If you grew up in the '70s and '80s in Michigan, you know who Ollie Fretter was.

If he couldn't beat your best deal, he'd give you five pounds of coffee. Between Highland and Fretter appliances, that was our generation's ABC Warehouse and Art Van.

Electronics back in the day were much simpler: TVs, stereos and low-level video games.

Now, it's computers and smartphones and hi-definition $42,000 TV sets.

Fretter knew how to advertise and market. And for many years, he did just that.

Fretter started his company in the early 1950s as a single appliance repair shop. One of his first stores was in Redford Township. The company went public in 1986, and along with Highland Superstores and ABC Warehouse, was one of the Detroit area’s Big Three appliance and electronics chains. Through growth and acquisitions the firm expanded to a peak of more than 250 stores in several states by the early 1990s, under the names Fred Schmid, Fretter, Dash Concepts, Silo or Yes! About 60 stores carried the Fretter name itself. By 1987, Fretter stopped appearing in the chain’s TV spots as the company hired actor Robert Stack for more somber ad campaigns."

My trips to Highland and Fretter were basically divided into two categories: Cool video games at Highland; crappy video games at Fretter. Pretty simple.

R.I.P, Ollie Fretter.