Andrew Ross is publisher and editor of Canada’s “Jobber News,” a magazine for parts retailers and distributors, and he also serves as a MACS Convention correspondent. He recently came across an interesting political situation in Wisconsin and penned this comment in his magazine’s April, 2012 issue.
It’s presented here with his permission because it makes some strong points about the aftermarket and the community.
Comment: Plan to Block O’Reilly Store Raises Questions About Image
A move to block an O’Reilly Auto Parts store because it wasn’t deemed good enough for a Wisconsin city may have failed, but it gives rise to questions about how municipalities and residents view auto parts businesses.
The failure of the move by Wauwatosa councilors means that an O’Reilly Auto Parts Store will soon occupy the space where a Blockbuster once stood in East Tosa, Wis., reported WauwatosaNow.com.
The debate hinged on the fact that some residents felt it may not fit with the city’s vision for the neighbourhood.
What should be concerning for the aftermarket, however, is the underlying sentiment among dissenters—the vote was 11-3 against blocking the store—that it is preferable to have a vacant storefront waiting for a “suitable business” to arrive rather than allow an auto parts store to make it home.
Fortunately for O’Reilly, the majority of the councilors felt differently, but even then only on strict conditions about what work customers could perform in the adjacent parking lot.
In the current U.S. economy, it’s much more likely that larger, nationwide companies can afford to rehabilitate vacant properties, alderman Donald Birschel told WauwatosaNow.com. Economic conditions must improve for small businesses to take a chance, and having vacant properties will not help.
So common sense seems to have won the day, but only barely, and only conditionally. Considering that sentiment, even those who voted for the plan did so grudgingly.
An auto parts store provides jobs, services, and needed merchandise to a community. It also provides a good corporate citizen.
Considering the well-documented community commitments that aftermarket industry players are known for within the industry, it would seem that there is still considerable work to do communicating the real value of an auto parts business to consumers and other decision makers.
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