By on March 16, 2021



Advance Auto Parts announced today that they are leasing the retail space of 109 Pep Boys stores in California, for conversion into Advance Auto Parts stores in the next 9-12 months. The agreement between Advance and Pep Boys, which was signed earlier this month, does not include any Pep Boys Service Centers.


In a statement, Brian Kaner, Pep Boys CEO, said, “The agreement announced today only reinforces Pep Boys Service position as a leading repair and maintenance provider for consumers and fast-growing fleets on the West Coast. The agreement this year will provide us with an opportunity to refresh our Service Center locations and reinvest in the market to meet emerging customer needs, particularly as demand for electric vehicle service grows in the region.”


Advance stated that this move was important strategically, as they grow their chain nationally into one of the largest markets. As of January 2, Advance operated 4,806 stores, plus another 170 Worldpac branches in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. They also stock 1,277 independently-owned Carquest stores in these same locations, in addition to Mexico, Grand Cayman, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and the British Virgin Islands.

Separately, the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecasted retail sales growth between 6.5 – 8.2 percent to more than $4.33 trillion in 2021 as more of the U.S. population is vaccinated, and the economy reopens. “We are very optimistic that healthy consumer fundamentals, pent-up demand and widespread distribution of the vaccine will generate increased economic growth, retail sales and consumer spending,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president/CEO.

Early results show that retail sales in 2020 grew 6.7 percent to $4.06 trillion, which included intense pandemic disruption with online up, and brick-and-mortar stores down. Analysts at Bank of America last month selected Advance as one of four retailers they found attractive, issuing this statement: “The majority of AAP’s customers are professional auto repair shops, which were significantly hindered by the pandemic. With the pro auto service channel now in recovery, we think AAP is poised to benefit, as a recovery story with a multi-year margin growth opportunity.”

[Images: Advance Auto, Pep Boys]

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20 Comments on “Advance Auto Parts Grows its Presence in California...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I have an Advance Auto 1 mile from my house. For the last several years, I only go there if I’m desperate for a tool or a part that I need *right now* – like a car battery. Even then, I use the 25% online coupon and then pick it up.

    Otherwise, I get my sundries (oil, etc) from Walmart, and parts from RockAuto, Amazon, etc, because I have no interest in being robbed by Advance.

  • avatar

    Auto-Zone is better

  • avatar

    Awesome, another cut and paste press release! It’s amazing what you can do when you can borrow money in the credit-markets for 2.5%. Caddydaddy can’t deal with the average behind the counter monkey at the retail auto parts store. Their skill sets are about one step above an ability to read what the computer tells them.

    I stick to my locally owned NAPA store. Yes I pay about 10% more, but the service and knowledge are tip top. Unfortunately, NAPA has started to climb on the made in China and India bandwagon.

    • 0 avatar

      I hear you about the quality of the people behind the counter and the big chains. Last summer I was in need of a part their was one of those on the way. It seemed like a simple enough request, a Ford starter solenoid. It took for ever I gave him yr, make, model. So I give him year and model. Once he finally got that in he couldn’t spell and couldn’t figure out how to look it up by parts group either. No it is starter not sarter, no it is not celanod. Very frustrating 10 min to get out the store with the part.

      It gets even better when you ask them for parts for a Scout. I had one guy that insisted they wouldn’t have any parts for that and that it wouldn’t even be in the catalog. After telling him that the part in question would definitely be a normally stocking part since it is an A code part he finally agreed to look it up. The it was GM made that right. no they did make the part in question but not the vehicle. If I hadn’t been in a hurry I would have had him look up some other parts that I know they stock. In this case the part was the dimmer switch which was the same one used in millions of GM vehicles.

    • 0 avatar

      The primary reason is that (most) NAPA stores are franchises, often older independent stores that have become NAPA stores. They tend to be staffed by actual car guys, often crusty old car guys. Downside to that is that they tend to keep more regular hours, not practical when you need that part at 8pm on a Sunday.

  • avatar

    My view is that Autozone, O’Reilly, Advance, etc have given up competing on price and sell to the “gotta have it today” folks in process of getting something back on the road. NAPA has traditionally been higher priced but have some counter people with expertise.

    I typically use the Rockauto lookup (like their system) and then cross shop on Amazon and Summit and pick the best deal.

    • 0 avatar

      I use NAPA, the staff at my local one is incredibly knowledgable. I also get trade pricing through my work so it winds up being about the same as rockauto.

  • avatar

    I have neither the time nor the patience to drive to an auto parts store anymore. A while back my wife’s car had what appeared to be a slow leak in the radiator. I went online with Rock Auto and ordered a radiator, antifreeze, hoses, thermostat and a new radiator cap and amazingly it arrived in three days, free shipping. The radiator was under $100. Took me all of two hours to install. I would have spent that much time driving to four auto parts parts stores only to be disappointed.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX


      Simple example of a thermostat for my van:

      Advance: $20.99 (Carquest brand only, no gasket).
      RockAuto: 7 choices, ranging from $7.81 (Stant, no gasket) to $18.66 (Hyundai brand with a gasket).

      Even the OEM brand name is cheaper than Advance.

      A job like you did would cost hundreds more at the parts stores, and would take days to get everything.

  • avatar

    Advance Auto is far, far from the days of being the Western Auto stores of my youth and worse for it.

  • avatar

    This is just a further move away from auto parts by Pep Boys, who have now become a chain of service centers. They no longer count the number of stores, but the number of service bays. Now where am I going to find bigfoot accelerator pedals, Yosemite Sam mud flaps, and fuzzy dice?

  • avatar

    This debate is as old as the one for best brand of car, and comes down to the same criteria. A lot depends on your geographic region and who works at your local store. Having been in the car repair business a long time, I have used different stores depending on who was close by and what their service was like. The wholesale (and retail) folks at my local Advance store have been awesome to me over the past decade, going above and beyond to find me what I need and get it to me. They have even bought parts wholesale at the dealer for me! But I have had similar success with Napa and even AutoZone in the past when I was in different areas. Sadly, as the chains keep pushing for more customer self-service via online-only coupons to cut the in-store staff to a bare minimum, the expertise that used to be behind the counter is slowly disappearing. The Manager of my local store told me he is not allowed to start anyone for over $9/hr, so he has been working extra shifts to cover because he can’t find anyone willing to work for that when the Sheetz down the street starts at $12/hr. I’m in the store all the time and I see do-it-yourselfers returning things all the time because they ordered the wrong part online. Unlike a parts pro, they don’t understand part interchanges and tricks like checking a year before or after the one in question for a mid-year model change that doesn’t show up in the drop-down menus. Once again, short-term corporate thinking at work to satisfy the stockholders this quarter, with no thought to the long-term health of the brand. Knowledgeable parts people have been critical to me in my success over the years, and it’s sad to see them go. That said, I do love chain auto centers, because they can only retain entry-level “techs” and I get a lot of work from them. Just replaced an engine last year that a Pep Boys employee forgot to tighten the oil filter on, and two more from a Wal-Malt service center with loose/stripped drain plugs!

  • avatar

    Pep Boys may be doing the smart thing and getting out of the retail auto parts business. It’s only a matter of time before Amazon comes for the rest of them, even RockAuto. Same-day shipping for parts sounds good to me!

    One thing that bugs me about RA is if you need to exchange/return/core charge shipping. Amazon can take of that under a Prime account. Brake calipers are heavy!

    I do like my local Napa, especially after I took my 66 Mustang drums in for turning at O’Reilly’s (I know a weak moment) and they said they weren’t sure they could turn them – and proceeded to spend 30 minutes looking for batteries for their digital caliper! I left and went to Napa. They said no problem and took care of it.

  • avatar

    My first “real” job was at a Kragen Auto Parts at 18 years old in the SF Bay Area. I learned about cars, but much more about human nature, working the register and parts desk. For all the advantages of a Rock Auto or Amazon, there is a population that needs parts in stock to get a vehicle rolling that day – many times people whose incomes depend on that car or truck functioning. Being a child of upper middle class professionals, I also learned about the cash economy at the store – once I found myself with a register with $3,000 in twenties after a couple of gentlemen bought crate engines in cash. Store policy required a safe drop at $600 to deter robberies, so I prepared an envelope to drop with the cash, only to find out that the drop slot wasn’t wide enough to fit it! To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever held that much physical cash at one time in my life. It’s amazing more people don’t knock over auto parts stores, especially ones that cater to cash-only populations.

    • 0 avatar

      tobiasfunkemd: Thanks for sharing. I had the same experience working at a little neighborhood hardware store. You learn so much more than just the job itself. (Sadly, a Wal-Mart moved in across the road and now the little hardware store is gone, now occupied by a welfare benefits office used by the patrons of the Wal-Mart, which is in the top 10 in the country from highest rate of theft.) I always make it a point to be nice to retail counter people, maybe give them a laugh or just ask them how their day is going. I know the kind of abuse they take and how people just treat them like a human register all day long. A bonus is I get great service by all the people at the stores I shop at where I know their names.

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