Every year they come from far and wide to the Big O Tires store in Page, Ariz. Not for the great tires or service. Not for the friendly faces.
They come for the sheep.
Each year during their store's anniversary, owners Bob and Jim Jones give away a dozen of the livestock. The attraction, which Jim Jones said attracts more people every year-the number swelled to 2,000 this past year-triples the store's sales on anniversary day, as attendees await the drawing to see who will take the wool-coated creatures home.
The store is located near Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations. Livestock, especially sheep, are coveted. Jim Jones said he has had people come from as far as 300 miles away to attend the annual event. ``People are asking about it all year long,'' he said. ``It's a pretty neat deal.''
The sheep tradition actually began in 1989 at the store's grand opening. Sheep were given away in lieu of turkeys or hams. The event, Jim Jones said, was the brainchild of Big O Vice President Roy Gunnell.
``It's just fun,'' said Mr. Jones, who co-owns the store with his brother. ``You should see how some people take them home. They come in pick-up trucks and family cars.''
Jim Jones said that 90 percent of his 4,500-sq.-ft., six-bay store's business comes from the two tribes' reservations. That number includes a good portion of BFGoodrich all-terrain light truck tires, which Mr. Jones said are the store's most popular tires. The outlet also sells Big O brand tires and other BFGoodrich products, along with American Eagle and American Racing custom wheels.
Mike Fahey has developed a nice crop of regular customers during the 35 years his Village Garage and Tire in Glen Ellyn, Ill., has been in business.
Now, he's faced with the potential quandary of how he's going to keep getting them into the store, literally. Thanks to urban expansion, the local government plans to reconfigure the roadway adjacent to Mr. Fahey's converted gas station.
As a result, he faces the potential contraction of his parking area by some 55,000 square feet and the loss of about 22 parking spaces.
Perhaps equally costly, Mr. Fahey said the additional traffic lane will make it more difficult for people to get in and out of his store. ``It's going to make it more difficult to navigate (based on the vastly decreased parking lot size),'' he said.
The disconcerting thing about all this for Mr. Fahey was that he was never contacted formally about the changes. He saw road surveyors outside his shop but didn't know what they were doing. Eventually the county asked him about taking soil samples from under his parking lot. Having just poured $18,000 into resurfacing, he refused.
This came after spending nearly $100,000 to remove old gas pumps to convert from a gas station to a tire and auto service store.
The initial problem, Mr. Fahey said, stemmed from traffic volume, which has gradually increased throughout his years in business. His store sits on a three-street intersection referred to as the ``Five Corners,'' where a three-way traffic light can create long back-ups.
``It's going to hamstring us a little,'' Mr. Fahey said of the lot changes, which he says are a done deal since the county has already poured a lot of money into surveying and gotten county engineers involved. ``I hope we don't lose customer,'' he said.
According to the Chicago Daily Herald, the DuPage County Board has voted to condemn the part of Mr. Fahey's land that is in question, in addition to the property of an adjacent business.
This came after Mr. Fahey refused to negotiate a settlement with the county, the Herald reported; he has hired a lawyer to represent him in the matter.
Village Garage and Tire is a four-bay outlet that employs three full-time mechanics.
The dealership is 100-percent retail and sells Goodyear, General and Michelin brand tires.
Edmonton, Alberta-based Remington Tire Distributors Inc., a sister company of Tirecraft Auto Centers Ltd., has added four warehouses in eastern Canada during the past year, including two set to open this month.
The company is adding a 5,000 sq.-ft. facility in Fredericton, New Brunswick, and a 10,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia in mid-February. Last May, the distributor opened a 10,000-sq.-ft. facility in St. John's, Newfoundland, and an 8,500-sq.-ft. warehouse in Mississauga, Ontario.
The added warehouse space is part of Remington's plan to have a national presence across Canada, said President Chris Fletcher.
The additions give Remington 16 warehouses supplying about 6,500 dealers, Mr. Fletcher said.
``In '96 we were a western-(Canada)-based company and we felt we wanted to be national,'' he explained. ``Last year we got into the Maritime and Atlantic (provinces). And we have plans to move into Quebec in due course.''
Remington distributes Michelin, Uniroyal, BFGoodrich, Hankook, Remington, Continental and General brand tires.
O.K. Tire Stores Inc. has signed ``Mr. Hockey'' Gordie Howe to represent the company in upcoming television, radio and newspaper ads.
Mr. Howe, 74, is a veteran of 32 professional hockey seasons and is considered a Canadian sports icon. His deal with O.K. Tires was finalized with Powerplay International. The pact is effective immediately, O.K. said.
In addition to the various media spots, Mr. Howe will appear at various O.K. stores to offer dealer support, the Langley, B.C.-based company said.
``Our goal is to expand public awareness of O.K. Tire, and we intend to begin taping TV spots and radio recordings within the next three weeks,'' an O.K. spokesman said. He added that the initial plan calls for airing spots in the electronic media by mid- to late-March.