Ribar back in business downtown

FAMILIAR FACE — Fort Steuben Appliances owner Mike Ribar says he’s glad to be back in business on North Fourth Street. The Steubenville native repurchased the store earlier this year. -- Linda Harris

STEUBENVILLE — Mike Ribar’s customers were surprised, to say the least, when he walked away from his downtown appliance business two years ago.

To say they’re just as surprised to have him back again is an understatement.

“When I’m out, so many people will come up and ask me, ‘Is it true, you’re back?'” said Ribar, owner of Fort Steuben Appliances at 143 N. Fourth St. “I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback. I didn’t realize how happy people would be. A lot of people already know, but they still want to make sure.”

Ribar’s specialty is used appliances — big items, like washers, dryers, stoves, refrigerators and freezers — and the parts to fix them, though if a customer prefers, he can always order brand new models. He warrants and services what he sells.

“I first opened in 2011, in the old Herald Square Cigar Store, but I could only put maybe 30 appliances in there,” he said. “So then I rented (another) storefront, I could put around 70 or 80 in there.”

But in 2017 he got an offer he couldn’t refuse and sold the store. “I was just getting older and tired, I wanted to relax,” he recalls. “I wanted to take it easy, but I got really bored.”

So bored he opened a smaller version of his store in Burgettstown. “It was doing well,” he said. “But this was the one I really wanted. I missed Steubenville.”

About a year ago his buyer offered to sell the shop back to him. They negotiated, “and almost did it a couple of times but it would fall through,” he said. “We finally got it done.”

He said his first day back was June 2.

“I had to be persuaded,” he admits. “The store in Burgettstown was doing decent, but not as good as this store would ever do. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get back to Steubenville.”

Ribar said he grew up in Steubenville and has always “been a downtown guy.”

“I like the downtown,” he said. “My dad used to bring me down to get ice cream or go to the cigar stores or movies.

“I’m centrally located here,” he adds. “No matter what I need to do, it’s down here. You don’t have to drive, it’s all within walking distance.”

The store has three-full floors but the showroom is on the first floor. The upper two levels are strictly for storage.

“There’s washers, dryers, stoves and refrigerators up there,” he said. “We have thousands of parts up there. If something can’t be fixed, we pull off the doors, the handles and the legs so if we ever need a part we have it and don’t have to buy new ones.”

He buys and sells as far away as Wheeling, East Liverpool and Robinson Township.

“A big part of my business is parts,” he said. “If we don’t have a part in stock, we’ll order it for next day delivery. We also service our appliances.”

The shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Satuday, though when necessary, he will make special arrangements to accommodate those with scheduling issues.

And now that he’s back in the downtown, he said he’s in it for the long haul.

“I would never sell it again,” he said. “I’ve got my good customers back, the landlords are coming back. And, every day someone tells me they’re glad I’m back here.”