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The building that housed Camel Back Antique and Flea Market was demolished in July to make way for a $1.3 million, 14,000-square-foot building on the Rick's Automotive campus.
The building that housed Camel Back Antique and Flea Market was demolished in July to make way for a $1.3 million, 14,000-square-foot building on the Rick's Automotive campus.

Rick's Auto plans $1M expansion

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By spring 2011, O’Reilly Auto Parts will no longer be getting free advertising from Rick’s Automotive. The auto repair shop is adding a new building, making it more visible from South Campbell Avenue.

“We always had to announce that we were located behind O’Reilly’s,” said owner Rick Hughlett. “We won’t have to do that anymore.”

After a number of unsuccessful attempts to buy the site of Camel Back Antique and Flea Market, 2139 S. Campbell Ave., from Dawson Properties LLC, Hughlett said he was finally able to seal the deal for an undisclosed purchase price. In July, the building was demolished to make room for a $1.3 million, 14,000-square-foot Rick’s Auto building that will serve the company’s quick-service and tire customers. Construction is expected to begin in September immediately south of the O’Reilly store, and Hughlett is targeting a May 2011 completion.

The business also will have three-quarters of an acre of extra parking space north of O’Reilly. Before buying the flea market site, Hughlett purchased the former Animal Care Center site expecting to build there instead.

“We designed a building to be built there. … We always wanted to buy the flea market building, but that owner wasn’t going to sell,” he said. “We went back (to Dawson Properties) one more time before we broke ground and they said, ‘Yes.’ So the Animal Care Center space we’ll make into a large, attractive landscaped parking lot.”

According to Rick’s General Manager Tim Cummings, the company’s tire business, and maintenance services such as oil changes, safety inspections and brake- or bulb-light replacements has increased to a point where same-day service requests are difficult to meet, he said. The expansion will add 10 bays to the existing 18, he said, and the new bays primarily will be used for services that take less than an hour.

“It’s a way to better serve our customers, that’s the biggest thing. I don’t like telling a 20-year customer that I can’t get his oil changed for four days,” he said. “When they call us up in the morning, I want to say, ‘Sure. Is now a good time for you?’”

Rick’s Automotive occupies two 6,500- square-foot buildings at 2121 S. Campbell Ave. The first was built in 1988, and a second was constructed by Stinson & Co. LLC-- – the same general contractor hired for the new building – in 2000 to handle the company’s fleet service. Hughlett said Rick’s services 110 fleets of different sizes, including ambulances for 16 counties, J. Howard
Fisk Limousines vehicles and Missouri State University shuttle buses.

“A normal conversation now starts with, ‘Am I in the right building?’” Hughlett said. “This will tie all three together.”

Once the expansion is complete, customers will drive into an enclosed space and walk to a central customer service area, he said. According to Brian Kubik, project architect and partner at BKDCreative, the space was designed with customers in mind.

“He’s been a typical automotive shop. He’s always had a clean building, but he hasn’t had a lot of waiting space,” Kubik said. “Now, there’s a common area.”

Another add-on will be new Saturday hours. Since Rick’s opened in 1980, the business has been Monday through Friday, Hughlett said, and the Saturday hours will better accommodate quick-service and tire customers.

Additionally, Hughlett said the expansion is a nice way to top off 30 years of business.
“October will be our 30-year anniversary, and to be able to be expanding into a new building, it’s nice,” Hughlett said.[[In-content Ad]]


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