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Connellsville chamber to honor Craig Appliance and Furniture

| Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Gene Craig worked for Don Burdette of Dawson selling appliances in the 1950s. Gene Craig owned a pool hall in Normalville where he was born and raised.

Burdette wanted to put his appliances in Normalville, so he put them in the pool hall building to be sold from that location. When Gene Craig moved the business to Connellsville the first location was on Pittsburgh Street. Later he bought property on McCormick Avenue so he could build a bigger store.

In 1974, the new location opened at 509 McCormick Ave.

At that time Craig Appliance sold appliances, TVs and snowmobiles. The building has had several additions since then as product lines expanded and snowmobile sales were discontinued.

Gene Craig was a private corporate pilot, flying business executives anywhere they needed to go east of the Mississippi and into Canada. He flew his twin engine turbo prop, Beechcraft 99, out of Connellsville Airport.

“I was in graduate school at WVU with no plans to join dad in the business when my mom (Kathleen) asked if I would come help out. That was in the late 1970s, and eventually I became the business owner,” said son Barry Craig.

“We had a very loyal customer base in the mountains and they are still our customers today. We see their children and their grandchildren. We still have weekly deliveries to our customers in and around Normalville. We've built our business on good products and good service and we appreciate our customers,” Gene Craig said.

Over the years the TVs have changed, technology has changed. The companies have merged and changed. Craig's has changed for those reasons but has also tried to keep the standard products that people look for. There are most major brands of TVs, refrigerators, washers and dryers, stoves, wall ovens, dehumidifiers, microwaves, dishwashers and portable dishwashers, sweepers, DVD players, air-conditioners, dorm-room size combo washers and dryers, dishwashers and refrigerators and a parts center with a big inventory, where customers buy heating elements, pigtails and many other parts.

Craig's has become Craig Appliance and Furniture with the addition of furniture, much of it made in the USA. Brooks Furniture is made in Tennessee. Their glider rockers are a very popular item. Ort recliners, relax-a-loungers, are made in Amish Country (Salem, Ohio) and are of solid northern wood. There are TV stands and chests of drawers that come from Purdue, South Dakota. The Symbol and Simmons mattresses and box springs come out of Virginia. Flexsteel is based in Iowa and Georgia. The stylish fabrics, including, microfiber couches and recliners, are being assembled on the frames there. Craig Appliance and Furniture carries a large selection of American made products. Items that customers want that are not in stock can usually be at the store in just 24-48 hours.

Craig Appliance and Furniture has been a longtime chamber member. Barry Craig has been a Rotarian for many years and a Community Ministries Board trustee chairman at Otterbein United Methodist Church.

The Greater Connellsville Chamber of Commerce will recognize Craig Appliance and Furniture for its 50-plus years in business at the “Winter Wonderland” event being held Saturday at Pechin Firehouse Restaurant.

“This is the first annual event for celebration of business opportunity, growth, and longevity here in Connellsville and this year we are celebrating Craig Appliance's longevity of over 50 years of serving the Connellsville and surrounding areas,” said Michael Bowman, a chamber board member.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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