By Ron VandenBoom
Therere 7,000 square feet of storage and display space at Havres new Checker Auto Store on West First Street and according to store manager Dennis Cox, the store is 98 percent full.
Weve still got a truck coming in ... but weve got plenty of room, Cox said.
Checker Auto Parts carries a large assortment of all the necessary items used by the backyard do-it-yourself mechanic to the professional or commercial auto repairman.
I think Checker has something to offer anybody, Cox said. We sell wash and wax products and filters for the person who just wants to change their own oil and we also have a commercial program where (commercial accounts) can get a break on price.
Its all part of what Cox said is part of the corporate strategy, citing a change in brand names over the last two years to what he calls really top of the line stuff.
We offer quality parts at a low price, he said. That seems to be where the trend is going as far as what the customers want.
Checker offers a what Cox called our price beat policy that will match the best price of any other parts distributor and knock off an additional five percent for comparable parts. The policy applies only to retail prices since commercial accounts already receive discounts.
Checker appears to be a company that is on the move in the auto parts industry, with new stores opening all the time in what Cox referred to as secondary markets like Havre. Secondary markets are communities that have a smaller population base.
Were trying to cement our hold on our markets, so were trying to move into the smaller communities, he said. We like to have a neighborhood store concept.
All new Checker Auto Stores are either 7,000, 8,000, or 12,000 square feet, based on the communitys population, Cox said.
Further evidence of Checkers success can be seen in the recent acquisition of 84 Big Real Rossie Stores in the upper Midwest that will now be converted to Checker Auto Stores.
Adding to Checkers success will be their soon to begin free delivery and an expanded line of performance parts.
The new Havre store currently has only 12 feet of shelving dedicated to performance parts, but, according to Cox, the company is really moving in that direction.
I think thats probably where weve made our biggest change, Cox said.
Cox refers to souping up the car as a family activity that today is composed of as many women as men.
Also planned for future expansion is a larger selection of agricultural parts that Cox knows will be in demand in this part of the country. He admits that there is a limit to what is available, because Checker is still primarily an auto parts store, but thats something were really looking at, he said. We have to focus on those.
A grand opening is planned for July 17, Cox said, but many of the details are still to be worked out.
He does expect to be serving pop and coffee, and maybe some hot dogs and hamburgers, and there will also be hourly drawings, he said. Cox added that he also believed there would be a shopping spree among all of the Checker stores that are having opening on that day.
Checker is open for business 363 days a year closed only on Christmas and Thanksgiving.
Hours of operation through the summer are Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.