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People Clog Suburban Appliance Stores; Rebate Money Out In 2 Hours

By Kim Mikus | Daily Herald Staff

Appliance shoppers only had about two hours to shop Friday morning before all the stimulus money ran out for the Cash for Appliance rebate.

Customers lined up outside Abt Electronics

Hundreds of suburban residents in need of appliances were up early in attempts to capture discounts in part two of the rebate.

The state had $3 million in funds available for today's event. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website posted in big red letters that "Program closed as of 10:30 a.m."

Bargain hunters hit the stores early. At 7:30 a.m. there were about 150 people at the Sears store at Westfield Hawthorn in Vernon Hills. When they entered the store, that opened at 7 a.m., they were placed on a waiting list as employees were not able to start ringing up appliances until 8 a.m., per the rules of the Illinois Energy Star Appliance Rebate Day rules.

Shoppers started lining up at 4 a.m. at Abt Electronics in Glenview. A line wound around the outside of the building early this morning as the rain started to fall.

Many appliance stores opened early in an effort to serve customers and stimulate the economy.

As part of the statewide program, retailers offered an instant 15 percent discount to shoppers looking to replace dishwashers, freezers, washing machines or refrigerators with a new energy-efficient model. Shoppers were able to save up to $250.

The program was funded by federal stimulus money designed to pump cash into the economy and utilize more energy-efficient appliances. The first part of the appliance rebate took place in April and proved to be wildly popular.

The rebates were given on a first-come, first served basis at the time of checkout.

Illinois received $12.4 million in stimulus funds, and offered other rebates on water heaters and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems earlier in the year. Shoppers didn't empty the account, leaving the $3 million leftover that was grabbed up today.

Copyright © 2010 Paddock Publications, Inc.