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Mon Sep 17, 2012, 05:01 PM

Why I like small businesses

Since 1985 I have had a mechanic that has taken care of my cars. They were all vehicles I bought used and he did a great job. He was 2 blocks from my then home. Very much an urban area. Even when I moved 8 years ago, I still went to him, distance now is about 6 miles. Whatever parts I needed, he let me know and allowed me to go down to the auto parts store and buy them, about 3 blocks from him. Once when I needed struts, he told me to go down to the local junkyard, about 2 miles from him & get the struts. Cheaper there than at the auto parts store.

When I started going to the garage his father ran the operation. His dad retired (still hung around), and he took over. Last time I was there I saw his son (about 20) working with his dad. Besides the owner, there were 3 other mechanics, he paid them daily and sometimes they would be gone for a week or 2 but they'd be back. This garage will be around for at least another generation. I drove by it today & saw that it had an all new painted front. It looked great.

I've not gone to him in 2 years, because I bought a new car and it's under warranty. I do however, miss going there, I would walk across the street get a cup of coffee and go back & hang out until my car was done. No nice waiting area, I sat on the stoop of the building. No repair was ever over $250.

Once a year, here in Pennsylvania you need a mechanical and an emissions inspection of your car. This garage did not have the equipment for an emissions, so he would send me up the hill to another garage where the emissions would be done. This garage is a one man operation, he has 2 bays for repairs. So every year this owner did the emissions on my car.

Now on this new vehicle, I get free life-time mechanical inspections but I would have to pay for the emissions. Now I know it would be much easier & more time efficient If I let the dealer do both, but this guy is a small businessman hustling to make a living and I know my $42.80 isn't going to make or break him, but it doesn't hurt. And I don't have to make an appointment, just show up & within a half hour the test is done.

So earlier today I went to his shop and walked in. He looked up, saw me & the first words out of his mouth were "I was just thinking about you today." That's why I go. He only sees me in September, but he knows I'm going to show up.

These 2 garages are the backbone of America. Two men hustling to make a living, one employing a couple of guys, the other a one man operation, who's doing ok.

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