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FargoDIYGarage in search of a new place to set up shop

After nearly two years in business, owner Chris Partridge is looking for a new shop. The rental costs of his previous five-bay facility proved too high for the business's revenues. “All I can say is be patient,” he told customers. “As soon as I can afford to do it, it’ll come back.”

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Chris Partridge stands Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 outside of the FargoDIYGarage at 901 Westrac Dr., Fargo. The do-it-yourself shop temporarily closed in April 2022 while Partridge searches for a new location. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
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FARGO — A local auto garage is on the hunt for a new facility to call home.

The FargoDIYGarage , a place where drivers can rent space and tools to work on their own vehicles, is in need of a new location after its previous lease drew to a close. The DIY garage opened in June 2020 and was located at 901 Westrac Drive.

FargoDIYGarage offers five bays for car and motorcycle repairs and can save motorists hundreds of dollars, founder Chris Partridge said.

Owner Chris Partridge told The Forum the numbers just didn’t quite add up. The cost of renting the five-bay facility proved to be too much compared to the revenue the business brought in. “The possibility of a lot more income is there, but I just didn’t have enough exposure, didn’t have enough people coming in to justify it,” he said.

'There isn’t any fluff'

The DIY garage was inspired by the auto hobby shops Partridge encountered during his military service. He had been considering opening a DIY shop of his own for 20 years before finally making the idea a reality in 2020.

Each of the shop’s five bays came fully equipped with a lift and tools for any sort of car or motorcycle repair. Prior to the closing, the response from patrons was “overwhelmingly positive,” Partridge said. “Everybody who’s used it absolutely loves it,” he said.

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For that reason, Partridge is hoping to bring the shop back in a different form. “Honestly, it’s a brilliant thing to do. I just love it. I love the business,” he said.

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Making the DIY garage financially viable will require downsizing the shop, Partridge noted. When he first drafted a business plan, Partridge considered five, eight and 12 bays. Even though he ultimately opted for his smallest plan, the size still proved to be too big.

Because it’s not like a standard auto repair shop, which upcharges for parts and labor, the profit margins proved to be thin. While that meant big savings for ambitious, self-trained mechanics, it made for a tenuous business model.

“With this, it operates kind of close to what it costs because there isn’t any fluff. There’s no markup, there’s no labor, there’s no nothing,” he explained. “It’s almost like paying to store your car in a garage. It’s kind of a similar idea, it’s just this garage, it’s short-term and includes all the tools you need.”

The business also suffered from seasonal lulls. All five bays would be full in the winter months, but the same couldn’t be said for the summertime. “Because that’s about the only time of year that it’s like that,” Partridge said of the months from November to February, “it just didn’t work out.”

Not going down without a fight

Though Partridge shut down the operation in late April, he vowed to bring the concept back once the numbers make sense. “I’d say it’s worth it. Everybody wants it back,” he remarked. “I want it back, but I have to make it make enough money to survive.”

When he first shut down, he had been actively searching for a new space. He found one he thought would be the ideal size, however the lease didn’t line up with his existing one.

Even though he’ll have to cut down to two or three bays, Partridge estimated he’d still be able to pull in roughly 90% of the business he had previously. “Now I’ve got to make it pay its own bills or I just can’t even do it,” he commented. “It was kind of a crap shoot based on how many folks came through the door.”

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Still, it’s all about finding the right mix of space and costs to balance Partridge’s personal investment in the DIY garage. “I know I’ve got enough to where I can make a small shop viable with respect to what you need to service a shop,” he said. “I have an idea of how to run a shop. It’s just I’ve got to find that location and I’ve got to have the insurance be inexpensive enough.”

Partridge thanked those who had given the FargoDIYGarage a whirl and promised that it would return. “All I can say is be patient,” he concluded. “As soon as I can afford to do it, it’ll come back.”

Related Topics: FARGOSMALL BUSINESS
Thomas Evanella is a reporter for The Forum. He's worked for The Forum for over two years, primarily reporting on business news. Reach him at tevanella@forumcomm.com or by calling 701-353-8363. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella.
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