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AutoZone to Open Store No. 6,000

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Nearly four decades ago, AutoZone opened its first store.

This Friday, it will celebrate another milestone: the debut of store No. 6,000.

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Auto parts giant 
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 Inc., founded in 1979 as Auto Shack by 
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, will debut its 6,000 store at 2761 Kirby Road, Friday. Aug. 26 in the company’s hometown — Memphis.

 

Auto parts giant AutoZone Inc., founded in 1979 as Auto Shack by J.R. “Pitt” Hyde III, will debut its 6,000 store at 2761 Kirby Road, Friday. Aug. 26 in the company’s hometown — Memphis.

“Obviously, our home is Memphis, but that relationship exists in 50 states,” said Tom Newbern, executive vice president of store operations and commercial for AutoZone. “We invest in the local community wherever we are ... but most of our team here at the store support center are from Memphis. We all consider ourselves Memphians, and we just appreciate the support that the community has given us.”

Newbern joined AutoZone 32 years ago as a part-time employee at store No. 110, located at the corner of Hickory Hill Road and Winchester Road. Newbern described his path from part-time retailer to EVP of store operations as a three-decade evolution.

Most of the company’s leadership, especially on the operations side, he said, has a store background.

“Staying close to the customer has always been very important to AutoZone,” Newbern said. “Having that experience with direct customer interaction is part of our culture. In fact, it is required — even if you are coming from somewhere outside of Memphis or outside of AutoZone — that you spend time working in the store, regardless of whether you are coming in as a lawyer or an accountant or project manager. It doesn’t matter — you are required to work in the store.”

The company averages about 200 new brick-and-mortar stores per year, 150 of which are in the U.S. with the remaining in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Brazil.

Newbern said they are always looking for additional opportunities, not only in the U.S. but around the globe.

“The difference in us and some of the international players is we’re looking for countries where our model — the same model we have successfully executed in the U.S. — works and appeals to the population there,” Newbern said. “So, starting with a very good, heavy DIY business because that is our expertise.”

But this weekend, it's Memphis where the company will celebrate its historic milestone with a two-day, public celebration.

Festivities start Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. at the new Kirby Road location with a ribbon cutting by some of AutoZone’s executive leadership, music from the Grizzline and an appearance by the Memphis Redbirds mascot, Rockey. NASCAR driver Alex Bowman will also be in attendance with KIX 106.

The party continues Saturday, Aug. 26, at the AutoZone store at 5945 Winchester Road from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. AutoZone will provide giveaways to attendees both days, and a Mid-South Food Bank donation drive will also be occurring.

“We have been on a very steady glide path with regards to growth for years and years, and very consistent growth … but the importance of [the 6,000 store] being in Memphis really matters to us,” Newbern said. “That relationship between us and the community of Memphis, the leadership of the City of Memphis, has been very important to AutoZone starting with [founder] Pitt Hyde in our decision 20 years ago to build our store support center Downtown. And, if you were Downtown 20 years ago, we were the only ones here. Again, just another example of making sure the community realizes that we appreciate it.”

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