When I spotted this storefront in downtown Cottage Grove, I thought I’d fallen down a worm hole. A look inside the window was a look back in time; a living history museum still in business.
Too bad it was Sunday, so I couldn’t go in and sniff the air; oil, rubber, and steel, along with a hint of cardboard. And engine rebuilding too; how convenient. So when’s the last time you saw a parts store like this?
The last one I was in, was located in Sylvania, Ohio. As of three (>3) years ago, before moving to Florida, they were still operational.
The first thing that took me back in time, was sound and smell of the brake-lathe running in the backroom!
In my alternatively misguided youth, I spent waaay more time in the Mom & Pop, or brother & brother auto parts stores and machine shops of Detroit and San Francisco than I ever did in bars and pool halls!
Whenever I see someone’s car hood going up, I’m always one of the first gawkers!
Well, never, actually. I’m too young I suppose. And that makes me a little sad. Our local NAPA does have a machine shop, but there’s not much I trust them with. For important stuff, I make a trip to a place called Shorty’s. It’s pretty cool in its own right. There’s nothing CNC controlled in the whole shop. Just some old timers well versed in their trade.
Nothing like finding some old timers! They know everything. I took a trip down to the local hardware store in my old neighborhood to get an old timer’s opinion on repairing some luggage. It was a great 15 minute experience, and with a bolt, nut, nylon washer and some gorilla glue we’re back in business.
Back in the 80s, the generator crapped out on my 61 Tbird rolling project. Washington Auto Parts on the near east side of Indianapolis specialized in older stuff, so I went there. My generator was physically longer than what they had in stock, so they offered to rebuild mine. The next day I picked it up and all was perfect. They closed some time in the late 90s or early 00s.
Been a long time, for sure. I never really liked dealing with (most of) the old-school places, though. Always seemed to be made to feel like I was not really welcome. More often than not, I was needing something not standard (due to engine swaps or other modifications), and convincing the guy behind the counter (who “knew better”) was an excercise in frustration.
It’s easier today since I can look up the right part online. Unfortunately, unless you need something for a late-model, popular make, it’s become almost impossible to expect today’s parts places to even have it on the shelf. “I can order it for you and have it here tomorrow.” No thanks, given I’ll have to drive an hour out of my way again…
That said, I did use an old-school guy to rebuild my 8N engine back in 2008 (he retired shortly after and closed shop). He was great to work with, knew his stuff, and used all ‘analog’ equipment… He was well known and respected in the area. Was sorry to see him retire!
There’s a place I drive out to on Long Island called the AutoBarn that still has that flavor. Veteran guys, the kind who know without cracking a book that the AC Delco filter on your car used to be the PF30 but they changed the numbering to PF24…and they have the Delco filter.
Everything is simplified, or maybe stupified today, in the old days you could go there and order parts for a car like a MIni, which were similar to those on a Jaguar saving money.
I once order Carello headlights (no sealed beams in Europe) for a Lamborghini using the part number of an Alfa Romeo, saving hundreds.
Those interweb stores today cannot supply parts if your car is not a 100% official import.
I have an Impreza WRX STI type R Version V limited edition.
Which is a two door Impreza “Coupe”, which was never sold outside Japan.
Mine has been converted from RHD to LHD and getting parts on the interweb is impossible because part stores do not recognize my car, except some UK specialists.
Even a $ 75 EU Lhd headlight in a partstore is a nightmare, the air flow sensor was impossible to get ‘because Japanese use different part books and numbers”, it appeared to be a simple every day Euro Impreza part.
For new wiperblades I give my parts guy the blades, a coupe has a rear window wiper, I am anxious to see what he is coming with, maybe an old Citroen Berlingo Van rear wiper will be exactly the same !
And yes, I want the partstore back, although it will never happen, I wanna walk out the door like I did as a kid with a brandnew Mini Cooper S exhaust system, which had been lying around the store for twenty years and the old geezer said, “Oi, I believe we still must have an original Cooper S exhaust, if you are interested ”
Yes I was, and he gave me the decent price of $ 30 for taking it of his hands
Or the original BMC shroud for a Healey 3 litre that had been hanging from the ceiling for decades when I gave a friend the tip who was restoring a Big Healey.
With the disappearance of parts stores, the knowledge will go out of the window, the lectures of old grey man with beige working coats who had a fortune of experience and could tell you how to fit a part will go, or better it has already gone
“No sunny, you first have to disconnect the alternator and then you can reach the oil filter, yes it is more work but in this case you will not ruin the alternator when undoing the oil filter, and take them Golden Lodge plugs with you, you do not wish to burn a hole in a piston now do ya ” — Alfa Giulia 1300 lectures on a saturday morning ! —-
Sometime in the mid-90’s, the power steering cylinder failed on my 1968 Mercury Cougar. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I called Torrance Auto Parts locally and they had one right on the shelf. It had been sitting there for years. Put it on and it worked perfectly for the next several years until the car finally died. Last I heard, Torrance Auto Parts is still in business.
There is an old school machine shop that I occasionally use, was not sure about location and 3 parts stores I went to never heard of it, but a customer who overheard me knew of it and refreshed my memory of the location. So for now, the best of both worlds, internet for parts catalog’s to get correct part numbers and to to source affordable correct parts, and a automotive machine shop locally when machine services are needed. Those old school stores often would only provide services if you bought the parts from them. I do remember those mom and pop stores, and they would sometimes tend to sometimes have unfriendly/grouchy old farts tending the counter.
We used to have Valley Auto Parts here in downtown Tigard. Went to high school with the owners daughter who was…ahem…quite friendly in the back seat. She worked at the store, and gave me killer prices on parts, among other things 🙂 It is Max’s Brew Pub now.
Undercar Parts here in Inglewood is an old-fashioned mom and pop type parts store. I don’t use them for everything, but they have great prices and friendly, knowledgeable staff.
Like the name suggests, they’re primarily brake and chassis-type stuff, but they can get pretty much anything.
I wasn’t exposed to these mom and pop stores but do recall the earlier format of Pep Boys and Western Auto when they sold custom parts, bicycles, mowers, appliances and even toys… and not just auto “parts”. The smell of new tires is what takes me back in time.
About 30 years ago I was a district manager of an Advance Auto Parts chain and even then, the layout was different. People were still driving cars that were not computerized and “hands on” repairs still popular. The isles were full of parts and accessories for the do it yourselfer and now, the stores are only a shadow of what they once were. People behind the counter haven’t a clue and give the impression they don’t care – only collecting a paycheck. No one on the sales floor trying to sell items (we did 1-plus selling) since there is little to sell outside of bulbs, wipers, and oil. I don’t see why places like Advance,Auto Zone,Pep Boys, etc… just don’t close shop or set up inside stores like Wal-Mart? The buildings they currently occupy are a total waste of space, and staff that they have a deficit.
There was a place called Far East Motors….or something similar, a few blocks from my house and while I own a Japanese car I never used them. It didn’t help them, in my opinion, that ALL the windows on the building were blacked out.
A few months ago they closed then reopened under a new name (new owners/new management?) but now there are way fewer cars parked outside and no traffic in or out of the building.
I’ve used independent parts shops in the past and I wish they hadn’t been “pushed out” by the internet.
In my memory, THE best parts places were the ones that had more than just parts.
I especially miss the old school motorcycle shops.
They weren’t just a cycle shop, they were a hangout. The parts counter was also a social area with a wall of vending machines and benches to sit on. It was used as a break room for the mechanics too. The do-it-yourselfers would co-mingle with the mechanics and get advice from them and from other customers. That was the best cycle shop I have ever seen in my entire life. Boy did they pack in the customers! I could hang out there for hours just sipping on soda pop(the kind that was dispensed from a vending machine in a paper cup) and munching on popcorn and peanuts and just talk about bikes.
Then there was my favorite car parts store in the old Italian part of town. It was just a plain medium sized concrete block building like you might’ve seen on a farm for a machine shed 50 years ago. Unpainted. Crude steel frame windows that tip out like you see in a 80 year old warehouse. No ceiling, just rafters. A couple large window A/C units stuck in the side of the wall.
Only one old guy worked there and he owned the place. There was no customer counter to stand at. There was only rows of tall shelves and one small service bay used to load unload engines and parts. Tell ol’ Frank what you wanted and then follow him as he hobbled down the aisles until he found it. He didn’t have a computer. He didn’t even have a cash register. There was a shelf with some greasy old parts books piled up but I can’t remember him ever using them. I don’t even think he had a filing cabinet in the building. There was a huge antique roll top desk that I never saw unlocked. He gave you your change back from money out of his pants pocket. His hands were crippled up so sometimes I had to count the change to myself for him.
He knew everything. His prices were unbeatable. I don’t know where he found his parts. He had to have had some pretty good connections…like some relatives who had retired from the garage business, or something like that, and just gave him their inventories maybe?? He even had tools to loan out. I borrowed things from him like engine stands, engine hoists, piston ring compressors, valve spring compressors, honing tools, body work tools, pickle forks,…etc. No charge. No deposit. No paperwork. You just brought them back when you were done with them.
He was semi-retired so he didn’t keep regular hours. It was by appointment only. He only needed about an hour notice and would meet you there. He always had some amazing part he would bring up…”hey, I was thinking about you the other day when I ran across this part I got awhile back really cheap. Ya wanna look at it? I’ll let it go for a real good price.” One time it was a brand new Holley Carburettor never used but no box…oddball configuration…mechanical secondaries, manual choke, but missing the choke lever I think, and double pumper fuel delivery. I bought it for less than half price.
The last place like this in my part of Phoenix was APCO Auto Parts, a family-owned operation with multiple generations working in the store. I don’t remember when the parts store closed, but they still run a repair facility.
Recently needed a quart of oil for my mower, and was disgusted to discover that Walmart doesn’t even sell single-weight oils. Even O’Reilly doesn’t have the selection I remember from the past.
One can still find these kinds of shops in the small engine/outdoor power equipment field here in Phx.
I spent five years working part-time as a counterman for Royco Auto Parts in Beacon, NY. This was a small family business with three stores, run by three brothers, who have since retired and sold out.
At the time this was simply a part-time job to put me through college, but looking back on it now, I was fortunate to have learned the trade in a small independent shop. I was trained by seasoned parts specialists who combined had decades of experience looking up parts, and I learned a lot about tracking down parts via cross referencing and ‘using the books.’ It was the type of intensive training you would never receive from the major parts conglomerates, where if a part can’t be found in the computer, it simply doesn’t exist.
I was a GM parts man for nearly 20 years, I started right after high school in 1986. That was the days when the parts catalogs were still the big heavy books, before they were on computer. Those were the days where everything was handwritten, inventory was on a card catalog, like the old libraries, and you had to know your part numbers from memory. I remember teaching a new employee back in 2003 or so, and the computer system was down. I grabbed a catalog and told him to look up the part. He said he couldn’t because he never used the paper catalog before. He didn’t realize the old book and the computer catalog was exactly the same!! The first GM dealership I worked at was in a small town of about 8,000 people and was very much old school with the signage, fan belt measurer, brake line holder and such. That was the good old days…most of the countermen now at Autozone and such can’t tell you which spark plug, oil filter or wiperblades fit your car without using the computer and about 100 questions that have nothing to do with what you’re looking for. “Is it a two door or four door?” “All I want is an oil filter”…..
I still see one every week called Monument Auto Parts with four locations and the best one in Pacheco. The only thing that irritates me is that they now use a distributor that doesn’t carry all the manufacturers. Because of that they may have the part but not from who I want so I am forced to get it off Rock Auto many times.
Almost forgot. There was Danville Auto with the one man behind the counter who knew his stuff. The owner later sold out to someone else who clearly didn’t know how to sell auto parts. The long time guy leaves and the two newer guys know nothing. Then when the store starts to sell hardware you know the writing is on the wall. The store has been vacant for almost two years now. Shame too as there are lots of old classics stored in Danville garages and the owners all used this place.
Chain parts store I find quite useless, I have found a lady locally that can get any part I need so far, she is brilliant she works at a small repair shop and anything for Hillmans or Citroens is usually an overnight delivery, yeah theres a Citroen dealer nearby too but they tend to sell genuine parts at high prices I doo go there for specific stuff but I havent seen a Rootes Group dealer in a very long time.
The old spares shop used to be a great way to track down NOS parts, because they never threw away old inventory. Now, the guys at Autobarn or Super Cheap just look at you like you’re nuts if your car was built more than 20 years ago, and you need a gasket.
Yes l miss them. I have fond memories of Main St. Auto Parts in my home town in the mid to late 70s. Converted old 2 pump gas station sans pumps. Dusty bare concrete floor in a cluttered front customer area with a couple of stools, an old school bus seat ,a manual tire mounting machine and bubble balancer. The place had a barber shop atmosphere. Old guys hanging out shooting the breeze, local gossip, or swapping jokes. You could enjoy a glass bottled Pepsie from the old vending machine. You had to leave a nickel on the counter if you took it with you. If the St Louis Cardinals were playing the game would be blaring on the radio. As a teenager with meager funds I was always fooling with used tires. I’d say “well Bernie I broke down 4 tires and remounted and balanced 2 ” then he would make up a price, “awe gimme 5 bucks”. Good ole Bernie passed a few years later and so did an era.
In the mid 80’s I was employed at a repair shop that did a lot of business with the last mom and pop parts store in our town. They performed a unique service for us.They were located in a small 4 unit strip mall and their neighbor was a liquor store. Occasionally we’d phone in a parts order towards the end of the workday and ask “Would you mind stopping next door and picking up such and such beer. They’d say “sure” and their El Camino would pull up with parts and beer!
My favorite parts store when young was H and E Auto Parts in the Avondale area of Chicago. Knew their parts and good Machine shop. Now it’s one of the top BBQ place in the Country, Smoque. Not sure which I like better.
They are auctioning off the remaining stock of Radke’s today online. An old fashioned speed shop in North Portland has gone the way of the Edsel. We still have Baxter’s, however. They installed my U-joints and balanced the driveline as they have machine shop services still in situ. My big complaint with today’s parts stores is the race to the bottom. I will gladly pay more for a higher quality part so I do not have to repair again in this lifetime. I have rebuilt the front suspension on my ragtop Mustang and my Mark VIII both twice. I have elected to blame the mechanic for now, but I have never done it a second time on any other repair including the rebuild of the 302.
The old school parts stores were my education-I learned a lot by the ‘old guy yelling at me’ method. That encouraged me to learn the proper way to look for (and ask for) auto parts. I took what I’ve learned from the old guys and parlayed it into a 25 year (so far)career in the retail and wholesale auto parts biz. I am dismayed by the insistence that everything is computerized-nothing like watching someone panic when it goes down and they don’t have a clue to use a paper catalog. Unfortunately, the chains believe in the ’employment-by-the-low-bid’ method of employment recruitment and just put warm bodies behind the counter. It is a sad state of affairs when a slightly knowledgeable customer is way more qualified to sell parts than the untrained, low-paid person at the parts counter.
+ 1. Parts stores need to make the investment in qualified parts counter people. The big chains have forgotten or have ignored the fact that knowledgeable people translates into bigger profits in the long run and a better reputation and thus more customers.
It is a sad state of affairs when a slightly knowledgeable customer is way more qualified to sell parts than the untrained, low-paid person at the parts counter.
No kidding. Last time I needed anti-freeze for my 2006 Jeep I went to both O’Reilly’s and Autozone, specifically asked for HOAT coolant and the clerks at each tried to sell me Dexcool ‘universal’ assuring me that it ‘worked in everything’.
The whole thing with the ignorance of these know-nothing cashiers is enough to turn you off from used cars entirely, considering that half of them can’t even tell you which coolant or ATF is correct for your make of vehicle.
I’ve worked in parts stores since 1981 and I would have looked at you like you had 2 heads– I’ve never hear anyone use the term HOAT coolant–it’s called G-05 and I’m sure if you had used that term they would have known what you were talking about.
Boy do I miss a good parts store. Even every Napa store around here pegs the ol suck-o-meter. Carquest sold out to Advance and the quality is dropping. The other chain stores are full of slackjaw acne ridden idiots. Opel? who made that? Studebaker? who made that? Vega? huh? Don’t even try with Peugeot. Even the local Ford dealer blew out their good parts dept personnel, you know, the ones who had most of the common part numbers committed to memory. They were replaced with poor attitude clueless kids because they come cheap.
I can so relate to the above posts…is this “preaching to the choir”? In Vancouver in the 60s, it was Cal-Van or Western Accessories; everything I needed to hop up the flatty in my 49 Merc rag, and even more stuff when I put the Lincoln engine in. [My buddies called the car “Merlin”] Up until a scant few years ago, a shop called D.V. Aldous looked after anything related to brakes and clutches. When my grey-market Citroen GS needed a new clutch, Mrs Aldous was able to match up parts from other obscure European vehicles. Gone now, although there was a plan to do mail-order.
“Every time an old man dies, a library burns down”
Do dogs bark? But fortunately we still have one in town.
I miss Verbecks , Sparks , Ace Hi and many others .
ETY just closed up shop last year , I still have not found a decent European Partshaus to replace him yet =8-( .
In my early days of keeping my almost twenty-year-old Chevys and Plymouths on the road did I spend more money at King Automotive buying parts than they saved me with their advice? Tough call. As long as you didn’t get “the kid” at the counter you got the right part the first time.
They closed up years ago *sigh*. What I miss along with the advice is the store having the part I needed on the shelf. Walk into Advance or some other chain with the parts shelves full of boxes that are sure decorations “We can have that for you tomorrow or the next day” Yea, but I kinda’ need it now. I appreciate it would be much more difficult for anyone to keep all kinds of parts on hand for the many more models of cars that are out there now…but that doesn’t make me miss it any less.
At least the NAPA near me has a collection of grey beards behind the counter.
There are still a couple parts stores like this around me. The Burgettstown (PA) NAPA certainly has an old school feel to it, not sure if they do any machine shop work as I haven’t had the need recently.
Weirton Heights (WV) Auto Parts is closer and Terry’s as good as they come with parts, installing U-joints or turning rotors (when turning them’s even possible now)…the inside’s a total throwback, there’s even a portrait of JFK hanging above the counter.
For most stuff, the local AutoZone’s my default.
Don’t they grind disc rotors any more ? .
That was how we were taught to do it way back when in the 1960’s…..
Bearing Service is still hanging on in an otherwise gentrified piece of NW Portland, although I haven’t been there since the 90s.
My most missed places were Aid Auto in Dobbs Ferry NY which did the machine work the first time I had to pull a cylinder head and 2 old BMW motorcycle shops. House of Triumph in Thornwood NY was a shrine to dead brands since he also had signage for Bultaco and Matchless. It was run by an old German with a bad leg so he rode a sidecar and had all kinds of NOS parts on the walls. I got a Luftmeister fork brace form the 70s still in shrink wrap plus lots of advice while getting started. Aloha BMW in Aloha OR. was another old fashioned hole in the wall that helped me through a top end rebuild with parts, advice and machine work. Fortunate the old parts guy survived the closure of 2 shops and is still working at the newer, shinier BMW shop in Tigard since the other parts guys sometimes get baffled by a not quite stock 78..
So miss these types of stores. They more often than not had the part you were looking for in stock and you didn’t have to wait for ordering- a big plus when your ride is sitting up on ramps in your driveway disabled. They also generally had very knowledgeable folks on board that knew exactly what you needed or how to do something unlike most of the box stores that have staff that are lucky to get the year make and model right. And about the only service these box stores offer are windshield wiper or battery installs and little else. If only we could still have both. That is the problem with everything today. The more you have the less you have is the saying I hear often.
The difference today is that these box stores hire anyone who will work cheap and can run a computer. Knowledge about automobiles not required. When I worked at Advance, there were no computers… only a rack with paper parts catalogs we had to look up everything. The only thing computerized then, and it was still new, was an automatic reordering system through the cash registers. We also needed a knowledge of the workings of an automobile to identify parts. One thing that irked me was that at one of my stores, we had a female parts clerk and men often went around her asking for a man to wait on them. Thing is that this “girl” could tear down and put back together an engine with her eyes closed.
I think it’s regional and as much a function of the buyers as the sellers. In parts of the country with an industrial heritage, or in farming country, there are still people with manual skills which means there is still demand for an ‘old time’ parts store.
Elsewhere, (like Florida) there is no such heritage and no pass-down of knowledge. Most people don’t know how to do anything for themselves. In places like that the chain ‘parts’ stores do a great business in chrome accessories and fuzzy dice.
There are still stores like this scattered around the greater Los Angeles area ~
The counter help is getting to be very hit or miss , frustrating beause you can often see the old stock everywhere but they don’t know how to use the old Waverly Index catalogs and don’t actually know anything about how vehicles work anyway =8-( .
BTW : am I allowed to drift the topic a bit ? .
I’m chasing a no spark problem in a 1979 Dodge D200 truck , the resistor is good and I have power to the coil but no flashing when I connect the test lamp to the ” – ” side of the coil and crank it .
5 pin module , # 5 pin is supposed to be ground path in the module but it isn’t .
Thoughts ? .
Torrance Auto Parts is now a NAPA store and the machine shop is gone. So, I mostly go to O’Reilly due to the fact it is half the distance and has long hours.
Lecher Brothers was the full service place here in Redondo Beach when I was growing up. They custom mixed Dupont auto paints, rebuilt engines, the whole shebang. I brought them a Honda motorcycle head and the machinist had never worked on one before. No problem. He had the basic skills and knowledge to figure out exactly how to do the job, perfectly.
There is a mortgage office in the building now. Demographics around here have gone way upmarket, so a typical resident lives in a $2M townhouse and leases a German luxury car. Still, there are plenty of us old-timers left with our VW busses and the like.
Does anybody remember Schinagle’s Auto Parts in Chicago? At Western & North Aves. There was nothing that they didn’t have, no matter how many inches of dust on the box. Full machine shop and oil slick in the rear. Getting them to order the correct left- and right-hand threads to redo the studs on my Dart’s wheel hubs was a fun discussion of perceived priorities over ‘sense’. I.E. I had none.
And there was also Warshawsky’s on the State Street on the South Side. That was the ‘storefront’ operation of JC Whitney’s vast mail-order business. It was something of a revelation to actually find the actual home of that great toilet-time catalog. They had a full scale junkyard out back! If what you needed wasn’t in that store, they directed you to their mail order warehouse underneath a giant radio tower on the West Side on Cicero Ave.
Actually as late as the mid-90s, Chicago had full scale auto parts operations sprinkled regularly throughout the neighborhoods North, South and West. All of them replaced to my knowledge by modern ‘big box’ parts operators.
While the topic at hand is auto parts, has anyone else noticed that hardware stores are going the same way? There is one here near downtown Richmond called Pleasants’ Hardware, whose slogan is ‘Most Anything’. And it’s true–walking into that store is like stepping back in time, in that *all* of the employees actually know their stuff. Find one (which is much easier to do than in the employee-barren halls of Lowe’s or HD), tell them what you’re trying to do, and you will immediately be led to exactly the right item. It’s such a revelation compared to the usual experience. And the store itself–dark, low-ceilinged, an absolute maze. Rooms upon rooms. Hallways that lead to whole other sectons of store. Inventory from the dawn of time (they still have key blanks for AMC, Fiat, Peugeot…).
Sadly the real estate the store siits on has become too valuable, and the building is scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a Whole Foods. The store itself is surviving, as they’re moving a few miles down the street, and hopefully the knowledge and selection will still be present in the new store. But it won’t be quite the same in a different location.
Chris M. Hello neighbor. I live in Church Hill. Remember Harper Hardware at 18th and Broad before they moved? They had lots of older hard to find parts for home restorations – like car restorations with older mom and pop stores.
Ah, good to find a fellow CC’er in town. I lived in the Museum District until recently, when we bought a house in Lakeside. I have several friends in Church Hill though.
I’ve not lived here long enough to remember that Harper’s location–I’ve only been here three years (was in North Carolina previously). Had to consult Google Street View to see where you were talking about!
I’ve been a store manager at Carquest since they came to Canada in 1998, (Carquest is owned by Advance Auto now but has no stores in Canada) We do have some auto parts big box style stores and they tend to hire a lot of part time counter workers with little training. I’m constantly amazed at customers who are so happy I find them a part “that no one else could” that really wasn’t hard. The internet is the greatest thing for finding parts ever–its very rare I use a paper cataloge anymore. Parts diversification is unbelievable GM used the same brake pad number on most of their cars and trucks from 1969 to the end of Astros being built. But now we have to keep hundreds of brake pads and still can’t stock everything-and it cost money to have something sit on the shelf to the older slow moving stuff goes. We still sell points and condensers but they earn their way on the shelf.
I don’t mind finding stuff for older cars but sometimes I don’t have the time to put major effort into it (We got guys that spend $12,000 a month) so I say if you can leave it with me I’ll do my best. The worst customers and I got a feeling some of them are here are the guys with a little knowledge–“What do you need to know that for?, They are all the same” and “My buddy says you sell that”. I know you may not need to know the engine size to look up a window regulator but a lot of times guys will pull a Columbo and ask “can you check something else for me?” I’ve often wondered why someone would rather argue with me rather than answer a simple question but I’ve come to the conclusion customers want me to thing they know what they are doing.
I don’t know if any of you have seen this poem–I first seen it late 70’s
The Partsmans Lament
I work behind the counter of a parts and accessories store.
Sometimes I’m called a genius, sometimes I’m called lots more.
I’m just a simple parts man, but when a job goes sick.
The “experts” come to me and ask “What makes this [censored] thing tick ?”
I’m supposed to know the numbers of valves and bolts and gears;
on every product that been made for more than fourty years.
Mind reader and magician, and handyman as well.
I’m supposed to be Edison plus Alexander Bell.
But life would be a pleasure and I’d smile from ear to ear,
if people just would tell me the MODEL, MAKE AND YEAR!
I did VW for 30 years and dealerships at one time paid for experience. Many dealerships themselves are now owned by big national or regional chains. Bottom line is their priority and with computers they “know” anybody can do it cheap since the computer knows all. When I started to be offered pay I got 10-15 years earlier my parts carrier was done. But the inexperienced help always seemed to ask “the old guy” how to figure out anything the computer didn’t know. It was easier just to write down the part number from memory for them and get on with my own work. I don’t miss the parts business such as it exists today at all.