early to start handling the crowds.
"We're use to big crowds on certain days throughout the year," said McGinn. "This one came big, and lasted big. It's been really successful for us."
Nebraska Furniture Mart is one of many businesses participating in the Appliance Rebate Program across the state. The program offers rebates ranging from $100 to $250 on air conditioners, heat pumps, refrigerators, furnaces, clothes washing machines and dishwashers. The program, which opened on July 6, will continue until the state’s $1.5 million worth of funds is depleted. In the afternoon of the first day, the Energy Office transferred $220,000 in program funds to rebates due to consumer demand.
"Nebraskan consumers are going into Nebraskan businesses. This is something that benefits residents and retailers," says Ginger Langemeier, director of Nebraska's State Energy Office. "There are all kinds of opportunities for all kinds of products. We think it'll really benefit residents across the state."
Before the program started, the Nebraska Energy Office spoke with and surveyed a variety of Nebraska retailers to get an idea of what products were popular, which would be the most beneficial and the easiest way for the rebates to be organized.
"We got a lot of great feedback," said Langemeier. "It was a very helpful step in the process."
Businesses see the benefits
Businesses are already seeing an upside from the program. McGinn estimates that Nebraska Furniture Mart did between 15 and 20 percent of their normal business in a month on July 6 alone. It was their highest gross sales day since the store opened in 1937.
"It's been a great shot in the arm economically," he said.
In addition to having extra staff members work on opening day, the store also coordinated with manufacturers to order additional appliances that met the state's requirements.
McGinn and the store held training sessions for the staff to learn more about those ENERGY STAR products. McGinn hopes the training will carry over into post-rebate program sales.
"It's helped the staff get in tune with ENERGY STAR, and has given them the ability to reinforce with our customers that ENERGY STAR really benefits them in the long run," he said.
Business hasn't slowed much since the rebates started on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the store saw its third highest grossing day.
State director Langemeier is urging Nebraskans to take advantage of the rebates while they last. Rebates are on a first-come, first-served basis, and the program will close when funds are depleted.
"This money goes right into the hands of Nebraskans," said Langemeier.