Name: Mike Mlnarik
Business: Morro Bay Appliance
What he said then: In May 2010, Mike Mlnarik used a business loan from the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County to purchase Morro Bay Appliance from his parents.
The Tribune featured the business the following November.
Jim and Sherry Mlnarik bought the Main Street shop in 1990. Their son worked there 19 years before taking over.
Started 40 years ago as De Somers Appliance, the shop sells new washers, dryers, ovens, microwaves and stoves. It also offers reconditioned appliances and repair services.
What he says now: At a time when some local appliance stores are concerned about big box home stores and Internet vendors, Morro Bay Appliance relies on an old-fashioned willingness to make house calls.
“We’ve lowered our prices over the past two years,” Mlnarik said. But “it’s all about service. We’ll go to their house, measure their job for them. A lot of our clients aren’t able to leave the home.”
With an older demographic in the North Coast area, Mlnarik finds that a free in-home estimate can win a sale.
Meanwhile, reconditioned machines draw younger folks with smaller budgets.
The store’s territory extends from Los Osos to San Simeon, but Mlnarik admits he sometimes travels to Atascadero and San Luis Obispo.
“There’s always an exception to every rule and that’s how we do business,” he said. “We’re not making a million.”
But steady sales allowed him to add a part-time employee a few weeks ago. The store has three fulltimers, including the owner.
The most popular items right now are water-saving washing machines that earn rebates from Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
The Morro Bay store works with distributors like North Carolina-based Crosley, which specializes in supplying smaller shops and offers longer warranties.
Many area retailers have cut their stock of on-hand merchandise, but Mlnarik keeps his warehouse “stacked double high.” His goal is to make same-day delivery is possible.
“We have to have that deep inventory,” said Mlnarik, whose store and warehouse cover about 3,000 square feet.
“If someone says their refrigerator broke ,” he added, “I’ll try to be there today.”
His biggest concern is that he might suddenly lose his well-established Main Street location in favor of converting to smaller retail shops. Just in case, he keeps his eyes open for real estate options.
“Our building isn’t retrofitted,” he said. “When you move a business like this, it’s not good for business.”
On the other hand: “Buildings come open all the time.”