COVID-19 has left a bloodbath of failed retailers in its wake, many of which were already on shaky ground before the pandemic. You can add famed mail order automotive parts reseller (and your author’s one-time employer) JC Whitney to this list.
Parent company US Auto Parts Network announced yesterday that effective July 16, jcwhitney.com would be shut down and redirected to the company’s flagship carparts.com site as part of their ongoing brand consolidation. Most of the other USAP online properties have already been closed down to allow the company to focus on the carparts.com brand, including autopartswarehouse.com and partstrain.com.
The company said that the JC Whitney name would live on as a house brand name attached to a line of private label products, without specifying what those will be.
JC Whitney had been in decline for decades (read the full story here), despite the failed efforts of multiple ownerships to reverse course. They stopped printing their legendary catalog a few years back and recently closed their sole retail store, an outlet store attached to their distribution center in LaSalle, IL.
It seems somehow fitting that the JC Whitney name, best known for selling cheap Chinese-made parts, will spend its final years affixed to a line of, well, cheap Chinese-made parts.
No article about JC Whitney would be complete without some images from the catalog’s glory days, so I’ve sprinkled a few throughout this post.