This West Coast Vintage Garage Invites Customers To Step Back in Time


We here at GOBankingRates want to help get our nation’s small businesses back on their feet after the COVID-19 pandemic. To do that, we’re highlighting readers’ favorite small businesses around the country, and shining a spotlight on what makes them special to their customers and their towns.

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In this edition of our Small Business Spotlight series, we’re featuring Grumps-Garage in Lake Elsinore, California, the only shop worldwide that focuses on 1928-1956 Americana. In addition to being filled with all kinds of collectibles from the era, Grumps is also a full Ford parts shop and has a replica 1952 gas station that serves as a live music venue. Here, we chat with owner Mark Carrillo about where his interest in this era originated, how his garage differentiates itself from other shops and why being a business owner is about way more than money.

Was there a particular moment or experience that inspired you to start your business?

[My] interest in this era [was] sparked by my father buying me a 1955 Chevrolet at 3 years old.

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What did you take from past experiences or jobs that you knew you did not want to be a part of your business?

The fact [that] previous shops herded customers in and out. [We] wanted to focus on building relationships with the customer base as much as getting their sales.

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What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a business owner?

Getting to remind people [of] the greatness that this country once created. And without any outside influence — strictly from my heart.

How has the pandemic affected your business?

Greatly, as I have a large overseas base that just can’t get to the states. Money has been tight.

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How can people continue to support your business during this time?

Shop in-store or on the web. With prices and items for everyone, ANY sale helps small businesses.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?

Don’t make it about money. In this era, you must have your heart and soul invested. And hopefully, you have a fantastic support staff.

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Last updated: Sept. 9, 2021

This interview has been edited for clarity.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 
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