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Long-time business owner closes 85-year-old shop

After many years of working 12-hour days running a busy family auto repair shop, Chuck Smith knew it was time for a change.

Smith and his wife, Betty, made the difficult decision to close the 85-year-old business. (Photo taken by Josh Heath)

Smith owned Smitty’s Auto Service – located at 1428 Gordon Highway, for 25 years, but he worked at the shop for more than 50 years until it closed on Friday, Sept. 3. “It was the only job I ever had,” says Smith, whose grandfather started the business in 1936 near the intersection of Milledgeville and Olive Roads. In high school, he was responsible for opening and closing Smitty’s. As owner, Smith, 65, worked at the shop from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., while his wife, Betty, worked from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. He states customers would often drop off their cars at 6:30 a.m. “Because they knew I would be here.” Smith states the couple’s son also worked with them, but he decided to leave after seeing how hard his parents worked. “It was more than he wanted to take on,” he says.

Those long hours and the physical demands of the job began to take their toll on the couple. “We were running around here like we were 30-year-olds,” Smith explains. “But we’re not 30 years old anymore or 40 years old, we’re not even 50 years old.” He will undergo surgery soon, and they didn’t have anyone to take over the business. After thinking and praying about the situation, the Smiths made the difficult decision to close Smitty’s and retire. Smith hasn’t decided what he’ll do with the shop yet, but he has received a few calls from people wanting to buy it. “One man wanted to buy the shop and the name,” Smith states. “Smitty’s (the business name) is not for sale.”

Chuck Smith – Owner of Smitty’s Auto Service for 25 years, has a collection of letters and cards from customers on the walls in the shop’s office. (Photo taken by Josh Heath)

With 85 years in business, the shop had many loyal customers. “We had third and fourth-generation customers, and that’s what I’ll miss,” he adds. On the walls in the shop’s office, Smith has a collection of letters and thank-you cards received from customers over the years. A Facebook post about Smitty’s closing also generated many positive comments from former customers. For example, Dori Brown says it was “the only auto shop who let me make payments years ago. They were the best.” Scott Dean, another loyal customer, agrees. “I took all of my trucks there,” Dean states. “It was a good company.”

While the fourth-generation business has closed, Smith’s brother, Darren, runs another family business, Smith Tire Co. located across the street at 1417 Gordon Highway.

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