For the past 45 years, Bob Coccia has sold appliances to Bayside residents in his brick-and-mortar store.
But now the shop owner is going into “semi-retirement” and shutting down operations at Bob Coccia’s Appliance and Mattress Center, located at 215-03 Horace Harding Expwy. According to Coccia, he hopes to close the Bayside Hills store by the end of November.
“I’m still gonna be selling appliances,” said Coccia. “I’m still gonna be available to my customers and I’m gonna send out notifications to them and letting them know what I’m doing.” A few days a week he will be selling appliances a friend’s business in Seaford out on Long Island.
The 75-year-old Ozone Park native and current Bayside resident has been in the business his entire life, first working with his father to spray and refinish appliances for manufacturers. He then opened his own small shop where he sold “scratched and dented” appliances, eventually expanding and selling brand new models.
In addition to on-the-job experience, much of what Coccia learned was from joining a buying cooperative called Intercounty Appliance. Through the group, he was able to learn industry secrets and became trusted in the community.
“With that group, I was able to buy large product at the same price, if not better, than what the big guys do. That made me competitive on selling appliances and which will continue on for me now,” he said.
He added that the customers would often give him appliance model numbers and he was always able to “beat the prices that were out there.”
But Coccia said he has felt the internet’s effects in recent years, sharing that running the business is not how it used to be.
“Most people shop online today, I don’t get the foot traffic that I used to have,” Coccia told QNS. “I do 70 percent of my things on the phone, and then 30 percent or less come into the store and wanna buy. To pay all the expenses of keeping two stores open like this is not worth it.”
He recalled telling fellow business owner Joe Lamel of Posner’s Hardware & Locksmith that he was going out of business. Lamel owned the 80 year old shop since 1974 and also recently announced they were shutting down.
“We’ve been part of the neighborhood for a million years. Joe and I were both crying together a couple of weeks ago telling each other that we’re closing,” he said.
His favorite memories over the past 45 years involved the community that he’s loved and served his whole life, both through his store and also through his active participation at his local church.
“I’m a trustee at St. Robert Bellarmine Church here and on the finance committee. I’ve been involved with a million things. It’s been great to be around here and be able to help people at the same time,” Coccia said.