The name of the place was Finn’s Auto Supply. It was started by Abel Finn in 1936. Located at 120 E. Commercial St., the store was a magnet for the auto mechanics and do-it-yourselfers who got timely hints on car repair from Finn and his son Melvin. The store opened in the days of the post-Depression years when tires and batteries sold for a few dollars, and engine oil was only 15 cents a quart. Now you would pay around $4. Back in those early days, an entire muffler assembly for a Ford Model A would sell for $2.89, a set of distributer points 15 cents, a can of DuPont Polished for 59 cents. A quart of oil is now around $3-$4 and the Model A muffler assembly is $75.
Not only auto accessories were sold, paints, bicycle parts, household tools, rooms, shovels, etc., were available. It was a little like a country store. As business grew, the original store expanded into the next building to the east and became the landmark operation that it was. It was as busy on Sunday morning as any other business day of the week. That was unusual back in the days of the Blue Laws governing business on Sundays.
To the East of Finn’s was Gene Cohen’s Men’s Clothing Shop, on the other side was Kings Shoe Store, famous for its X-ray shoe fitting machine. Both were demolished in the early 1970s for the massive Urban Renewal project.
When urban renewal rendered the building to dust in cinders in 1971, Finn moved to a building formally occupied earlier by an appliance store on the 400 block of Main Street, aptly named Mechanics Automotive Supply. Unfortunately, urban renewal was following him and those buildings were torn down for the upcoming new Fire Department construction. Finn then moved to 146 W. Commercial St. into the one-time Nyle’s, later Speca’s, Bowling Alley building at 146 W. Commercial St. The building was originally the location of Schaufelberger’s Essex and Hudson Car Agency.
Nyles, a barber, later transformed the building into six bowling lanes, and it was there that champions like Johnny Quincy learned to topple the lumber. They became wizards by “sticking pins” and practicing in off hours. The hardwood alleys at the time Finn was there were used to place shelving for holding all the stock. The building is now the home of a restaurant.
Eagle Auto Supply located at the corner of Main and West Commercial is the only remaining auto parts store left in the village. Hopefully, they will not be leaving that location soon.