Downtown Macon tire shop moving, expanding

A downtown Macon tire store is moving.

It’s not going far — just one block over. But the new digs will be bigger with a much better atmosphere, the owner says.

Riverside Tire is relocating this weekend from the corner of Second and Pine streets to Second and Plum streets, assuming the new building passes its final inspection.

The atmosphere will change from looking — and smelling — like an old-timey garage with a “grungy bathroom that’s not heated or cooled” to an upscale automotive repair shop that’s “shiny and bright,” said owner Larry Bush.

The business will just about double its size to 10,000 square feet, and it will double its auto bays from five to 10 spaces, Bush said.

“We will be able to improve on customer service,” he said. “During peak times, we tend to get backed up.”

The new shop will have three separate waiting areas.

One is a general waiting area and a separate room is for children complete with a chalkboard wall they can write on and DVD movies they can watch.

Another separate room is a business center which will have a computer and telephone for customers to use. The business will offer WiFi for customers who use laptop computers. Customers will be able to relax on leather furniture, and there will be potpourri in the bathroom, he said adding his wife, Jennie, is helping with the decor.

A lot of the amenities “will not help me repair a car one bit better,” he said but it will help make customers more comfortable.

“All the national studies are showing that females are making more of the automotive decisions, so it makes sense to make the shop more female-friendly,” he said.

Tammy Vaughan, owner of ATV Construction, is in charge of the renovation work at the new building. Most recently, a portion of the building had been used as a print shop and another part as an auto detail shop.

“It was dirty, dirty, dirty,” Vaughan said Wednesday. “We gutted it and cleaned it up.”

Now the building sports a new dropped ceiling and new gray and white tiled floor with matching gray and white painted walls throughout the office area. The walls in the repair bays also have been painted.

Bush has been in the automotive business for 32 years, and worked for Raffield Tire Master for 15 of those years, he said.

Bush, who had leased his shop since he opened the business five years ago, bought the building at the new location.

As with some other tire stores, the business does more than put on tires and change the oil. It is a full-service facility and takes care of any kind of general vehicle repair, including working on brakes, steering, suspension, heating and air and electrical systems.

In order to compete with “the big boys” that have shops around the country, Bush’s shop is part of a network of shops that honor warranties of its repairs.

Riverside Tire caters to downtown workers, and it offers shuttle service to take customers back to work. For repairs that take more than one day, the business offers loaner vehicles, he said.

While it might seem odd to expand during a downturn in the economy, Bush has tripled his business since he opened and needs more space to serve his customers, he said.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “If you do the right thing, people will come to you. Automotive repair shops have the reputation of being crooked, but over the years I’ve done what I’ve said I was going to do. I have a lot of word-of-mouth referrals.”

Also, during the recent economy with more car dealerships closing, there is a need for more service shops like Riverside Tire, Bush said.

“The independent garages will get more of the market share,” he said.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.