Thursday, March 1, 2012

Requiem for a Small Business

Small businesses go under every day.  But this business was special and made a difference in a lot of lives here in Westover.

Tony B's Tires in Westover, near Johnson City, New York, was closed yesterday with a real estate sign hanging on the door.  This came suddenly.  They were open as late as Monday.

They weren't just a tire shop. They just weren't auto mechanics.  They were a Westover institution.

What happened?  We knew Tony was ailing.  But we knew the business was ailing too.  The flood our area suffered on September 7-8, 2011 due to Tropical Storm Lee affected a lot of businesses.  Ironically, Tony B's was open, at least by Monday, September 12.  But enough of their business came from BAE Industries, a block down the road, and BAE's building was flooded, taking 1300 jobs with them.  The building isn't salvageable and will be torn down.  I understand that yesterday was their last day (a skeleton crew has been working there since November) in Westover,  After the flood, BAE moved, at least temporarily, to a site about 5 miles down the road.

It took enough of Tony's business with them, apparently.

Do you know what else it took?  Caring and compassionate service. And not just for people who had their cars fixed there or bought their tires there. (We did both).  Tony and his staff spent countless hours with neighborhood teens, including my son.  My son learned a lot of his auto repair skills from them and wthey ere unfailingly patient.  They stayed open late once to help out a relative of mine from NYC who was visiting.
The first few years he was open, he would hold a birthday party for his business, complete with prizes.  My son was young then, and attended with the other neighborhood kids.  One year I won a picnic cooler and some accessories.  I had it for years.

We were customers of his for years.  My spouse was there last month and they didn't give any indication they were about to close.  He would have gone back next month. My son just had his car inspected there about a month ago.  Now they are gone.

Another small business gone.  They will be hard to replace.

A story repeated too many times.

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