Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Rebennack's Appliance: A west side tradition

Kingston business, under new ownership for past 11 years, continues to grow


Rebennack's Appliance in Kingston has been fixture in the community for decades. It is a place that, for several generations, dating back 70 years, people have gone to find all of their appliance needs. For the past 11years, however, the business has been under new ownership. And in that time, it has not only continued on, but has actually grown considerably.

Rebennack's, which was once a family business, is now owned by Jim Broda, a 35 year-old native of Pittston. He says when he first purchased the business 11 years ago, he saw it as a good opportunity, and so far, that has proven to be true.

"I was 25, and I worked at one of the distributors, and I used to deliver appliances to Rebennack's," says Broda. "At the time, I was starting to buy real estate, but I delivered appliances as my full-time job, and at some point, I realized Rebennack's was about to close, because the owner was about to retire. I went in and made them an offer."

Broda says that after some wheeling and dealing, an agreement was made. And over the past years 11 years, he has not simply carried the torch of a long-standing west side business, he's expanded it and made it grow.

"I've just worked at it, and now we're a couple-of-million-dollars-a-year company," he says. "We went from displaying about $30,000 (worth of merchandise) on the floor to close to $200,000. I own my own building, my inventory and my trucks. That's where we're at, almost 11 years later."

Rebennack's employs between six to nine people, depending on the season. Its inventory includes washers, dryers, stoves, dishwashers and smaller specialty appliances. Broda often puts in long days, but he's not complaining. In fact, he says the success of the business has helped him pursue other interests.

"It's a challenge, which I do enjoy, " he says. "It's neat owning something that you can take care of. I have different financial goals from when I started. I'm
getting heavily into investing – retirement funds and a lot of things, and this is supporting that. It's a challenge every day to come in and hit numbers to feed my investments."

Broda, of course, has become an expert on all appliances. Have any question about a product? He'll know the answer.

"I'm here every day, seven days a week, whether it's for a couple of hours or 12 hours," he says. "I know the products in and out. I go to all of the seminars regularly, from here to Chicago to all of the major hubs, where we go right to the (manufacturer's) main facilities. About 90-percent of our floor is 'Made in America.' And that's easy to do with the Whirlpool family, as they have about five brands under them. We display about 200 pieces on the floor. We have almost 50 refrigerators on display and probably 30 washers and dryers.”

 Interestingly, only about a year after Broda bought the business, a Lowe's opened only about a mile away. And though that could have spelled doom for a smaller, locally owned and operated company, Broda says it's been a blessing.

"My workers said to me 'What are we going to do?',' and I said 'Keep working.' That all we could do," he says. "When Lowe's opened their doors, the first day, we were checking the doors to make sure we didn't forget to lock them, and picking up the receiver to make sure there was a dial tone. There was no business that day. It was dead. Not a single call. Not a single footprint coming through that door. The next day, which was a Sunday, we were over-inundated, and that's when we started extending our Sunday hours. People were going to Lowe's, and coming to us with model numbers and prices, and we were beating them, and they were buying on the spot. Lowe's helped fuel our business. It brought the Gateway and Narrows Shopping Centers back, and it brought business back to Wyoming Ave."

Broda, who lives with his wife, Kim, in Plains, says he truly appreciates his customers and that the business had led to many

"We have people that just stop in regularly to chit-chat," he says. ""Almost all of my personal friends have come from the business, from all walks of life."

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pine Hill Lodge noting 45th anniversary under same ownership

Restful Mount Pocono facility is located in the center of many Pocono attractions


For a place with such a rich history, Pine Hill Lodge is certainly not a place focused on the past. It is all about making new memories for families and friends.

The stately and charming three-story home, which was built in 1875, continues to serve as a restful getaway retreat for hundreds of people each year. And with 16 rooms, including 11 bedrooms, visiting groups often range from family reunions to church outings. George Bostany, 83, purchased the lodge in 1971 and is thus celebrating his 45th anniversary of owning and operating the facility. Bostany, a native of Brooklyn, said he has always enjoyed Mount Pocono.

“My parents came here when I was 17 or 18,” said Mr. Bostany. “They used to rent a place not far from here. This was back in the ‘40s. And I loved this place. It was different from Brooklyn. It was really country then. And I guess I got used to it. Later, with my wife and my kids, we started coming up on weekends and staying at different hotels and motels. That’s why we picked the Poconos. I knew the place.”

Bostany said Pine Hill Lodge was first brought to his attention by his late father, who knew that his son was interested in the area and had seen that the home was for sale. He was 39 years old at the time, he had four children, and he aspired to having a “nice country life.” And so, he bought it. From 1971 to 1978, he commuted between Brooklyn, where he owned a television repair business, and Mount Pocono, where he oversaw the lodge. Finally, in 1978, after selling the family home in Brooklyn, he purchased a home in Mount Pocono not far from the lodge, took a job as a technician at the Tobyhanna Army Depot, and relocated his family.

“I liked the size of it,” said Mr. Bostany, when asked what first appealed to him about the lodge. He added that he’s always enjoyed repair and restoration work and that maintaining the facility has been a welcome challenge.

George Bostany purchased the Pine Hill Lodge in 1971
“Keeping it alive, and renovating it, and to bringing it back to how it was originally was nice,” he said. “It’s been a good life for me.”

Bostany, a veteran of the Korean War, lost his wife of 53 years, Marlene, in 2014. He has four grown children: Christine Nafash, Lisa Butowsky, George Bostany and Donna Bostany. After 45 years, he said he is now open to the idea of putting the lodge on the market and selling it to the right buyer.

“I‘d like to find a family to buy it, or someone that would like to continue doing this,” he said. “Someone could run it as a bed and breakfast, or convert it into six- family apartment, or a restaurant, or buy it as an investment. It’s also ideal for someone to just continue doing what I’m doing.”

Pine Hill Lodge is a member of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau and the Monroe County Historical Association. It is located 30 minutes from Scranton, 50 minutes from Wilkes-Barre and 90 minutes from New York. It can accommodate up to 23 people overnight and up to 30 in total. It is rented to private groups only, so those groups that stay there have the entire facility to themselves. In addition to 11 bedrooms, there is also a large living room with a stone fireplace, two dining rooms and a large fully-equipped kitchen. And for now, despite the possibility of a sale, it’s business as usual and bookings for summer getaways have begun. To note its 45th anniversary under the same ownership, special rates are being offered.

George Bostany and his daughter, Donna.
Bostany’s daughter, Donna, who currently assists him with bookings, said that as more and more attractions continue to be developed in the Poconos, Pine Hill Lodge continues to be a perfect place to visit.

“We see people leaving their crazy/busy lives behind for a weekend and enjoying nature,” said Ms. Bostany. “There’s so much nature here. There’s a hammock, so you can sleep between two trees and take the world off of your shoulders and enjoy the clouds or the constellations. The wrap-around porch is nice for families, and we’re in the middle of horseback riding, fishing, hiking and swimming areas.  It’s a place where families can talk to each other. They cook here, and they’re all under one roof. You know where your kids are. There’s a ping-pong table, and meanwhile people are playing cards in the dining room, or they’re outside at the barbecue. You can make your own fun here on the premises, with shuffleboard, or soccer on the lawn, or the wooded nature trails. There’s also so much antiquing here, and you can go to Mount Airy for the casino, or for comedy shows and bands, or Kalahari for swimming. We’re also in the heart of the ski resort area.

“There are all kinds of things to do.”

(For information on Pine Hill Lodge, call (570) 839-8060. It can also be found on Facebook.)  


This story originally appeared in The Pocono Times in Monroe County. It also appeared in the Journal of the Pocono Plateau in Monroe County and The Westside Bulletin in Luzerne County. And it has been shared on Twitter by the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau media page.