NAPA Auto Parts: Transitions: University Ave

Leon Jacobson of NAPA Auto Parts discusses the perspective of a branch store manager on CCLRT construction and how his store will navigate 2012

Interviewed by: Ahmed Kadir
Directed/Edited by: Ci Andra Phillips, Ahmed Kadir
Photos by: Ahmed Kadir, Curtis King, and Sixto Villegas
Editing Mentorship: Lateef Oseni (University of Minnesota)


Can we start with your name and the name of the business?

Yes. My name is Leon Jacobson and this is NAPA Auto Parts. I’m branch store manager, and this is one of our largest stores.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, like what area you’re from?

I’m from -- originally from -- North Minneapolis and right now I live in Brooklyn Park. I’ve lived in Minneapolis all my life.

What got you into this business?

I’ve always liked cars and I kind of wanted to be a mechanic but I really didn’t want to get as dirty. So when the opportunity came to get into the parts business as a driver, I grabbed it.

Do you know anything about the history of this building? Where this business is located?

Uh yes. This originally was a government building and I know when we took it over it had been a 10,000 Auto Parts.

What are your concerns about the light rail being built on University Avenue?

A little concerned about losing some retail traffic. About 25% of our business is retail and we expect to lose about half of that until November when the project is completed.

Do you think the light rail might harm or benefit your business?

In the long run I don’t think it’ll have too much of an impact.

As far as you know, what is the main method your customers use to get to this business? Car, bus, or walk?

By far, its car. We do get a few people who take the bus when their cars are broke down and I imagine the train would kind of be the same thing.

How do you think the way customers get to your business will change during the light rail construction?

This year will be difficult because the road is going to be blocked for part of the year and they’ll have to come back through the alley so I imagine that’ll be tough and we’ll probably lose some business.

How would you manage to keep your business going if you don’t get as many customers during construction?

Well most of our businesses deliver out the back door. About 75% of our business is wholesale so it won’t affect that at all. There’s a lot of great people in this neighborhood, and we enjoy being here, and we’ll get through this and in the long run I’m sure it won’t hurt.

Made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.