Firestone returns to San Marco Avenue

After several years of vacancy, Historic City News was happy to report the Grand Opening of Firestone Complete Auto Care in the former Helmly Firestone independent dealership building located on San Marco Avenue.

Store manager Ray Benson welcomed guests and visitors who toured the newly remodeled and refitted shop that offers not only sales and installation of automobile tires, but also auto maintenance and repair services.

After introductions of Assistant District Managers Thomas Trachsel, Kevin Errico and District Manager Chris Halstead from Jacksonville, New Store Coordinator David Humphress cut the ceremonial ribbon; officially marking the re-opening of the store.

Humphress explained to Historic City News local reporters that the property for the once popular uptown tire and service center was always owned by Firestone who, at that time, was based in Akron, Ohio. The facilities were leased to the Helmlys under a dealership agreement, similar to a franchise. Noel Helmly took over the store from his father; who started the business in the 1960’s and closed the operation down several years ago.

Firestone Complete Auto Care, now based in Bloomingdale, Illinois, welcomes the St Augustine location into the network of over 1,600 stores coast-to-coast, Humphress said.

Benson reported that the new store will be open seven-days every week, and the Grand Opening specials will continue through Sunday, August 19. There will be a drawing Saturday for prizes included in a neighborhood sweepstakes. Each entry completed at the store makes participants eligible to win a 2012 BMW 328i or AUDI A4 sedan as part of a national sweepstakes.

Food and refreshments provided by Country Caterers Bar-B-Q included sliced or pulled pork, cole slaw, baked beans, potato salad and rolls complete with a choice of teas or lemonade.

Ambassadors from the St Augustine St Johns County Chamber of Commerce assisted in the ribbon-cutting and the company made two, five-hundred-dollar donations; one to the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels program accepted by Becky Yanni, and another to the St Augustine Historical Society, accepted by Dr. Susan Parker.

Parker remarked that she saw particular significance, from the perspective of the historical society, that the company has restored the new facility to its former use — a purpose that in under-served in uptown St Augustine.

Benson held a soft-opening August 3rd, and there are vehicles being serviced in every bay. During the Grand Opening this weekend, there are special discounts on tires, service and repairs and you can “spin the wheel” to win one of a host of prizes — every spin is a winner.

“We are here to serve the community,” Humphress told Historic City News. “We promise to care.”

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