Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Hagerty Employee

An ode to the humble parts-store worker

This is an ode to the humble parts-store worker. Underneath those familiar orange, green, or red marquees sit some of the automotive industry's hardest-working players. There are a few ways to spot the true professionals, though, and that knowledge comes as you get to know the folks behind the counter.


Read the full article on

Advanced Driver

Oh, YEAH! I've been fortunate over the years to have found a few parts stores and dealerships that were outstanding to work with. Always patient and friendly, and if it wasn't in stock, they'd get it ASAP.


And yep, they'd always ask about what I was working on today, or how my project car was coming.


I remember the store I used to visit when I was still wrenching while in school. To test the new guys you always ask for a Corvair radiator hose. It was shocking how many struggled with that. 

Since we were a half a block away I would often get my part and drop off the tag and have the, send a bill up later if they were busy.  By getting my own part it got my job done sooner and saved them time with other customers. That was a nice trusting relationship. 

Plus I knew their secrets. The heavy duty U joints were just a sticker added to the box and a higher price. 

Another shop was a major AC Delco dealer. Not only could I get odd things like aircraft landing lights for my Chevelle high beams AC boxes for $15 for the pair. I could get a bottle of Coke for a dime. They still stocked an old machine and still had the 1950’s price on it. You drank one just because it was 10 cents. 

Today I work for a large National parts company and the use of phone and web is a whole different ball game in so many ways. It also is ever changing. 

At time I look back at the old local stores and really miss those days. 

Advanced Driver

I find that a lot of the younger people that are behind the parts counter today are not necessarily "car" people, it's just their job. If the info is not in the computer database, then they don't have a clue. True car guys are like a precious jewel, but it seems that there is a reluctance on the part of chain parts stores to pay for their learned knowledge, while at the same time driving independent stores out of business by undercutting prices. Personally, I once had a clerk to argue that a car I was driving/seeking a part for was front wheel drive; and there is the apocryphal story of the clerk who's database only went back to 1962, so he told the customer (who drove up in a '52 Chevy) that Chevrolet didn't make cars before 1962! (IMO) even though electronics are improving cars, inaccessible components, OEM database access and factory spec required repair tools are slowly pushing the DIY mechanics and car nuts to the sidelines.
Intermediate Driver

I worked as a parts counter man for over 50 years and am one of the lucky ones to not have to retire to a padded room. Customer attitude plays a big role in the kind of service you will get. I would go the extra mile sourcing parts for someone who treated me with respect. I would never try to oversell product (like high priced snow tires to a senior who never left the city ),much to my boss's chagrin. Things like that build trust between you and your customer. At the dealership where I worked for 42 years,we had a set of parts books that went back into the 1940's and a couple of us still knew how to use them. It's amazing how many parts work for years (ignition parts for my '29 Buick are still available off the shelf) ! I had many customers that would only deal with me, but retirement was and is still welcome.