From Trash to Treasure: Auto Parts Yard Sees Upswing With Dream Cruise
To be part of the Woodward Dream Cruise, you sometimes need the right part for your cruiser. That’s when you go to Parts Galore.The auto parts yard –with two locations in Detroit with plans for a third downriver–has been in business for only a few years. WWJ’s Ron Dewey was touring the yard on W. Warren near Livernois with Parts Galore president Bill Wild.
The business flies in the face of a typical auto junk yard…but don’t call it that. This is a used auto parts retail facility, according to Wild. This location used to be three industrial sites that were environmentally cleaned and developed. A spacious parking lot is out front with a simple building in the middle and the yard out in back, covering 25 acres. The yard itself is clean and neat. The 2,500 cars for salvage are lined up in rows, up on blocks and categorized by make model and type. Classics–toward the back–make up approximately five percent or less of his business.
“There’s not many places around that have the stuff for old or classic cars. We’re one of the few places that let the customers go out in the yard look at them and pull their own parts,” says Wild, with prices 60 to 70 percent below what a regular yard will charge for parts they pull from salvages.
“Everything is flat rate pricing. The price for the door of a Toyota is the same for a door to a Cadillac,” Wild said. “Forty-five to 60 days is how long the cars stay here.”
Out in the yard, you notice the cars are on concrete or limestone. The cars are environmentally cleansed. There’s a 17-step process they go though before they are placed in the yard.
The yard is user-friendly, with a shelter, picnic table and soda machine in the middle where one can take a break. “We’re completely handicap-accessible,” Wild said. “It’s not uncommon to see women out here in high heels.”
The yard allows customers to remove parts from cars, as long as they use their own tools. Wheelbarrows and A-frame carts are provided for engines and other heavy parts.
When it comes to classics, Wild says enthusiasts are after the hard-to-find chrome parts, such as door handles, tail lights and such. But they also go after the larger necessities such as sheet metal. “You’ll see where they take almost the whole car,” he said.
During Cruise Week, Wild sees an overall increase in business. But he also has people who take their own Dream Cruise by walking around his yard, looking at what used to be the classics.
“On the weekends it’s almost like a date,” Wild said. “You’ll see men and women holding hands walking though here, ‘You remember when we went out in that?’ or ‘Remember what we did in that car?'”
Wild says they also see a lot of fathers and daughters getting parts. “It’s really touching to see…it’s just a good experience that will live with the daughter for the rest of her life,” he said, noting he is partial with daughters of his own.
Even with all the classics and the potential of returning them to their previous glory, Wild says the he hasn’t been bitten by the restoration bug.
“I already eat and drink cars,” as he has the past 45 years, he said. “I don’t want to sleep with them.”
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