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Auto Pros wheels into new location at Valley River.

Byline: RETAIL NOTEBOOK By Edward Russo The Register-Guard

Talk about short notice. The folks at Auto Pros in downtown Eugene officially learned where they were moving just three days before they rolled to a new home at Valley River Center.

The future of the Goodyear tire dealer had been unclear since last fall when the city bought the building rented by Auto Pros at 13th Avenue and Willamette Street. The city will start demolition of the building in a few weeks to make way for a new downtown fire station. The plans also displaced the building's other tenant, the Record Garden music store.

Auto Pros owners Buzz Forbes and Les Brown were unable to find a new home near their downtown customers before they had to clear out of the building by last Friday. They found a site across the Willamette River at Valley River Center, which had a former Montgomery Ward auto garage waiting to be filled.

That building, last rented by All Tune and Lube, is near Bon-Macy's. The structure was tied up in the Montgomery Ward & Co. bankruptcy for more than two years.

A bankruptcy judge recently released the property, clearing the way for it to be rented to Forbes and Brown. The partners would like to make it a long-term arrangement, but Valley River only agreed to rent it for 18 months.

Auto Pros downtown store manager Mike Leenknecht figured that he probably was headed to Valley River Center, but he didn't get official word until July 28. The business moved three days later, and opened on Aug. 1.

"It's fantastic. It's upscale," Leenknecht said, standing in the shiny tire showroom.

Still to be resolved is how much the city will pay Forbes and Brown to help them cover moving costs. The owners have two other Auto Pros, one in Eugene and one in Springfield.

Meanwhile, Record Garden owner Mike McAdams closed his store on June 30, and now is down to one outlet, in downtown Springfield.

Record Garden sells used and new CDs, plus cassettes, albums, and some videos. The business handles a lot of special-order music, McAdams said.

After doing business in Eugene for 20 years, McAdams said he would like to return as a merchant. "I guess it depends on what I find and how the economy goes," he said.

Retail Notebook runs Thursdays. Edward Russo can be reached at 338-2359 or erusso@guardnet.com.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 7, 2003
Words:402
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