November 2008 cThis publication has been paid for with funds approved for such use by the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority. d Main Street VINELAND A NEW JERSEY MAIN STREET COMMUNITY www.mainstreetvineland.org In the of the Urban Enterprise Zone Automotive Supply Company: Over 80 Years of NAPA Auto Parts Service The year was 1927. Charles Lindbergh @ew across the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis to a hero 9s welcome in France.
The Jazz Singer , starring Al Jolson, revolutionized the ?lm industry as the ?rst talkie. Ford Motor Company discontinued its popular Model T in favor of the roomier Model A. And here in Vineland, Jules Lelli, borrowing $500 from his wife Elizabeth, started an automobile parts store 4 part of the two-year-old National Automobile Parts Association chain 4which could service all those people driving Model T 9s, Model A 9s, and other makes and models.
This store, Automotive Supply Company, was located on South Eighth Street, near Landis Avenue. In 1934, Lelli moved his store to 809 E. Landis Ave.
and 4as the cliché goes 4 the rest is history. Two generations later, the Lelli family still owns Automotive Parts Company of South Jersey, Inc., which they believe ... more. less.
is the oldest NAPA store in the country. The company 9s business is mainly wholesale but a small portion of the business is retail.<br><br> The Lelli family still prides itself in providing service with a difference. What is that difference? Jules 9 grandson Bob Lelli, Jr.<br><br> said, cAt the risk of sounding 8clichéish, 9 I guess it would be personal service and customer service, d he said, adding cWe deal with customers ?ve to ten times a day, so you have to give them the personal time. d Being a family business is ca big part of us d Bob said, adding that being very much family-oriented cmeans a lot to us. d He noted that customers have also been loyal through the generations. cSons and daughters of people who dealt with my grandfather have been dealing with my father and me now, d he said. cWe 9ve been rather fortunate that way. d This is a family-run business, literally.<br><br> The president of the corporation is Bob Lelli, Jr. 9s father, Bob Sr.; the vice-president is his uncle, Richard; the secretary is his mother, Aline, and the of?ce manager is his sister Karen. cThere 9s a lot of personal care that goes into a family-owned business, d Bob Jr. said.<br><br> A lot of that personal care is doing what is necessary 4even going the extra mile 4to satisfy a customer. cIf we don 9t have an item stocked, we 9ll call up a competitor to see if they have it, d he said. Karen Lelli noted with pride how her uncle Richard, nine years ago, learned Spanish at the age of 65 so that he could speak to the Hispanic customers.<br><br> As far as the several other auto parts stores in Vineland offering competition, Bob Jr. is con?dent in his business 9s place in the community. cWe have a niche here, so we are able to work around that competition, d he said.<br><br> As far as future plans, the plan is to build on their recent façade upgrade, which put a fresh new face on the building 9s exterior. Taking advantage of the city 9s Façade Improvement Program, Bob Jr. said that cwe 9re glad we did it when we did it. d They are currently working with the city on plans for redoing their interior.<br><br> Bob Jr. is enthusiastic about downtown Vineland revitalization plans. cI 9m looking forward to the changes.<br><br> It 9s going to help the downtown. d he said. cWe 9ve been downtown for 80 years and improvements are only going to make downtown grow. d For more information on Automotive Parts Company of South Jersey, Inc., call them at (856) 691-1584. Upcoming 2009 Events NEW APRIL Bridal Show MAY Memorial Day Parade JUNE Soap Box Derby, Cruise Down Memory Lane, Farmers 9 Market JULY Seafood Festival, Farmers 9 Market AUGUST Tomato & Wine Festival, Farmers 9 Market SEPTEMBER Ribs- 8n-Chili Cook-Off OCTOBER Thunder on the Avenue NOVEMBER Annual Holiday Parade<br><br>