New Year, New Stew's Self Service Garage Location
What a way to end the year! On December 30th, 2021 we signed a lease on a building in Auburn, WA! We started this process in September of 2021, and were able to get it across the finish line to end the year. We are so excited to finally add another location, serving an even greater geographic area in Washington. The hunt for a second location has been on going for the past 2-3 years. We’ve primarily focused on going South, for a couple reasons I’ll outline below. We wouldn’t settle for a building that didn’t exactly fit our needs, leading to the search taking some time. I’m happy to say, an ideal location has been found!
Our plan is to operate a total of 10 DIY bays in the space. We plan to have 8 2-post lifts, and 2 4-post lifts. We’ll also be able to have a sizable tool room, and should be able to accommodate more specialty type tools and equipment. There is still a lot of work to do on the building, but we’ll detail that below!
We started looking for another location about 2-3 years ago. While buildings would pop up in the search, there wasn’t anything really grabbing our attention as an ideal location. We stayed patient and in September 2021 our broker, Matt, came through. The old Stan’s Headers building was hitting the market, and we jumped on top of the opportunity. I got down there and toured it a couple days later and recognized this is what we were looking for. The building would allow direct drive in bays, and we’d be able to have 10 bays. There are other factors that go into the ideal location, but that post would become exceptionally long. It was exciting to tour a building and immediately the vision was there on how a Stew’s Self Service Garage would work there.
Since it was originally built for an automotive business, there are a lot of things that are in place that will make this building great for us. The parking lot is flat, and the entrance is not steep which will be a welcome sight for those in low cars. The building was built specifically to accommodate direct drive in bays, making getting into a bay a lot easier for people instead of needing to make multi-point turns inside the building. Because it was originally an exhaust shop, they’d run the cars a lot, and this design allows you to easily run a hose to the outside and not have to worry about fuming everyone out inside. Overall, we are loving everything about this building and location!
Why did we focus on looking for a location more in the South end? While we do receive requests to put a garage in numerous locations, South was by far and large the most requested. We also have an existing customer base in the area to help support this location at opening. Both of those factors greatly influenced our decision to make our second location South of our original in Kirkland. I look forward to the success of our South end location, as it will allow us continued expansion throughout the state and greater North West area.
We are so incredibly excited to share the news with everyone! What’s next though is a lot of waiting sadly. We are in the process of getting to the permitting stage for the building improvements we need to make. The other thing is liquidating a lot of the equipment and other stuff in the building as we won’t have a use for it. Part of the deal was that we would liquidate all the equipment, so we’ve got some work to do on that front as well. I’d love to be able to share an opening date with you in this blog post, but we aren’t quite ready for that announcement yet. We are on track for a 2022 opening, but we aren’t sure if that will be mid or late 2022 yet.
There is a lot of work to be done, from building improvements, to tool and equipment purchases, to hiring, and more. There’s lessons to be learned, and mistakes to make, but I’m excited for the new challenge. I wrote the business plan for Stew’s Self Service Garage in my dorm room in the winter of 2012. It took almost 2 years to open the first location, and all I wanted was to just get open and see what would happen. After a few years of operations and learning a lot, I just wanted to get to opening a second location. We are now 7 years past the opening of our first location, and we are getting ready to open the next one. This is an exciting chapter, and I am really looking forward to starting it.
As this is an expansion, our Kirkland location will remain open. You’ll see some minor changes in Kirkland as we test out things for our second location, but it will remain largely the same.
I can’t wait to see you all at the grand opening for Stew’s Self Service Garage in Auburn! For now, I’ll leave you with a gallery of the building as it is now.