What We Saw At World of Whirlpool in Chicago

Village Home Stores sales team visits the World of Whirlpool facilities in Chicago IL for product training.

Last week we were invited to join a few other Illinois sales teams from small businesses like ours at the World of Whirlpool training facilities in Downtown Chicago, IL. Our commitment to ongoing product training is why our customers find such an added value in working with Village Home Stores. There are new features introduced all of the time and it is our passion to help you find the right appliances for your budget and your lifestyle. We also want to be available to help you use your new appliances confidently once you have them installed. Training events like this keep our team savvy and knowledgeable for you.

White and black kitchen with Sunset Bronze appliances in the World of Whirlpool experience center in Chicago, IL
The Village Home Stores team visited the World of Whirlpool experience for immersive appliance product training in Chicago, IL.

We try and send our team to product training 1-2 times a year but we have never experienced a training quite like the one we had last week! Two full days of hands-on product demonstrations and chances everywhere we went to use and experiment with the features we were learning about. Product training in the appliance industry is not just about learning what the new finishes and features are, tech in the kitchen has completely changed the game!

Smart Home And Connected Kitchen Tech

Village Home Stores team is excited to be on board with all of these exciting ways you can add tech to your own home kitchen experience. Scan-to-cook, voice control timers and settings, and ingredient recognition. These are not “kitchen of the future” terms, they are available right now! Many of the appliance models we trained on from Maytag, KitchenAid, and Whirlpool have “connected” features. Whirlpool has launched an entire line of connected appliance products and they had a huge kitchen setup installed for our team to explore and train with.

The Village Home Stores appliance team learning about the latest and greatest in smarthome appliances.
The Village Home Stores appliance team learning about the latest and greatest plus what’s to come with smarthome appliances.

I was really excited to train on and operate all of the new Whirlpool Smart Appliances. We learned so many ways they can help simplify our lives

-Tammy Clark, Appliance Expert at Village Home Stores
Tablet connected to smart appliances from Whirlpool
The Village Home Stores appliance team gets hands-on training with Whirlpool’s smarthome connected appliances.

Getting this hands-on training with models we don’t typically get to see and use is a priceless opportunity for our team. Connected appliances are new to everyone so we are just as intrigued and curious as you! The apps and screens on the appliances are all very easy to use and give you options for how you are guided to use them. You can even favorite recipes and settings so that your appliances can adapt to you personally and help to simplify your life.

Hands-On Appliance Training

Chef Ann Nolan teaches some of our team how easy it is to use and clean the chrome-infused griddles on our KitchenAid products.
Chef Ann Nolan teaches some of our team how easy it is to use and clean the chrome-infused griddles on our KitchenAid products.

Resident Chef for Whirlpool brands Ann Nolan trained us on the chrome-infused griddles found on our KitchenAid commercial-style cooking products. We learned about the many benefits of this even-heat griddle including how easy it is to clean. There is no “seasoning” to worry about and we saw first hand that the non-porous surface cleans up very easily! Have a chrome-infused griddle from us? Check out this quick video Chef Ann made showing you the steps to clean it up easily.

Chef Ann Nolan teaching how to clean the griddle surface after use.
Chef Ann Nolan teaches some of our team how easy it is to clean the griddle surface after use.

Wall Ovens Guaranteed to “FIT”

Our team trained heavily on freestanding ranges and wall ovens beginning with a refresh of the FIT System Install Guarantee. Did you know that with the FIT system you can replace your existing 27″ or 30″ wide wall ovens and Whirlpool guarantees it will fit in your existing opening!? That is some valuable piece of mind when shopping. We had a chance to install a wall oven using the versatile FIT brackets and trim kit just to try it out!

A group training with the FIT system risers and trim kits for wall oven installs
The FIT system for wall ovens. This system of trim kits and risers guarantee that replacement wall ovens in standard 27″ and 30″ widths will work in existing openings.

Ice, Ice, Baby!

My favorite part of training was the undercounter icemaker. It was cool to see the difference between ice from that versus an ice dispenser in a refrigerator. Also, the pizza was awesome.

-Seth Owen, Appliance Expert at Village Home Stores
Row of undercounter appliances from KitchenAid installed in a kitchen island.
For those who love to cook and entertain, KitchenAid offers a wide variety of undercounter appliances. Beverage coolers, icemakers, and even drawer refrigeration units.

The pizza Seth is referencing was our off-site event for the evening. The Whirlpool Corporation took us on a Chicago Pizza Tour and it was an absolute dream! If you are looking for a fun and unusual way to see the city, (and if you can throw down on at least 2 lbs. of pizza in a few hours), we highly recommend it! But back to that icemaker Seth was talking about. Who wouldn’t love restaurant quality ice in your own home? Doesn’t that sound amazing? Ice is the only element you can add to something that elevates the experience without altering the flavor! They showed us what a different Clear Ice can make! Press play below to see this fun exercise we did comparing Clear Ice to regular ice from the freezer:

The KitchenAid Clear Ice in these undercounter models produce the most preferred ice in the industry! These icemakers are available in 15″ and 18″ wide models and they come backed by a 2 year warranty. They can be ordered panel-ready to give a built-in look for your kitchen design and the articulating door hinge allows it to be installed flush with the cabinetry and not stick out. We had some extensive cooktop training on both gas and induction cooktops which led to a very important training topic: ventilation!

KitchenAid Ultra Power Dual-Flame Burner showing flame location on pan.
KitchenAid Ultra Power Dual-Flame Burner showing flame location on pan.

Kitchen Ventalation

Are you a serious home chef? Have you ever burned something in the kitchen? If you answered yes to either of those questions, you know how important kitchen ventilation is. Proper ventilation can help you filter heat, odor, grease, and smoke from your cooking space. A great new feature just launched is the Auto Turn On option on some vent hoods. This allows you to take the guesswork out of when to use your hood because it will just turn on when needed. We were blown away by this demo we experienced showcasing ventalation options from the KitchenAid Commercial line. Press play below to see some boosted vent power:

That is a 20 lb. cabinet door and just a 600CFM hood!!! Not even the most powerful hood we have available. Have questions about how much CFM power you need? Our team will work with you to pair your cook surface’s BTU’s and consider the location and your cooking habits when helping you select the right ventilation investment for your kitchen. A few months ago we met Chef Ann Nolan in Nashville and she was showcasing a brand new product on the EXPO floor of that show. Last week we were able to dive into more detailed training for it.

KitchenAid SmartOven+ with Powered Attachments

Wall oven with KitchenAid Smart Oven+ and Powered Attachments
The KitchenAid Smart Oven+ and Powered Attachments. Shown stacked to store inside of the oven cavity.

The KitchenAid SmartOven+ with Powered Attachments is one of the most exciting new appliance products we have seen in years! This wall oven can be used for standard baking and convection baking… but plug one of these powered attachments in and you have the ability to crisp, steam, and even grill in your wall oven! If you love the cooking process this wall oven will take your time in the kitchen to a whole new level. Imagine steaming an entire meal in a single pan, or making 3 racks or ribs any time of the year!?! There are even pre-programmed recipes in the wall oven to encourage you to experiment with your new attachments and they guide you through the entire process. You can even set a “flip” reminder for your burgers! You can read more about the SmartOven+ and see Chef Ann grilling with it here in a past blog post.

Matte Black KitchenAid mixer shown with many front attachments.
What inspired the new Smart Oven system from KitchenAid with powered attachments? The front port KitchenAid mixer of course!

One thing we learned last week that really stuck with us about this wall oven product is the inspiration for it. The KitchenAid stand mixer is iconic. Not just within the Whirlpool brands of products, but in kitchens across the globe. What makes the stand mixer successful and has kept it relevant all of these years is the ability to add new and exciting attachments to any mixer base. The front port of a stand mixer (see above) can transform to suit so many tasks. That same concept was what drove the design of the port for the powered attachments of this SmartOven+ unit. The base “plugs” into the back of the wall oven and you stack whatever attachment you are using on top. A gravity-close cover seals the opening when an attachment isn’t in use.

Some KitchenAid Smart Oven+ Powered Attachments have sloped backs for utensils to push against edge without losing ingredients off the side.
Some KitchenAid Smart Oven+ Powered Attachments have sloped backs for utensils to push against edge without losing ingredients off the side.

Another exciting thing about this product is that KitchenAid included Chef Ann in the conversation while developing this product! She was able to make design notes and suggestions (like the sloped back wall of the grill pan and baking stone for utensil use) and she even developed the recipes programmed into the unit! Do you love being the first in your family or neighborhood to have fun and exiting new things but worry they will become outdated? Don’t worry here! Any powered attachment KitchenAid launches moving forward will work with this wall oven unit. And yes, there are others in the works!

Matte black KitchenAid gas range in Imperial Black finish installed in an on trend kitchen with open shelves and copper accents.
Matte black KitchenAid gas range in Imperial Black finish.

The entire facility at World of Whirlpool was absolutely incredible. Both days we were treated to a chefs tasting 3 course lunch all prepared in the test kitchens on site. There were so many beautiful displays and believe it or not, we didn’t even see everything there even after two days of training! We don’t want to share every single detail from our trip because we will be unpacking some of these things in more detail on upcoming episodes of the Village Home Show.

Seth and Tammy explore the Maytag test kitchen at World of Whilpool in Chicago, IL
Seth and Tammy explore the Maytag test kitchen.

Our team also trained on Maytag products, all brands of dishwashers, refrigeration, baking drawers, the new low-profile microwaves, laundry products and more! See and learn more about the low-profile microwave hoods here in a past blog post. Tammy even got to snap a selfie with the Maytag Man!

Tammy poses with the Maytag Man at the selfie station.

We trained on Whirlpool and Maytag laundry products and even saw the single unit Smart All-In-One Washer/Dryer from Whirlpool! This slim, ventless unit can be installed almost anywhere! Think how amazing it would be to wash a load right in your master closet! Learn more and shop this model here at villagehomestores.com

Maytag front-load laundry pair on pedestals installed in a farmhouse inspired laundry room with subway tile and a farm sink
Maytag front-load laundry pair on pedestals installed in a farmhouse inspired laundry room. Maytag appliances available to the Quad Cities region with our Local Low Price Guarantee at Village Home Stores.

The building where World of Whirlpool us located is a landmark in itself! The Reid Murdoch Building is a historic and important building in the river-facing skyline of Downtown Chicago. We got a tour of the top clocktower one sunny afternoon and the views were amazing! It was such a busy and informative training trip but we had such a great group to train with! It is always so much fun to meet teams from stores just like ours who value the customer experience and seek to provide the best service and products for their neighbors.

A view of the Reid Murdoch Building and a look inside the Whirlpool Clocktower room and terrace on top.
A view of the Reid Murdoch Building and a look inside the Whirlpool Clocktower room and terrace on top.

The training and hospitality we were given from the Whirlpool Corporation was top-notch. We can’t thank them enough for including our store in this training opportunity. It is our honor to continue to earn our title of the Quad Cities Regional experts on appliances. If you are shopping for appliances and are not quite sure what is right for you, reach out to our team! There are hundreds of products out there and we can help you narrow your options down to what is right for you and your budget. If you have questions or would like for one of our team members to prepare a quote for you, just complete this short form online and we will be in touch. We can’t wait to hear what you are working on!

Appliance staff training at World of Whirlpool

New Product News From Summit 2019

Village Home Stores shares what new and exciting things shown on the Better Together Summit Expo floor in Nashville TN. - VillageHomeStores.com

We just returned from a whirlwind of a weekend in Nashville, TN where we attended a summit held by our BrandSource buying group. Events like these are so valuable to our small business because we are able to connect and learn from other stores similar to Village. By making these connections, we can learn together and educate ourselves in ways to make YOUR Village experience even better! Village Home Stores is a BrandSource member so that we can offer our customers prices competitive with the big box stores paired with a customer experience that is the very best out there.

Village Home Stores is an AVB Brandsource member. This buying group gives us a competitive edge for pricing and opportunities to give our customers the best experience available. Better Together Summit in Nashville TN. | VillageHomeStores.com

Connecting with other stores and service offices and sharing our stories allows us to all be “Better Together” (which was actually the title of this year’s summit event). We spent our days learning about ways we can better this customer experience for you in store and online. We also spent many many hours training on the new product launches announced for our Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid and Amana brands. We saw a LOT of exciting new things this weekend so we thought we would share a recap about these new and exciting products, some of which are already en route to the Village showroom. Here is a peek at what Tammy, Rob, and Elizabeth saw in Music City!

Village Home Stores shares exciting product news from the expo floor at the 2019 AVB Brandsource BetterTogetherSummit in Nashville TN | villagehomestores.com

A Smart Wall Oven You Can Grill In!

The new product launch that carried the most “buzz” around the show was KitchenAid’s new Smart Oven with Powered Attachments. Available in a single, double, and combination microwave / wall oven, this wall oven series has truly elevated the use for any home cook that loves the process and full experience of cooking at home. For the Village Home Stores customers who loves to cook , you are going to want to press play below to see some sneak peeks from the show floor…

Yes! That is in fact a grill attachment that can be used indoors! There are two other powered attachments that come with this smart oven, but we have to begin with the grill. A base with heating elements connects to the wall oven and atop that, the grill attachment “caps” the coils to create a grill surface. This patent-pending design minimizes smoke that can be created by flares when grease hits the coil. With the coils encased, this grill attachment makes the Midwest year-round grilling dream a reality!

The KitchenAid smart oven with powered attachments allow you to grill year round indoors! The grill coils are covered by the top plate so that grease will not drip down onto the coils to cause smoking. | villagehomestores.com

Smart Ovens come with three powered attachments: a grill, a steamer, and an element-heated baking stone. Of course we must add that of course the Smart Oven can be used as a standard bake oven and also includes convection features and assisted convection conversion. You can use this versatile wall oven with or without the powered attachments. Have you ever used a baking stone? The biggest issue is that you are supposed to preheat that stone reeeeeally far ahead of using it to get the best results. With the powered baking stone attachment resting right on top of the elements, you can skip that step all together! Get consistent, and crisp results on a stone that can fit up to a 14″ pizza.

KitchenAid's smart oven comes with 3 powered attachments for grilling, steaming, or baking stone use. | villagehomestores.com

The steam attachments are also incredible! Any serious home-chef knows that cooking with steam helps to infuse moisture and added flavor that can’t be matched! This powered attachment can fit enough sides and meat to feed a family of four all in one pan! You can even use this attachment to cook with the steam pan and no lid in the “steam assist” mode. The steamer is dishwasher-safe and can easily clean up with soap and water.

Steam attachment for the KitchenAid smart oven with powered attachment. Feed a family of four with only using one pan! | villagehomestores.com

This wall oven is like a home-chef’s Swiss army knife. It has so many features all packed into one location in a kitchen! Being able to prepare such a flavorful meal all in one pan for a last-minute small dinner party sounds like a dream! You can prepare the meat, vegetables, pasta, all in one pan! The pre-programmed recipes for the steam attachment all sound like a delicious way to learn how to use your new oven!

-Elizabeth Round, Village Team Member
KitchenAid's steam attachment for the smart oven is dishwasher safe and can be used with or without the lid. | villagehomestores.com

Imagine being able to grill indoors during the entire Winter season we have just endured! Seeing how the grill coils were wrapped with the top casing, now I understand how there was virtually no smoke involved while Chef Ann was making so many burgers in that wall oven!

-Tammy Clark, Village Team Member
KitchenAid's smart oven comes with 3 powered attachments for grilling, steaming, or baking stone use. | villagehomestores.com

Recipe Guidance and Connectivity:

We really wish this blog had a scratch-and-sniff feature so you could smell those incredible sirloin chorizo burgers Chef Ann was grilling up! Ann showed us as she was working how the recipe guide mode walks you through each step. She even got a notification on her phone as she was talking to us that it was time to flip the burgers over.

KitchenAid's smart oven with recipe guide. On-screen tutorials help users get comfortable with their new powered attachments. 3 recipes for each attachment available. | villagehomestores.com

That notification to flip the burgers is a great example of how connected smart home appliances can help keep your busy household on track to a great meal. Imagine having guests over while entertaining in your back patio and getting a notification on your Apple watch that the oven is preheated, or your meal timer is ending. The WiFi and app features rolling out with KitchenAid all are there to help give you the best experience AND results while cooking in your kitchen.

A New Look For Commercial Ranges!

We were also able to take a peek at the redesign of the commercial ranges from KitchenAid. These units now pair better with other KitchenAid items as a suite with handles and include great new options for accent colors (shown below in “Navy”)

KitchenAid Commercial Range redesign with connected WiFi features shown on the expo floor at the 2019 AVB Brandsource BetterTogetherSummit in Nashville TN | villagehomestores.com

I’m really excited to see this redesign for the commercial ranges. Now the handles can better match the rest of the kitchen suite and the connected features added are great! I would love the remote-enabled option to preheat and monitor my oven as I am leaving work headed home.

-Rob Ries, Co-Owner of Village Home Stores
Yummly app with Whirlpool Connected Appliances demo from the expo floor at the 2019 AVB Brandsource BetterTogetherSummit in Nashville TN | villagehomestores.com

Smart home tech is not just limited to our KitchenAid line of product. The first to introduce connected appliances was Whirlpool and they continue to add to their connected appliance features. Whirlpool has added even more connected models and the Yummly partnership has proven to be a very great integration. If you aren’t familiar with it, Yummly is an extremely popular recipe search engine that allows you to search for recipes online that fit within your own dietary restrictions and ingredient availability! Now you can take that found recipe one step further by sending the recipe directly to your smart appliances for instruction.

As you can see in the video above, Yummly users can even image-capture the physical items you have on hand and search recipes online. The Whirlpool and Yummly features have now been available for some time and they keep getting better and better!

Maytag’s New Cast Iron Finish!

Village co-owner Rob Ries checks out the new Maytag Cast Iron finish shown on the expo floor at the 2019 AVB Brandsource BetterTogetherSummit in Nashville TN

We had heard Maytag may be rolling out a new finish but didn’t realize we would have a chance to see it in person so soon! Seeing the new “Cast Iron” color was exciting! This finish is a more rugged, darker look than our Black Stainless products. Cast Iron is a matte black finish without the brushed look of a Black Stainless. This new finish, on the sturdy, dependable Maytag line is a great look! Speaking of sturdy and dependable, how about a Maytag dryer so large and strong dealers were climbing into it!

Maytag dryers so large and durable that dealers can CLIMB into them! Image Via AVB Brandsource Team.
Maytag dryers so large and durable that dealers can CLIMB into them! Image Via AVB Brandsource Team.

Laundry Features Fit For a King!

Now that’s a capacity and commercial-grade parts illustration we loved seeing in action! We were also glad to not have to climb in ourselves to get the point across to you. Large capacity with the best cleaning in the industry is a major need for many of our Village Home Stores laundry customers. How about a large-capacity agitator washer that can a fit king-sized comforter!? We saw it with our own eyes!

A Maytag large capacity top load washer with agitator that fits a king-sized comforter! | villagehomestores.com

Now of course we should mention that while this washer boasts a large capacity and great cleaning action… it is very large itself! Please work closely with your Village Home Stores appliance team to make sure you have the space to get this washer and dryer pair into your home and in place. There was great news from the Whirlpool laundry products including many changes to the front load lines. The Load & Go system of pre-loading detergent can now store up to 40 loads of laundry detergent. If you use our Excelsior HE product, that is more like 60-120 loads because our detergent is 6x concentrated. Our staff can help show you how to enter that info as you load your detergent and then you will be all set for many months without even refilling.

The new load-and-go system in the Whirlpool frontload laundry line allows you to pre-load even more loads of detergent to make laundry easier! | villagehomestores.com

We saw so much more than we can get to in this recap (and don’t worry we did manage to see a lot of great live music too while in Nashville). We look forward to featuring some of these new features in upcoming projects here on the blog. Of course you can shop our appliances online, anytime at villagehomestores.com but you may also stop by our showroom to see us in person. Thank you to BrandSource for the incredible business workshops and training this weekend. We are thrilled to partner with other businesses to offer the competitive prices and award-winning service experience they expect from Village Home Stores. We truly are better together.

Village Home Stores recaps the trip to the Better Together Summit 2019 in Nashville TN. - VillageHomeStores.com