BEVERLY — G&L Automotive Services has been owned and operated by the Wedster family for 70 years.
But another milestone anniversary for the car repair shop won’t be likely: The building, 9920 S. Walden Parkway, has been put up for sale, and the business will close once an ownership change is finalized, owner Ron Wedster told Block Club Chicago.
“October of 1953, that’s when my dad bought the place,” said Wedster, the second-generation owner. “It’s just time.”
The recent death of Larry Wedster, Ron Wedster’s brother and business partner, paired with the difficulty in finding quality mechanics at an affordable rate led to the family’s decision to end the shop’s seven-decade run. John Wedster, a third sibling who has helped run the business in recent years, lives in Florida much of the year and can only help so often, Ron Wedster said.
“We don’t know if it will be a month or if it will be a year,” Ron Wedster said of the closing timeline. A Coldwell Banker real estate listing of the building shows it on the market for $925,000.
Did You Know …?
The name G&L dates back even further than when the Wedster family bought the business in 1953. It stands for Gustafson & Lockow, the names of the original two mechanics who owned the shop. Photos from the business’ archives show the site has been used to repair cars as early as 1941. The building itself is believed to have been built in 1927.
“At first, my dad thought it would hurt business if he changed the name … so it stuck,” Ron Wedster said.
The business has no website, no social media channels and has received hardly any press over the years. Even driving down Walden Parkway, it’s easy to miss since there’s no large sign announcing the auto shop.
But that has hardly affected its success.
“We do very little advertising, but we’re always busy,” Wedster said. “Dad always taught us that if you are fair with your customers, they are going to come back.”
One example: For people in need of a new tire, Wedster charges $190, he said.
“The tire itself costs $160, and I make $30,” he said. “Everything here is upfront. There’s no extra cost.”
Word of mouth for the business has made it the only place many Far South Side families will go to for car repairs, Wedster said.
“We had a woman in here the other day, and she was in tears because she’s not sure what to do after the mechanic she’s had her whole life moves on,” Wedster said.
Employees at G&L have been almost exclusively members of the Wedster family for decades.
Although the sale listing has only been up for a little more than a week, Ron Wedster said the family decided to close a few months ago. It wasn’t easy, he said, since G&L has been a second home for him his entire life.
“The notches on this door … that’s of me growing up,” Wedster said, pointing to decades-old marks on his office door that showed his height. “My mom brought me here as a toddler. … I’ve been coming here ever since.”
All of Ron Wedster’s eight siblings have been involved at some point in their lives. Bob Wedster, Ron’s nephew, continued the G&L name when he opened G&L Automotive II at 12735 S. Pulaski Road in suburban Alsip.
For Ron Wedster, G&L Automotive isn’t only where he grew up — it has been the only job site he’s ever known.
“I thought about going to college when I was in high school,” he said. “But I always had a job here. I just learned by watching my older brothers and asking questions.”
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