Why do auto parts stores that have been closed for a long time still have shelves full of parts? [Lancaster Watchdog] | Local News



Before national retailers opened auto parts chains, most parts hunters bought them from small independent stores.

In Lancaster County, one such store was Lancaster County Auto Parts, which Horace Kruger opened in 1968 along Columbia Avenue just west of the town of Lancaster.

“They had it all,” recalls Jim Fisher, who remembers shopping at the 1675 Columbia Ave store. in the early 1980s, when he was buying parts for a Volkswagen Beetle. “It seemed to be a one-stop-shop, whether foreign or domestic.”

Fisher, who grew up in the Cabbage Hill neighborhood of Lancaster, remembers the trailers full of parts parked next to what he remembers being a busy store where employees didn’t have much patience.

“The gentleman inside was a tall man, with a big beard that was sort of on point with the customers, (asking) ‘What do you want? What do you need?’ It was a little intimidating, ”he said.

But in the mid-1990s, Fisher says he shut down and the store was suddenly closed. With the rise of auto parts chain stores, the closing of a local store was not so surprising. What’s unusual about Lancaster County Auto Parts is that after a quarter of a century the parts are still on the shelves, the manuals remain stacked on the counter and there are still uncut keys hanging from a Revolving key display offering “expertly cut keys while you wait.” “

“It’s just amazing. It’s like a time capsule, ”Fisher said. “And all the parts are new. These are old new stocks. Everyone wants new old pieces rather than reproductions.

New Old Stock refers to parts ordered by a dealership or repair shop when a specific vehicle was new and then never used. For people who restore older cars, these parts are highly regarded as they generally fit better and are of higher quality than replica parts designed to mimic them.

Fisher, who now lives in Millersville, says he has long been puzzled as to what happened to the store and recently decided to contact Lancaster Watchdog to help him solve the mystery. “It’s like they’ve just left town. Everything is still on the shelves, ”he wrote.

The Old Lancaster County Auto Parts Store at 1675 Columbia Ave. has been vacant for over 20 years, but still has supplies on stacked shelves.

“I have to sell them”

Lancaster County Auto Parts appears to have closed its doors around 25 years ago, although the exact date is unclear.

A 1997 newspaper article about a theft from the store’s cash drawer is the latest reference to Lancaster County Auto Parts as an active business. A 2000 story in the Sunday News said the store had not been open “for years,” and quoted Keith Rutt, former owner of the adjacent Wheatland beer distributor, as saying it had been closed “for five to five. six years “. A 2011 newspaper ad on Horace and Marilyn Kruger’s 55th wedding anniversary stated that Kruger retired from Lancaster County Auto Parts in 2002.

Kruger, who grew up near the store, has a home in East Lampeter Township. Reached by phone, Kruger said he would like to sell the remaining pieces and then sell the property.

“I have parts in there and I have to sell them. With COVID-19, you can’t sell anything, ”he said. “A lot of people have inquired about this property. This property could be sold in about two minutes if I could mind my own business.

The property, which spans 4,000 square feet and includes a warehouse with four garage door spaces, is valued at $ 294,800, according to county records.

Kruger, who is 91, said he stops by the store almost every day, saying he is preparing to sell the parts. Kruger declined to meet with an LNP reporter at the store to discuss what’s still there and how he hopes to sell it.

“I don’t know where you are going with this or what you are looking for, but (the store) is always busy and it’s still in use,” he said before hanging up.

A longtime Wheatland Beer Distributor employee said he regularly sees who he believes is the owner of the property stopping to cut grass and trim bushes and weeds.

East Hempfield Township Manager Cindy Schweitzer said no violations were reported for the property, although she did refer to a minor theft in 2019.

Kruger’s son Steve was the store manager. A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Steve Kruger hung up after being asked to give her a message about the auto parts store.

“It’s really not your business now, is it?” ” she said.

Do you see any problems?

Email Lancaster Watchdog at [email protected], or go to LancasterOnline.com/watchdog and tell us about it.


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