Josh Witt, president of the three store NAPA AUTO PARTS group in Warsaw, Syracuse, and North Webster, Indiana, donated 10,000 pairs of gloves to the local fire department, 3,000 pairs to the city, and 3,000 to hospitals.
In an interview with the local newspaper, Witt said, “We are grateful for our healthcare workers and first responders every day, but it’s moments like now that there are no words that can do justice in thanking them. We are honored to be able to play a small part in this battle as they continue to service our community so bravely.”
Witt said he started stocking up on gloves and other PPE (personal protective equipment) before COVID-19 took serious hold in the country. “We were talking with municipalities early on and the belief was access to PPE could become an issue,” said Witt. “Even though we had a good amount of gloves on hand in early March we still had the ability to get more. So, with a good distribution channel available we brought in about 10,000 pairs.”
Even after the initial donation, Witt said his store group continued to support healthcare workers. In April, they donated 3,000 pairs of gloves to the Kosciusko County Health Department to distribute to the healthcare industry where needed. The County Health Department provides supplies to long-term health facilities, most of which are nursing homes.
Retail Business Helps Carry the Day
While many businesses closed during the pandemic, essential businesses including NAPA AUTO PARTS stores and AutoCare Centers remained open. Witt said, “We’ve been fortunate that our business has held up through COVID. I believe a big part of it is the significant investment we made in retail – in our Top Store.”
In 2018, Witt converted the Warsaw NAPA to a Top Store and about a year later, the North Webster location. The Top Store program is designed to leverage the NAPA brand and deliver the consistency of a chain retailer. Today, the Warsaw NAPA is the largest Top Store in the country.
Witt said, “The pandemic has resulted in a significant number of people working from home so they have more time for projects. With unemployment and a significant number of government programs available, we’ve found even those who haven’t been working are still spending.
“They’re changing the oil in their cars and taking care of other simple maintenance. They’ve also been in the yard, working on lawnmowers, for example. And with more than 1,000 inland lakes in Kosciusko County, people have been working on their boats, too.”
The “Buy Online, Pickup In Store” (BOPIS) rollout opened up another sales avenue during this time. It gives retail customers the option to shop online with automated fraud protection and a curbside pickup option. In addition to the convenience of shopping any time, it also addresses customers’ concerns about health and safety. “BOPIS is another valuable business tool NAPA offers that would be too cost prohibitive for us to develop on our own,” Witt added.
Customers Have Choice of Shopping Options
Following the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, Witt’s NAPA stores remained open during the pandemic. “All of the sales terminals are protected by Plexiglass barriers and there are lines on the floor customers stand behind when checking out. We also have stickers on the floor for social distancing. And of course, we’re cleaning tirelessly throughout the day, including sanitizing the credit card terminals after each transaction.
“Customers can shop the way they feel most comfortable. We provide a safe shopping environment for those who prefer to come inside. But there’s also an option to call the store, provide credit card information by phone, and get curbside delivery,” Witt explained. “Customers who use BOPIS can also choose whether to come in or have their purchase brought out to their car.”
He said while retail business has been strong for a few months, wholesale was notably slow at first but is beginning to pick up. He attributes the initial slowdown to consumers doing less driving and putting off bigger ticket repairs. However, Witt remains optimistic about the future of the business.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.