Brother’s honor father in naming new business
When you get ready to move into a new home, you need a lot of things. Some of those are appliances, whether a washer and dryer, refrigerator, or a barbecue grill for the lanai. But along with those items, you will likely be in the market for a variety of additional items, including flooring, countertops, window treatments – maybe even a dock.
So when brothers Joey and J.B. Billi planned their new retail facility, they thought “big picture.” Their own business is appliances, and their business is Duke’s Appliances, representing a variety of manufacturers, from the top-of-the-line Viking to more affordable Frigidaire, and at least half a dozen others. But they also talked to their contacts in the business world, and came up with the concept of a design center, where a customer can be exposed to a variety of independent businesses, each offering another piece of the home and home furnishing puzzle.
“Our vision is to be a one stop shop,” said Joey Billi. “We are a referral machine.” As a customer, you can visit the center and, in one location, learn about many possibilities for your home you might not have considered.
Of course, the name on the wall outside, right under Marco Design Center, says Duke’s Appliances, and that is the Billis’ forte. The business is named after their father, John Billi, who died 14 years ago.
“He was always called the Duke. He was a motorcycle cop in Brooklyn for 20 years,” said Joey. “Here we are, his sons, still working together. This is a real family business.” A framed photograph of the senior John Duke sits in a glass case in the appliance display area.
Joey Bili has been in Southwest Florida for 13 years, and had a previous appliance business for seven years. J.B. also has another business, Smokin’ Bull Cigar Room in Naples.
“Our slogan is ‘why settle for a good deal, when you can get a great deal,” said Joey. For the past three months, Duke’s Appliances has been open on a “by appointment” basis, but now, say the brothers, they are ready for their close-up.
Friday evening, Duke’s Appliances and the Marco Design Center are holding an open house at the store, across from Publix on South Barfield Drive and just north of Marco Island Florist. From 5:30 to 8:30, they will offer complimentary hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer. The food items include hot dogs and hamburgers, so you could say there are product demos as well, at least of a barbecue grill or two.
A week ahead of the opening, work was still going on to complete finishing out the 10,000 square feet of space on two levels, in the former Sally Kramer Furniture Collection space. In addition to Viking and Frigidaire, appliance lines being shown include Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, Marvel, Speed Queen, Scotsman and Bull, which specializes in BBQ.
Appliances including gleaming stainless steel refrigerators, ranges and washer/dryers are placed in settings, and the associated vendors are moving in their displays. One of them, Imperial Marine Construction, has a mockup of a dock, and is reported to be including an actual boat.
Another, Sight N Sound LLC, offers a wide range of home automation, alarm systems, surround sound and audio/video equipment, said co-owner Kurt Clapper.
“This is a great opportunity for us, collaborating with Duke’s Appliances,” said Clapper. “It gets our products in front of people when they come in. People might not have seen them otherwise, and don’t know all of the things we have available.
“People want smart features in their home, but think, ‘wow, that’s really expensive – but it’s not any more.” Like many of the vendors, Clapper will be on hand to talk to potential customers on Friday evening.
Additional vendors showing their products and services at the Marco Design Center include Real Rock countertops, Stone Mart floors, Alpha Omega Construction, HR air conditioning, AFK flooring and cabinets, and a distributor for 3M window tinting film, said Joey Billi. More vendor associates will be announced in the future.
Marco Design Center
128 South Barfield Drive
Open house 5:30 – 8:30 p.m., Friday, May 20