Our Towns

Phone Keeps Ringing at Bonita’s Way Appliance

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Three years ago, Jim Durkin was searching for space that could accommodate his idea for a business, to recondition and resell old appliances.

The suburbs commanded rent that was too pricey for his startup, Durkin recalls, while buildings on the north, south and east sides didn’t fit his needs.

Then, he stumbled upon a storefront at 2032 Mahoning Ave. recently made vacant when a thrift store closed.

“This was perfect,” he says of the West Side address that houses his business, Bonita’s Way Appliance Center.

“Business is great” he reports, “we can’t keep appliances in the store.”

So good, in fact, that Durkin says he’s anticipating a major expansion over the next five years.

“I’m hoping to have seven locations by then,” says Durkin, who employs seven others at Bonita’s. One possible location, he relates, would sell only new appliances.

“We refurbish old and sell new stoves, refrigerators, washers, dryers, dishwashers, freezers and air conditioners,” he says.

Durkin named the business for his mother, Bonita, who died shortly before he started the company.  Her death was the impetus that inspired him.

“I saw the demand for something like this, and I saw what other people were charging, and I saw their flaws,” Durkin says.

The company also performs service work for big-box retailers such as Lowe’s, Home Depot and Sears.

Among the biggest challenges in starting a business such as his in this region is finding skilled technicians who possess the aptitude and ability to repair appliances, Durkin says.

He conducts training classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays in his shop for those interested in learning how to repair or recondition older appliances.

Most customers who come in or call have an idea of what they want, Durkin says, and then it’s up to him to find an appliance at a price they’re willing to pay. “They want the biggest savings that they can get,” he says. “Customers really want the best deal, and we offer a one-year warranty. Generally speaking, the phone doesn’t quit ringing.”

Pictured: Three years after opening Bonita’s Way Appliance Center, Jim Durkin already has eyes on expansion. Within five years, he aims to have seven locations in the Mahoning Valley.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.