Rock County Appliance to close

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Marcia Nelesen
Tuesday, July 23, 2013

JANESVILLE--After 40 years on the downtown corner of Court and Main streets, Rock County Appliance is closing its doors.

Owners Dave Grosenick, 62, and his 65-year-old brother Don Jr., also known as Bud, said all their children have successful careers and no interest in taking over the business.

“It's time to retire and see the world a little bit,” Dave Grosenick said.

“Business has been very good for us. We've been very fortunate to have a solid base of great customers and were blessed with super employees.”

The business has 11 full- and part-time employees. Grosenick said they are working to find jobs for as many as they can.

The partners will sell the service center to longtime employee Niles Olson.

The retail store will close when the inventory is gone, and Grosenick guessed that might be in September.

The brothers' father, Donald, opened Rock County Appliance at 222 W. Milwaukee St. in 1962. Inventory was warehoused in the Mulrooney building, now the Speakeasy Lounge and Restaurant.

When the Janesville Mall opened in the early 1970s, Rock County Appliance moved to its current location, which had been the downtown home of JCPenney.

“When we purchased this building, we had four storefronts on Milwaukee Street, plus we were renting the warehouse,” Grosenick said. “This was a very logical move for us.”

The new space had about 10,000 square feet of retail space, including in a building next door.

The building was constructed between the late 1840s and 1860s, Grosenick said. It  initiallywas the Court Street Methodist Church, with retail space on the first floor and a church on the top three floors. The cathedral still has pews in the balcony.

When it opened downtown, Rock County Appliance sold televisions and appliances.

“The appliance end of it grew and, as a matter of fact, pushed television out the door about 10 years ago,” Grosenick said.

The brothers also bought a commercial refrigeration company,  Douglas Refrigeration, about 20 years ago.

Grosenick said business has remained good over the years, despite the downturn in downtown business and the periodic recessions.

“Just like any business, you constantly reevaluate your position in the market,” Grosenick said. “But with the volume that we generated here, we did not think that we would generate enough additional volume to be located out there (on Milton Avenue) to cover the additional expense.”

It isn't unusual for an independent appliance store to be located downtown and away from other chain stores, he said.

“A refrigerator is generally not an impulse item,” Grosenick said.

“So if you have good products, good service, parking and accessibility, you don't have to be on the busiest street in town.”

“We've been a debt-free company for years,” Grosenick said. “We've worked real hard at it.”

Still, the decision is bittersweet.

“It's always been an interesting business. I never walked in wishing I was somewhere else.”

“Bud and I are both excited to go on to the next phase and take it from there,” Grosenick said.

“It's been a good run.”

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