CHICO – There’s a new business in the old Pep Boys location on Mangrove Avenue, and like the building itself, the business is getting “big.”
Advance Auto Parks, which has more than 5,000 stores in the United States (including 110 in California), is now open on 11,000 square feet.
It’s a big store with equally important goals when it comes to customer service.
For example, unlike most auto parts stores, the store deliberately does not have aisle markers. Instead, the staff enjoy guiding customers to the product they need.
“We never give a customer ‘the finger,'” general manager Jose Cruz said, referring to how they escort customers.
The store, which opened on June 23 and held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday attended by many community members, sells car oil, batteries, accessories, filters, car air fresheners , retail cleaners and paint, and more.
“We’re the preferred destination,” Cruz said. “I look forward to being the go-to for parts.”
Advance Auto Parts also ships products. They install windshield wipers and do battery installations for free. They also replace air filters and perform free battery tests and determine why the check engine light is on.
“The store is service-focused and a one-stop-shop,” Cruz said.
The store has nine employees, who currently work full-time and part-time. They average 45 customers per day and are looking to increase that to 100 customers per day.
When Cruz’s wife gave birth to their first child, he was allowed to take paternity leave and worked online from home. Employees also benefit from sick leave and vacation days. Cruz said he felt like he and his family were taken care of.
Store staff also aim to empower customers by showing them how to fix their cars themselves. The staff is also mostly bilingual to help customers who speak Spanish.
New employees undergo three months of training when they join the staff. Employees must be 18 to work and 20 to drive for deliveries.
The store will host a DIY event in September where customers can learn how to check fluids and brakes and learn basic care for their cars.
“With advances in technology, it’s easy to help customers. Service is quick and easy,” Cruz said.
Business has been steady since the store opened.
“We’re excited to be open,” Cruz said.
Cruz expects a lot of business from Chico State students when school is in session. Students ask for batteries, headlights, installation bulbs, wiper blades and filters. There are also plenty of older customers who shopped at the store when it was Pep Boys.
“Older people often say, ‘I’ve been shopping here since before you were born,'” Cruz said.
Advance Auto Parts is open Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The store is located at 1555 Mangrove Ave. The store will hold its grand opening on August 27 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. complete with food trucks, music and old school and muscle cars. The store can be found on Instagram at Advance Auto Chico.
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