'There just wasn’t enough business'

Zoe Greszler • May 27, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Car Parts Warehouse closed its wholesale auto shop at 10 Williams Ave., Norwalk.

The business, however, will continue to serve local customers from its Elyria location at 149 Midway Blvd., near the Midway Mall.

Store manager Keith Simmons said while the company still owns the building, which is for sale, it closed the local operation in late December to combine the Norwalk location with a Lorain location at the current site.

“We’re still servicing the customers in the local area, and it’s actually a whole lot quicker. There’s just no brick and mortar location there now,” Simmons said, adding that the current location is “15 to 20 times” larger than the former Norwalk site.

The business on Williams Avenue was formerly known as Parts Distributors Inc.

Parts Distributors closed in January 2016 after the sudden death of its president, Tom Olak, who was the son-in-law of owner Ken Conway. A month later, Car Parts Warehouse purchased the business and reopened it.

Conway’s father started Norwalk Parts Co., which eventually became Parts Distributors, and they worked together for many years. It continued as a family-run business as Olak  worked with Ken Conway, who died in December 2016.

Simmons said business at the Norwalk location “just never really picked up.”

“Business was a little slow, I guess,” Simmons said. “There just wasn’t enough business. ... It was in a small town and there’s definitely a small-town atmosphere where people already have the stores they go to that have been there for along time. It’s really hard to dig into that and take off.”

The manager said four people, including himself, manned the Norwalk store. He said he thinks the decision to consolidate came when the company realized it could do “better business and lower the overhead.” Simmons, who lives in the Lorain area, was the only worker who chose to accept a position in the Elyria location. He said the other three workers all lived in Huron County and wanted to find a closer job.

This represents the second auto parts store to close in Norwalk since O’Reilly Auto Parts opened 140 Milan Ave. two years ago.

Last August, Action Auto Supply at 66 Cleveland Road in Norwalk, closed its doors after doing business for more than 50 years.

Norwalk still has five auto parts stores: O’Reilly, Advance Auto Parts at 225 Milan Ave., AutoZone at 196 Milan Ave., NAPA Auto Parts-Liberty Auto Parts at 230 Republic St., and Federated Auto Parts at 75 Cline St. In addition, consumers can purchase parts through auto repair shops and dealerships in the city.

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