SIDNEY — Slow and steady.

That’s the philosophy Steve and Darcy Barrows, owners of Steve’s Appliance Service & Sales Inc., say they have embraced for nearly two decades.

“If you look at where we were 19 years ago and where we are today, it’s hard to imagine all this,” Steve Barrows said. “The steps were small but consistent. We kept growing from a little bit bigger to a little bit bigger.”

Despite an ailing economy, competition from national retailers and a battered housing market, Barrows said he expects sales to double in the coming year — thanks largely to his new, more visible location on 6 Pond Road that includes more than 20,000 square feet to showcase a wide inventory of kitchen products, furniture and home appliances.

He said the economy has had very little, if any, impact on sales.

“Clean laundry and the refrigerator are two things people can’t live without,” Darcy Barrows said.

Steve Barrows said he first opened as a service-only business in 1992 after gaining experience in appliance repair.

Within a few years, he had ventured into sales, and Darcy came on board in 1995 to handle advertising and accounting.

“She saw me doing all the paperwork — or trying to do it,” Steve Barrows said. “In the beginning, there were more 100-hour work weeks than 40-hour work weeks — and without any paychecks. All the money went back into the business.”

Steve sold used appliances and housed them in his own garage during that time. “We were probably the only garage in Maine without a vehicle in it,” he said.

Steve’s Appliance later sold new appliances and more recently added mattresses and furniture to the inventory.

The Barrowses bought the new location — a highly visible, triangle-shaped lot at the corner of routes 8, 11 and 27 — in 2010, and constructed the building in November and December.

The new location also includes an additional 1,200-square-foot commercial space for rent.

“We’ve had some interest (in the space) because people want to be near the new hospital,” Darcy said. “We’re extremely fortunate and have worked very hard.”

Steve Barrows said he enjoys both the sales and service aspect of his business. He welcomes potential customers to call for advice or questions.

“I always liked working mechanics but not getting greasy. I like the hands-on experience,” he said.

The business employs 14 full-time and two part-time people.

To help create a team atmosphere, no one works on commission.

Steve Barrows said he only sells products he believes have a good reputation.

Barrows said he plans to install a 30- to 40-foot windmill on the property to test-run the product. He describes it as an “eggbeater” style that should generate power even in low winds.

He and his wife said they believe the new site will help grow their reputation as a local business.

“I was 25 when I started the business,” Steve Barrows said. “I wish I had started it sooner.”

Dan Harrington is a Kennebec Journal correspondent who lives in Augusta.

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