What Is the History of Western Auto?

Western Auto was established in 1909 as a mail order company based in Kansas City, Missouri. The first store opened in 1921. Western Auto became an iconic brand, known for selling auto parts and appliances. The company was founded by George Pepperdine, founder of Pepperdine University.

Western Auto was best known for the Western Flyer, a popular bicycle sold in its stores. Over 2,000 Western Auto franchises existed until the chain was purchased by Sears in 1987. Many dealers converted their stores into Sears stores. The brand of Western Auto continued to fade with the advancement of other auto parts stores, such as Advance Auto.

While a few dealers still use the name, it is being phased out store by store into Advance Auto stores. Those stores that remained independent did so by sourcing auto parts from other suppliers.

At the age of 23, George Pepperdine envisioned a retail store selling replacement auto parts. A business that began in his kitchen led to one of the more iconic brands of the auto parts world, but it is best remembered for the Western Flyer bicycle. More information about the history of Western Auto appears in "The Last Western Flyer" by Dr. Jim Marchman.