Hal Lewis closing shop after 36 years in Kennett Square

After 36 years in the auto service business, Hal Lewis is closing shop.

While not officially retiring, Lewis who owns H&R Service in Kennett Square, said he plans to take a break from work, sell his house and downsize to a smaller one in the borough, and perhaps one day run for mayor.

"I think there's more out there for me," said Lewis, who recently has placed some of his inventions like solar flashlights and a stink bug zapper on the market. "I've had a great life, but it's not over yet. I really don't know what I'll be doing."

Lewis plans to sell all the equipment in his service station located at 100 South Walnut Street, including lifts, tools and hundreds of automotive-related items. The sale is set for Saturday, June 9 at 10 a.m. and all items will go to the lowest bidder.

Even "Granny," the fixture that has been outside of his shop at the corner of State and Walnut streets since he took third place in the 2006 Kennett Square Halloween contest, will be sold to the highest bidder. Lewis said he plans to place an initial $200 bid on Granny. Proceeds from the sale of Granny will go to Relay for Life.

Lewis became interested in becoming an auto mechanic since he graduated from high school in 1971 from Millville, N.J. His family moved to Kennett Square shortly after and his father opened shop at what is now the Sunoco station at Routes 926 and 52. Initially, Lewis wanted to become a rock and roll star, but that didn't work out.

In 1976, Lewis opened shop at a building located at Cypress and Washington streets in Kennett Square and kept it for 10 years. From there he moved to what is now the Sinton Building and in 1994, moved to his present location. He has sold his interest in his building and his last day of business will by Thursday, May 31.

And he has several loyal employees. Antonio Ramirez may end up working for Lewis's nephew, Robbie at the other end of town; Mark Plumley will go to work as an EMT for both Kennett and Longwood fire companies; and Ted Perez has found a job with a business in Downingtown.

"They (his employees) have been the backbone of my business," Lewis said.

It's ironic that Lewis is closing down just as his green 1992 Ford Ranger is about to give out. It's got 338,000 miles on it, but reverse no longer works.

"If you take care of (vehicles), they will last," Lewis said. "People should just follow their owner's manual and it will tell you when to change things."

And how did the name come about. Lewis said the H is for his first name, and the R is for his brother Robert, who died recently.

"This town has really evolved," Lewis said. "I felt unsafe walking uptown in the 1970s. Now I can walk uptown at 3 in the morning with no problems. There are a lot of good business owners in Kennett Square."

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