Thanks to Car Parts Warehouse, one of the top 25 aftermarket car parts distributors in the U.S., many drivers are probably stopping their cars more efficiently.
There’s a good chance that if someone bought a car at a dealership in Northeast Ohio, had it repaired there or at a service station, or did the work ar home, the needed brake parts were distributed by Car Parts Warehouse. This past March, the company opened its newest warehouse and retail store in a former Walmart store in Elyria.
“Brake parts are our biggest category, including pads and rotors. It’s what we call ‘under-the-car’ parts, things that have motion and wear out,” says Tony Di Fiore, owner, Car Parts Warehouse. “But a lot more cars have sensors now. They don’t necessarily wear out, but they fail after a time.”
And unfortunately, so do many large traditional big box discount stores and department stores in today’s new world of online and nontraditional shopping. When Car Parts Warehouse announced its intention to consolidate its Norwalk and Lorain facilities and move to its present 13-acre property next to Midway Mall, Elyria’s revitalization plan got a great boost.
“Seventy to 80 percent of what we do is business to business, and 20 percent is retail,” says Di Fiore, whose company employs 20 people in Elyria and 450 in Northeast Ohio. “So, for us it’s location, location, location. Being right by the Ohio Turnpike (Interstate 80), state Route 57 and Interstate 90 makes everything accessible. And, the size and space of the building allowed us to do what we wanted to do. We are about 90 percent warehouse and 10 percent retail in Elyria.”
Elyria Mayor Holly Brinda says Car Parts Warehouse is one of three companies all within about an eighth of a mile of each other that have chosen to grow their businesses in Elyria. The others include Johnny K’s Powersports and Discount Fashion Warehouse.
Johnny K’s is a major source in the state for equipment, parts and service focusing on motorcycles, personal watercraft, ATVs, motorboats and more. According to Brinda, owner Johnny Kalogerou (KE Elyria) also consolidated several of his stores for the Elyria move. The company extended its product line and moved to the former Macy’s department store at Midway Mall in 2018. The city’s Community Improvement Corporation provided an investment loan to help secure the deal. Twenty people are employed there.
“Also, across from the mall there was a vacant Office Max store that has become home to the Columbus-based Discount Fashion Warehouse,” says Brinda. “You won’t find another Discount Fashion Warehouse anywhere near this one.”
The discounted men and women’s clothing, shoe and accessory store opened in 2017 after being a pop-up shop in Elyria.
“The Elyria community has been very welcoming to Discount Fashion Warehouse,” says company owner Jeff Bradshaw. “We really appreciate the support all the way, from the mayor’s office throughout the community.”
Brinda says the city’s retail recovery is on the right track.
“Our mall, like every other mall, faces challenges and is in various stages of redevelopment,” says Brinda. “These companies are regional businesses. You won’t find any others nearby, and people will drive from a distance to go there.”
Midway Mall is the largest enclosed mall in Lorain County. Brinda said the revitalization of shuttered buildings is part of the city’s overall master redevelopment strategy. To make the area more attractive to residents and potential business, the entryway to the section of town was reconfigured and S.R. 57 was widened.
“We also removed the 49th Street Bridge, known locally as ‘The Bridge to Nowhere.’ That action improved a high crash area and permitted access to the entire Midway region,” says Brinda.
Di Fiore noted that cooperation between his team and the city’s key players, including the fire and building departments, allowed the move to go well.
“Even though the building we moved into had been empty for several years, it was in fine shape. “Buildings are being re-purposed,” says Di Fiore. “There has to be some flexibility with [new] businesses to allow that to happen. Otherwise buildings will stay vacant. Elyria understands that.”