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New auto parts retailer revs up in Rochester

A regional auto parts retailer is rolling into Rochester to rev up its newest shop.

Johnston Auto Stores, which has locations in Iowa and southern Minnesota, is pulling into a 6,000-square-foot spot at 1830 Third Ave. S.E.

"We've been servicing Rochester for two years out of Albert Lea," says Kris Haugebackof Johnston Auto. "Rochester is a great area that is growing. It seemed like a great place to be."

This shop, which will be Johnston's 13th store, will go by the name of Rochester Auto Supply.

All of the Iowa-based chain's shops have their own names and identities to help them be in sync with their communities, he says.

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Johnston Auto's main focus is selling original equipment parts as well as after market parts on a wholesale basis to repair shops, car dealerships and other businesses.

However, the new Rochester store will have a retail counter for local gearheads to walk in and buy a fuel pump or a clutch kit.

"We decided to add the retail counter, because we're finding Third Street Southeast is a fairly heavily traveled street," Haugeback says.

He hopes to open the doors in Rochester later this month.

The plan is to have five people on staff at the start.

"We hope that will grow pretty quickly," he says.

Compared to big national chains, such O'Reilly Auto Parts and Auto Zone, Johnston has a pretty small footprint. How does it stay in the race?

"Because we're part of a large buying group, we're able to compete with the national guys like Nationwide and CarQuest," Haugeback says. "We're big enough that we can compete, but at the same time we're small enough to stay in touch with what's going on with the local guy and understand what their needs are. We're not just a cookie-cutter type of store."

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George Rowndof Braasch Commercial Real Estatehandled the deal to bring Johnston Auto into the Third Avenue building.

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