default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen How one small Lodi business survives

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Steve Hansen

Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:41 am, Thu Aug 23, 2012.

Where have all the small businesses gone — long time passing?

These days, it's difficult for the little guy to scratch out a living while competing against national chain stores.

Just about everyone loves the prices and selection that the big-boxes have to offer. However, they just don't have the customer relationships of bygone eras, where we personally knew our service providers and their families. We trusted these folks, and in return they dedicated themselves to maintaining that positive relationship. Failure to do so would not only reflect on them, but their parents, wives and children as well.

Fortunately, we live in a city that's small enough to support people who still do things the old-fashioned way. One of them is B & B Tires and Auto Service on Cluff Avenue.

Its proprietor is Bret DeBerry. He runs the entire operation himself. This includes everything from major mechanical work to answering the phone.

Bret is no stranger to Lodi. He learned his trade while working many years for some of the bigger stores. His mom is Gigi DeBerry, who recently retired from the school district. She was a popular German teacher at Lodi High School.

DeBerry told me that being an independent businessman has its challenges.

"Taxes, environmental fees and insurance are all strains on my budget. California is especially difficult," he said.

DeBerry revealed the county business tax alone reflects a percentage of what government officials think his tools are worth. This fee can be as high as $15,000 per year!

"Just when I think I'm getting ahead, another bill from a federal, state or local tax collector comes in the mail," he lamented

Competing against the giants remains tough. Sometimes, DeBerry makes only $9 per tire. However, other times he can save customers big money by fixing things rather than replacing them. Once, a customer complained that the cheapest deal he could find to replace a heater core was $1,200. DeBerry was able to make a permanent repair for only $175.

On another occasion, he corrected an alignment and handling problem for a customer that the large stores just couldn't afford the time for analysis and resolution.

"I don't shaft people," he said. "If I did, they would tell their friends and wouldn't return. I can't afford to do business like that."

DeBerry loves to help people and plans to continue his operation as long as the bills can be paid. He states that his auto service and tire business are primarily based on customer loyalty and word of mouth.

Some small businesses still survive today because modern technology simply cannot replace the face-to-face, personal relationships that were so commonly found in the past. Repair facilities with a local customer base still have a place in our lives.

Bret DeBerry is just one example of why so many of us still appreciate a small city, independent service store.

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:03 am on Thu, Aug 23, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Great story. Love to read many more like this. Helps me in knowing where I can get good service.


Recent Comments

Posted 1 hour ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: Letter: Suggestions for committee appoi…

Welcome to Lodi Julie. I think there's not been enough participation. Some call it the "good 'ole boys" way of doing things. Why …


Posted 1 hour ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: JoAnne Mounce: California gas tax is a …

I thought I was already taxed to repair roads and infrastructure? And why then am I paying an additional bridge toll? We finally get to spe…


Posted 2 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: Ron Portal’s letters repeat the…

Sarah Palin: Our dream future GOP nominee. The difficulty will be finding a republican who somehow has managed to become lamer than she is…


Posted 2 hours ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: Letter: Ron Portal’s letters repeat the…

That's right Ed, you know it.


Posted 2 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: Our leaders need to be better r…

What do can you expect when 30% of the electorate thinks the President is a communist/socialist/muslim born in Kenya and whose father was b…



Popular Stories



Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists