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Where was the Western Auto store in downtown Wilmington?

Ben Steelman
Western Auto

The Ahrens Building at 110-112 Market St. was home to Western Auto Supply from 1964 to 1980. (Courtesy New Hanover County Public Library Digital Archives)

In a couple of places. The Wilmington City Directory shows the Western Auto Supply store at 101 S. Front St., Wilmington [Map this], (later 111 S. Front St., Wilmington [Map this]) from 1952 to 1963. By the time the 1964 directory came out, though, it was at 112 Market St., Wilmington [Map this]. In 1972, Western Auto moved over to 805 N. Third St., Wilmington [Map this], where it remained until 1984.

In the 1960s, Western Auto advertising emphasized “Fishing Supplies” as much as “Automotive Parts & Accessories.” In 1960, Melvin B. Hoke was store manager, and the store phone number was RO-ger 3-3357 and 3-3358.

A second Western Auto location was opened at 1318 S. College Road, Wilmington [Map this], for most of the 1970s.

Western Auto Supply Co. was founded in 1909 in Kansas City, Mo., by George Pepperdine, who later endowed Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. In 1987, the company was purchased by Sears Roebuck, which continued to operate freestanding Western Auto stores until 1998. Sears then sold the Western Auto line to Advance Auto Parts.

Advance Auto discontinued its Western Auto line in the United States in 2003. (It survives in Puerto Rico.) However, independent Western Auto stores continue to operate in a number of towns, including Siler City, N.C.

User-contributed question by:
Willie Green

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One Response to “ Where was the Western Auto store in downtown Wilmington?”

  1. On November 20, 2010 at 1:43 pm John wrote:

    Western Auto, when Sears owned the franchise, was also operating under the trade name “Parts America” and had a location on Market Street beside the IHOP and the now defunct Circuit City. I went there for auto parts and they used to sell Craftsman hand tools such as screwdriver sets, combination wrenches, and ratchet/socket sets (some instances the tools were slightly cheaper than the prices at the local Sears store).

    When Sears sold the business to Advance Auto Parts, then it became Advance Auto Parts that I still do business with.