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PG Used Appliances

PG Used Appliances is located in Lanham, MD and they serve the greater Washington DC metropolitan area which includes of course Prince George’s County where they are located.

Wide Selection

They have a broader range of appliances than most used appliance stores. This includes refrigerators, washers and dryers, stoves, dishwashers and microwaves. Most used appliance stores don’t carry dishwashers or microwaves. Continue reading “PG Used Appliances”

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Annapolis Clean Carpet

Annapolis Clean Carpet has been serving the Annapolis and Severna Park communities for the last twenty years. They consider themselves to be reasonably priced as a carpet cleaner, particularly for the job they do. Reasonably priced does not mean low-ball. The quality of their work is outstanding. Continue reading “Annapolis Clean Carpet”

J B Brown Associates

J B Brown Associates is located in Lutherville, MD although some might call it Timonium since it isn’t far from Timonium Rd. So, what is JB Brown? Sounds kind of like a law firm or an accounting firm but it isn’t.

Tax Assessment Appeals

J B Brown is a real estate consultant. Specifically, they help people appeal property tax assessments and get the property tax lowered. Now, before you get all excited and call them up about your house because you are tired of paying the hefty real estate taxes in Maryland, don’t call them. Why? Because they only deal with commercial properties.

Why No Residential, Only Commercial

The reason is because of how they get paid. They get paid when they are successful by receiving a percentage of the decrease in taxes that they won for you. The problem with residential real estate is that most houses aren’t that incorrectly valued so the savings and therefore their percentage isn’t very much. Plus, the value of the house is usually less than commercial property so that also holds down what they can make. Those two things combined mean that they usually lose money when they work on residential properties.

They have done work for us and saved us a lot of money over the years. They have an impressive client base that includes companies like Merritt Properties, Jim Koons Mgt, St. Joseph Hospital, Valley Motors and many more.

Storm Water Remediation Fee (Rain Tax) Appeals

Naturally, when Maryland adopted the “rain tax” this was a natural for J B Brown to incorporate into what they do. We haven’t used them for this, but considering how expensive this tax can be, the savings can be considerable.

Lease Audit & Property Management Consulting

Since J B Brown has been operating for 24 years, they have a lot of experience. Ben is a real estate investor himself and is very savvy about real estate. Although, their main focus is on the tax and rain water appeals, they also do lease audits and property management consulting. This makes sense since they have to value a property to appeal it and that involves getting a rent roll. Since they work with lots of landlords and property managers, they have seen best and worst practices over the years and can advise what to do or not do.

General Real Estate Consulting

They helped us with a problem. We had decided to sell a property that they had done tax appeals for. It wasn’t clear what the value was and they were able to help with that. In addition, they were able to suggest some possible buyers, but also made a key suggestion. That was that the property didn’t fit the typical profile that commercial brokers were looking for. Therefore Ben felt they wouldn’t push as hard. He knew several people who had had success by auctioning properties and suggested exploring that.

That is what we ultimately decided to do and were glad we did and that Ben made the suggestion. The property sold for almost double what we were expecting to get for it. Of course, there are no guarantees you will get those results if you auction a property.

In any case, we have dealt with J B  Brown for a number of years and find that they are honest, great to work with, and knowledgeable.

Lakein Jewelers

There is a small jewelry store in Hamilton, Lakein’s Jewelers, that I came across because of an article in the Baltimore Sun by Dan Rodricks. He said he got a watch fixed that others couldn’t.

A Story About a Watch

I had a watch that was given me by an old girlfriend just before we broke up. This was years ago. It never worked right and no one I took it to could fix it.

Since it was supposedly something like a $400 watch and that was over 20 years ago, it is probably worth a good bit more if it worked. Ironically, the watch is made by Hamilton. So I finally mailed it off to Hamilton to be repaired and they sent it back saying it was out of date and they didn’t have the parts.

So, having seen the article in the Sun, I took the watch to Lakein’s and they said they would see what they could do. A while later I picked up the watch and it was working. Still, I was dubious because the watch would sometimes seem to work for a short while and then go haywire again. It has been a couple of months now and it is working fine. First time ever.

Art Deco Style Store

The store looks like a throw back in that it looks art deco in style. However, it looks like it was done new in the art deco style and never changed.

Family Run

Lakein’s is family run and was started in 1913 and at one time had 4 stores in the Baltimore area and one in Florida. As different family members have died the different stores have closed leaving just the store on Harford Road in Hamilton.

The prices seem reasonable and they are very service oriented. They must be able to keep prices down because of low overhead. Stop by and see them sometime if you are in the area.

North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits

North Charles Fine Wine and Spirits is a liquor and wine store on Charles St. next to Eddie’s Grocery Store. The address is 6213a N. Charles St.

I used to only go there because it was convenient. It seemed overpriced to me and it catered to a very high end clientele, many of whom didn’t think twice about buying and drinking a $50 bottle of wine or a $200 bottle of Scotch.

Right now funds are a little tight so we are a bit more frugal than that. For everyday wine and cooking we get box wines. There are some good ones out there. One day I noticed that there box wine prices were several dollars lower than the discount wine store where we had been buying our box wine. That doesn’t seem like much but that was 20% or more cheaper. That is significant.

Eddie’s had a major overhaul with all new decor. Since the wine store is right next door, they were done over at the same time. They came up with a new system that is pretty nice.

On the lowest shelf are $10 bottles of wine. On the next shelf up are $15 bottles of wine. On the next shelf are $20 bottles and above that are $25 bottles. You don’t have some at $14 and some at $16 and $18. It makes selection very easy.

In speaking with the manager he said that a year or so ago they decided to drop their prices and make it up on volume. I now find that their prices are very competitive.

You probably get better prices on some of the bottles and a bit worse on others but it all balances out and makes selecting wine easier.

They also usually have a wine or two open every day for tasting and frequently one of the bottles is fairly expensive. There is a shorter guy whose palate I don’t always agree with. However there are a couple of other guys who seem to nail what I like.

And, if you need a wine as a pairing for a certain food, they usually have great suggestions. We wanted a wine to pair with an oyster stew and I was thinking a Muscadet. They suggested a Cremant sparkling wine (methode champenoise) that was absolutely perfect.

Another time I was looking for a wine to pair with a dessert that included marzipan. I was thinking a sauternes. They agreed in general but suggested a wine of the same style but from Bonnezeaux in the Loire Valley made from Chenin Blanc. They suggested it for two reasons. It is very good but doesn’t have the outrageous prices that the Sauternes do. Second is that is has a bit of a nutty flavor that would pair well with the almonds in the dessert. It was spectacular.

So drop in some time and check them out and see what you think.

 

Ayd Hardware

Ayd Hardware is a classic neighborhood hardware store. It is closer than Home Depot or Lowe’s for many people and you get much better service.

We had occasionally used it, but tended to go to Stebbins Anderson in the Shops at Kenilworth. They usually had the odd little things that we needed that you either couldn’t find at Home Depot or had to buy way more of than you needed.

Appropriate Sizes

For example, we recently needed some window glazing compound. The small, pint or half pint size we had had lasted and been used for years. There was so little left that it dried out and we needed some more. Home Depot no longer carries that small size and so we had to pay for a tub that was at least the size of a quart or perhaps a half gallon. That will last us for decades if not centuries. We will be willing it to our children. Why don’t they carry smaller sizes?

In any case, once Stebbins Anderson closed down it hardware section, we started going to Ayd Hardware. Great little place and more convenient than Stebbins was, at least for us.

Wide selection and Specialized Items Available

What was nice about Stebbins and is nice about Ayd is that for screws and bolts and nuts you can get exactly what you need and they don’t come in prepackaged plastic packages. Plus they have sizes that the large stores don’t carry.

Great Service

And service! The people there are knowledgeable and can help you with whatever you need, give you tips on how to do things to make the job easier, or make suggestions that you wouldn’t have thought of.

For example, if you need glass, they will cut you the size you need. If they have a scrap piece left over from cutting a larger sheet, they will see if they can cut your piece from that so you don’t have to pay as much. Its exactly the same glass, so they aren’t substituting something cheaper.

If you have a window pane that is a circle or has a curved edge, they can cut that as well.

So if you live anywhere near Stoneleigh, check them out. They are at 6801 York Rd. and their phone is 410-377-0220.