Car trouble: Pep Boys closing retail auto stores in Valley

Pep Boys, the combo auto parts and repair centers that have been around for 100 years as of this year, is shutting its retail stores here in the Valley but will retain the service centers.

“The Pep Boys locations in the Rio Grande Valley are being converted to focus on providing just automotive service, including both maintenance and repair for individual customers and fleets,” said company spokesperson Arianna Sherlock in an email.

“These locations will no longer sell retail parts and accessories as a Pep Boys,” she added. “We have prepared to capture the strong demand for automotive service in the area and across the country by developing a national supply chain that will speed customer repairs and investing in technology to enhance the customer experience, from digital vehicle inspections to two-way texting and mobile pay.”

The move is happening nationwide and comes five years after billionaire investor Carl Icahn gained control of the company and took it private. So far, around 120 of the more than 500 Pep Boys stores have been or are undergoing conversion.

Some of the retail stores are being taken over and spruced up by Advance Auto Parts, although it is unclear for now if the Valley’s Pep Boys locations in Brownsville, Harlingen, Weslaco and McAllen will convert to Advance stores.

Some 109 Pep Boys in California will be converted into Advance Auto Parts stores over the next year, for example.

“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,” said Pep Boys CEO Brian Kaner said last month. “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.”

Pep Boys has been in financial trouble the past few years, and in the fourth quarter of 2020 sales for the company totaled $596 million, down from $703 million in the same quarter in 2019.

There are 90 Pep Boys locations operating in Texas.