Sunday, December 30, 2007


today's rant will go a seperate direction, still spewing hate towards a retail giant, but this time, the biggest of the big, the one and only Walmart. the players are different, but the end results are all the same, pushing the concept of cheap cheap cheap, damn the results of the others, we are going for the jugular.
when i was a younger man, i was enthralled by the glitz and prices of the big box seller; it was like a staple of life, get paid on friday and by saturday after work, we loaded up the car for the trip to wally world, and a few hours later, unload all the crap at home and by monday, start the cycle all over again. as i aged(ah wisdom at the expense of humor), i came to loathe Walmart; like it's ilk of previous years, Kmart, the giant was going thru growing pains, after taking ahold of an area and laying wake to all the lesser stores, the decay sets in. admit it, try to shop at any Walmart; once you get thru the door, of so-called community groups hawking popcorn or cookies, you are greeted at the door by what looks like the "crypt-keeper", freshly dug up from his tomb and propped up by the carts to scare most small children...once you get inside, and try to get past the crowds at the understaffed return/service center, you may get a cart, or at least something that even the most jaded homeless preson would even turn their noses up at. as you swerve to avoid the 450lb people, too lazy and fat to walk, who are racing up and down the aisles like a bad nascar race and their offspring who are riding bikes and scooters up and down the busy paths, maybe i didn't need that small bottle of asprin after all( i need a gun, oops, they sell them there too).all indications that most southern comedians are right, only ugly people breed..but i am not here to complain of the clientel of the famed store, but of its tactics and policies as per-se.
you see, as the great dumbing down of america takes place and henry ford is rolling over in his grave, the average median income is coming down in record time, as the average income of third world countries is going up; karl marx would really be dancing in his, knowing that socialism is alive and working very well; soon, we all will be able to afford $10,000 cars and happy meals from mcdonalds as dinner , who is single handled responsible for this raping of the america as we know it? you got it, the big happy smiling face, reminding you about the new lower prices of stuff you need, not made in america, for our best interests, bought and sold by the chinese government. you could round up in any given walmart supercenter, all american products and they wouldn't fill the men's bathroom. it is a shame, but the truth. but the same is happening in our own industry as well, look at the contents of the parts you sell, in the interests of the ever budgetminded consumers, the value priced items, are all made in the land of the big red flag as well; hell, even general motors has said, 25% of its parts content, will be made in, it stands to reason, with a population of over a billion people, the consumer market place china represents, is way larger than here and europe combined; so it makes sense, if you are going to build it there anyway, spread the costs all over; just good business sense. but from a country who blanantly reverse engineers a bmw and calls it something else, some thing is lost in the fit and finish and quality as a whole; cheap knock offs, no matter where made, are still jsut that, cheap knock-offs.
whether you shop at Target, Autozone, Krogers, or even my own store, if we just made a consious effort to buy and demand, quality made products, not just american made ones, we all will live happier and perhaps a more enrichened one as well.

Sunday, December 23, 2007


if there ever was a car line that defies all conventitual logic, it would be the volkswagen car line up, with the bug out front and the a1-to current generation line up of rabbits/golfs/jettas...there just isn't too many other real lines that brings out the joy of ownership that this one does. many cars and trucks also envoke passion, but generally with a few ownership changes, where a vw will go thru owner after owner and keep the same basic chassis and like a teen age girl at the GAP, change looks to reflect the mood and passion of this new owners.some times it is almost too funny how a car can go from stock for many years, change to a go fast go-cart for a few years, a college girls powder puff for 4 years, then a mall beater for some skate rats and back to a classic restoration project in its life time. just like the willy's original jeep, you could almost build a brand new vw, abet a 1969 one, from parts bought from JC Whitney or like type catalogs. in a marketers sense, it is the perfect car; so many of them are still going and going; and keep on needing parts. one warehouse/ parts supplier for vw's based here in michigan, has such a bad reputation that no matter how many customers he pisses off, the next owner of the car will buy from him again, then the vicious circle keeps on going and going, so the car stays with him, just a new face and victim to rob from.
many car companies are starting to accept that the love affair we have with our cars is hard wired to us; build it and we'll keep coming back for more; a classic is timeless, and in some instances, such as the vw, it is immortal.


unlike the tag, this is an issue that affects all retail and service type sales; here in the cooler climes, one bane of the windy and blistery days, it grows tiring seeing plastic bags, from all kinds of sales stores, caught up in the bare arms of the trees, blowing like weather vanes, abet much uglier, in all directions, until they free their selves or some one tires of them and removes the visual eyesore for us. lets revert back to the paper bags; i try to use only paper boxes, ala like sam's club or costco, to give my customers to carry their items with; it saves my store space of empty boxes and reuses the potential they still have as storage, to someone else. for each and every one we pass on, another tree thanks us, for one less plastic bag caught up in its loving embrace of the sunlight and air we breathe.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


one place the jobber/independent parts store still has beaten the big box retailers at is the heavily competitive market place of the installers. sure, in many places, they have started to make some noise, but overall, the service industry of automotive repair is worlds different than the d.i.y. market place for the most part(there are rare cases of similiarities, but i am dealing with the overall topic at hand).
the big box retailers are all about is king; it is how they have become the 800lb monkey's they are; when you have a limited amount of payables, and get the bulk of your business paid for in matter of days, it is a marketer's dream. for the independent repair shops, as well as large companies as well, credit is a way of life. ask any jobber store, collectables are at a all time high with most recievables at over 45 days on the adds up folks, and it takes the precious cash terms the big boys enjoy away. sure, they can and do offer attractive terms on credit cards, issued in their names, but with some one else toting the note, it continues to make business sense, but can they compete when money gets tight for the repair shop? no, its c.o.d. again, and those plain white ford rangers sit parked infront of their buildings.
kinda ironic at the least; all those years of 3-5% kickbacks for paid bills, paid labour claims and no hassle returns from NAPA and others, have spoiled the repair shops; how many repair shops proudly have a AUTOZONE repair shop sign out front? none i am willing to bet, and won't be in any time soon either. the low paid ex-TACOBELL employees working at these so called parts stores, whose turn over rate approaches fast food service records as well, don't have the mechanic/tech mentality to focus or service the wants and needs of the repair industry; we aren't talking about rocket science here, but nor are we talking about the foo-foo retail parts that the repair industry doesn't want or need either.
we'll take one small victory at a time and when the giants have fallen, there will be peace, joy and happiness once again in the automotive parts industry.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


to all the parts manufactors; please please please, give it a rest. i am talking about the parts box packaging. in all the wonderful, marketing and wisdom that you have been lead to believe, no matter how good the package is, how informative the words are, and in the final end use, knowing fully well the package is not installed on the car, that box will be torn open just like a christmas present on the 25th of december. and in the best of all worlds, there will be returns of the above said product as well, for what ever reasons; so to make it easier on all parties involved, please just make the boxes easy to open and at the least, have some certain type of coating that repells grease,water and fingerprints. just like the dented can of beans on the shelves at the store, the greasy, torn open box, repaired as best as we counter people can, will never be sold, no matter what the contents hold. that mental stigma, of the pre-installed, tested on some one else's car, cannot be over come. so no matter, what it comes down to, make our job easier and save all of us the grief, make the boxes mechanic and customer proof...if we want child proof containers, we'll sell prescription drugs instead.
on the same lines, this is the new millenia; no small packages should be sold, that are not able to be resealed. spend the extra pennies, pass on the cost, but make the small display parts able to be resealed as well...god knows how many times customers and parts swappers rip open the blister packages, only to announce that its wrong or doesn't fit, and once again, away we go with a unsalable product. granted, once you sold the product, its gone and you have very little to worry about, other than warranties or liablitities issues; but for the guys and gals who are in the trenches, shilling your products, make our jobs easier and maybe, we'll find selling your stuff profitable to us as well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


ever notice when you go to the big box retail parts stores, the lack of the one thing that made the parts store what it was in the male bonding universe? the, not the body function, but the stool the parts person or customers would saddle up to when they came up to the counter for service and a few good words.
taking a page from the fast food businesses, retail parts chains have done away from the last bastion of male glory, the stool.think about it, fast food joints don't want you to stay long in the store, get you in, get you out, hard cold fiberglass seats, and cold, uninviting vinyl to ensure your quick turn around in and out....same thing with taking away the stools, now parts customers, have no reason to comfortably sit or stand around and talk shop or anything, nope, now the guise is to get you in and out in a jiffy, and heaven forbid any counterperson get equally comfortable; no, the idea is invoices per hour and if you are sitting still, you are not part of the team.
now before you all get your panties in a knot, i am going to tell you that alot of this is due to women; aha, you say..i knew it, he is a woman hater...hell no, god knows i love them, but their buying habits have been studied by those same highly educated, coporate raiders and they have decided for the good of the parts stores, turn the experience into a "Walmart"(no help found here) shopping trip, get in and get out,next please.the socially correct scholars have decided for us that the male bonding and social good old boy stuff had to stop.hell, many jobber type stores have been buying into this same belief when their so-called buying group decides it wants to try and enforce the same type rules and sales objectives as well...out goes the stools.remember the old off colored joke about how to confuse (insert favorite enthic group) by placing them in a round room and telling them to pee in the corner?..well, same thing, take a group of back yard mechanics, parts swappers and turn them loose in a big box part store...the glazed, deer in the headlights mommie, i am lost. it's just not what we are hard wired take a woman and let her drag her politically correct partner into the same part store and she'll lead him in and out in record time, no add ons, no extras and hell no, sitting around. might as well put in a few powder rooms and some fruity drinks and you'll have a starbucks/borders bookstore in a minute.
come on fellas, or even ladies, lets make the parts buying and selling experience what it once was, fun, entertaining and most of all, give us back our damn stools.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


lowbrow parts/ welcome to my world. i am a 26 year veteran of the automotive parts industry and have been involved in all aspects of the business short of manufacture. in my time in this fun filled field, i have learned and seen alot, many things i am proud of and many, i shake my head and wonder what is it we have come to.
i also write an article published monthly in a trade magazine for this fine industry, but i am unable to name it or myself, for the pure and simple fact i have no love or like for the false god of this industry, the big box retail chains. for this reason, so as to keep my other gig and my editor and his advertisors happy, it is best i remain secret.
i will not be cowed down or shut up by what i see is the terrible plight the retail industry has wrought upon our fine business models and what will become of our trade as a whole. i will speak up, not to be silenced, by the truths that need to be spoken and heard. in an era of political correctness, no one wants to step on the toes of the 800 lb monkey called AUTOZONE, or any other like so-called retail parts chains.there has been too much removal of the human aspect of this business that the hundreds of high paid sales marketing people and corporate board rooms have seen fit to take away and replaced with thousands of low paid worker drones unable to garnish a trade from this profession and now rank among the low paid service industry such as McDonalds and 7-11 as skilled help.
i hope that you will join me in this battle, for what once was a great career and an honest one at that. my posts will be torrid and pull no punches. i hope that you'll join my revolution in what has become yet another loss of the middle class icon of america itself, the paid professional.