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Father-daughter duo open lighting showroom in Newark, expand downtown electric supply business

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  • Josh Durso 

When Mark Lockwood purchased and opened First Choice Electric Supply in Newark he couldn’t have envisioned what would happen over the next five years.

Lockwood purchased the former Colacino Electric Supply at 319 West Union Street, and shortly thereafter, First Choice Electric Supply was born.

Mark Lockwood and Kaitlyn Ruffalo in the First Choice Electric Supply Lighting Showroom in Newark.

Before opening First Choice in 2017 Lockwood owned a contracting business. He knew at some point opening a lighting showroom, much like the Colacino’s Home Lighting Center, would be a good move.

Fast-forward five years and a lot has changed. The team at First Choice Electric Supply has worked hard to grow the business.

Now, Lockwood and daughter Kaitlyn Ruffalo are bringing that lighting showroom to life.

“I remember growing up and running errands with my dad who only owned his contracting business at the time,” Ruffalo recalled. “We would stop into the store when it was Colacino’s and I would always gravitate toward the popcorn machine.”

DiSanto Propane (Billboard)

Ruffalo will join her father, managing the lighting showroom portion of the business, which opened August 15th. For father and daughter – it made complete sense.

“It didn’t take me long to think to ask Kaitlyn if she wanted to come work for the family business and help run it,” Lockwood recalled. “Once I started the plans of opening up the showroom, bringing her aboard immediately crossed my mind. She has a great eye for this stuff and has talked about having a business of her own. Someday that will come to fruition here.”

He has managed the development of the lighting showroom to date, and will continue to oversee day-to-day operation. That said, Ruffalo will be taking reigns in a serious way – working with customers and learning the ins-and-outs of the business.

“Being young I still have a lot to learn,” Ruffalo said of entering the family business. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit that led her to believing owning-and-operating a business was right for her long-term. “I’m excited to work with people and help them. I think the process of picking out lighting for your home can be really daunting, but completely necessary. When homeowners are remodeling, they often overlook the importance of lighting and will slap a new coat of paint on the walls or put down new flooring and completely neglect lighting. The lighting fixtures you have affect every detail of the room and can really set the mood and enhance your decor.”

That energy and attitude is what prompted Lockwood to see the opportunity bringing his daughter onboard.

“I think we can really be an asset to our community and the Finger Lakes,” he added. “When you come into our showroom, we take the time to sit down with you and help you find fixtures that will suit your needs while adding style in your home. That’s something you don’t get at the big box stores, the one-on-one guidance.”

The lighting showroom where Ruffalo will be leading that customer service effort is located next to the building supply store. It’s stocked with ceiling fans, lighting fixtures – including chandeliers, pendants, bath collections, surface mounts, wall scones, exterior lighting, and more.

First Choice Electric Supply will also work with homebuilders and contractors in the region to assist them with lighting needs. Lockwood being a longtime electrical contracting business owner and operator positions the family well to this expanded venture.

“We want to make this as hassle-free as possible for homeowners, contractors, and builders from the moment they walk into the door (or call), to the moment their fixtures are hung in the home,” Lockwood added. He says free delivery will be a crucial component to making that process hassle-free.

Reflecting on the decision to join the family business, the 23-year-old Ruffalo said her love of Newark and the Finger Lakes made the decision easy.

“It feels like a hidden gem,” Ruffalo said of Newark. “I love how rural it is, but is still a short drive to Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake, Lake Ontario, Victor, Rochester, and Syracuse. Everyone in Newark sees the potential, especially since the village won the Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and lots of projects to improve the town more.”

She said being a part of that community and the business community in Newark is something to be proud of. “It’s very exciting and encouraging,” Ruffalo concluded.