KENNETT SQUARE—Arturo Garcia, owner of Garcia Garage on West State Street, enjoys a challenge. The kind of mechanical mysteries that confound most car owners kick Garcia’s creative problem-solving skills into overdrive. He loves working on cars and making customers happy. He also loves Kennett Square—and a recent incident showing community care for a stranger illustrates Garcia’s love for his hometown as well as the collaborative spirit that’s so strong here.

When a Tesla with Maryland plates and a flat tire pulled into the lot at Garcia Garage, the distraught driver explained that he’d called several garages already, but no one was able to help him repair the tire. “The tire was destroyed,” Garcia says, “and so the other tires needed to be replaced as well.” Garcia wanted to be able to assist this man—not only because he needed help, but also because he wanted this visitor to have a positive experience of Kennett Square. Garcia called several other garages in town. “We all work together,” he says. “With the help of my friend Richard from Richard's Automotive, down the road, we were able to get four new tires the same day and got it done as a team to help this man.”

Garcia’s experience highlights a sometimes hidden but critical aspect of tourism, says Historic Kennett Square Executive Director Bo Wright. “

At HKS we’re very conscious of the visitor experience in Kennett Square. Often people think about this in terms of the aesthetic of the town—which is why placemaking projects like Christmas in Kennett and Kennett Blooms are so important. Accessible parking, walkability, clear signage, and of course our unique and award-winning array of shops and restaurants are also very important,” he says. “But Arturo Garcia underscores another essential part of the Kennett Square experience—for both residents and visitors. Our community is full of people who care, who take action to help others in need, and who have a real sense of pride about their hometown. People who come here can sense this welcome and the community cohesion that exists here.”

A Dream Come True

Garcia Garage opened in its first location, in Toughkenamon near Manfredi Cold Storage, in 2012. Business was so good that, after a few years, Garcia had to look for a larger space. He moved to Birch Street, near The Creamery. Still, he says, “we got busier and busier,” and after outgrowing their second location Garcia Garage expanded into its present location, at 600 West State Street, three years ago. Garcia smiles when he’s asked what’s next. He’s content to be busy in this extensive space and he’s especially happy to own a business in his hometown, where he and his family live.

While this business expansion trajectory is the stuff of the American dream, the road to success has not always been easy. Garcia grew up in the city of Toluca, not far from Mexico City. He always loved cars, even as a kid. He excelled in school and finished his certification there in Mexico. The school also sent Garcia to do some training and to engage in an automotive competition in Brazil. “It’s much more competitive in Brazil,” he says, “and I like challenges.”

When he was eighteen, Garcia moved to the US with his family. He’d never expected to move here, and the cultural transition, he says, “was a little bit challenging.” Although he’d studied English in school, it wasn’t until he arrived here and was able to practice speaking with friends that he gained confidence in the language. Even the trade he’d learned well is somewhat different here. “In Mexico they don’t always have the kind of equipment and tools we have here. Often in Mexico the job is to fix a part rather than replace it,” he says.

He found work at local garages as he settled into life in a new country, dreaming of one day owning his own business.

Business is much better now, with enough to keep Garcia, two full-time employees, and a part-time student from the Technical College High School (TCHS) very busy. “One of the mechanics specializes in the big jobs like replacing engines and transmissions, and the other is an expert in technology and electronics,” he says. Garcia knows how important training is for young people, and he usually has at least one student on his payroll. “I always try to give opportunities to kids trying to learn,” he says.

One change Garcia implemented during the past year that he’s carrying forward is giving customers appointment times to come in. “We had to do this during the pandemic,” he says, “but now I like it better. It’s faster and more efficient for everyone.” Appointments enable Garcia and his team to focus on the customer and their needs. This system also enables them to focus well on getting the work done at other times without interruptions. To arrange an appointment, customers can call the garage at (610) 444-5748, send a message through their website, or contact them through social media.

When he’s not fixing cars or putting in the long hours required to run a business, Garcia has a few cars in his garage at home that he enjoys working on. Garcia and his wife, who is from Guanajuato, have been married for ten years, and Garcia is passing his passion for cars on to their two sons, aged eight and five. “It’s very lovely to see my sons love what I’m doing and want to grow up to do this,” he says. His older son likes Teslas, and Garcia says his dream vehicle is a Tesla Cybertruck.

“I’ve been in Kennett Square a long time, and I love the town. It’s a very good community, and there’s a different feeling here than in other places,” Garcia says. “I feel that people really care.” His priority, he says, is great customer service and honest, fair pricing. “I’m very happy to be here to help people,” he says.

Fixing it Right

Garcia and his employees pride themselves on getting the work done, and their customers safely back on the road, as fast as they can. “But the most important thing is to make sure we fix it right,” he says. “Customers love how we work—high-quality work and on schedule.”

Each job presents a new a challenge. “You have to be very focused on the thing you want to fix,” Garcia says, “not only to identify the problem but also to diagnose the cause of it.” After all these years, Garcia says he still learns something new every day. “I get very excited when I see a new car or problem. Now that cars are using computers, it’s important to have the right equipment to do the diagnostics. Sometimes a wire has been chewed by a squirrel, for example. We have to try every single wire—and it’s very satisfying when we find the right one,” he says with a smile.

The past year brought many challenges for Garcia, as it did for countless others. “

The pandemic hit us very hard,” he says, as fewer people were driving on the roads and maintaining their cars. “It was a rough year for us, and we had to start rotating staff.” Garcia is grateful for the grant from Historic Kennett Square’s Small Business Response Fund, with matching funds from Square Roots Collective, that helped him to pay rent and bills during this difficult period.

Business is much better now, with enough to keep Garcia, two full-time employees, and a part-time student from the Technical College High School (TCHS) very busy. “One of the mechanics specializes in the big jobs like replacing engines and transmissions, and the other is an expert in technology and electronics,” he says. Garcia knows how important training is for young people, and he usually has at least one student on his payroll. “I always try to give opportunities to kids trying to learn,” he says.

One change Garcia implemented during the past year that he’s carrying forward is giving customers appointment times to come in. “We had to do this during the pandemic,” he says, “but now I like it better. It’s faster and more efficient for everyone.” Appointments enable Garcia and his team to focus on the customer and their needs. This system also enables them to focus well on getting the work done at other times without interruptions. To arrange an appointment, customers can call the garage at (610) 444-5748, send a message through their website, or contact them through social media.

When he’s not fixing cars or putting in the long hours required to run a business, Garcia has a few cars in his garage at home that he enjoys working on. Garcia and his wife, who is from Guanajuato, have been married for ten years, and Garcia is passing his passion for cars on to their two sons, aged eight and five. “It’s very lovely to see my sons love what I’m doing and want to grow up to do this,” he says. His older son likes Teslas, and Garcia says his dream vehicle is a Tesla Cybertruck.

“I’ve been in Kennett Square a long time, and I love the town. It’s a very good community, and there’s a different feeling here than in other places,” Garcia says. “I feel that people really care.” His priority, he says, is great customer service and honest, fair pricing. “I’m very happy to be here to help people,” he says.

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