If I never had to step foot inside a greasy auto shop again, I wouldn't be upset.
But I know that's a muffler pipe dream, so I appreciate Pep Boys' latest effort to make the experience a little more pleasant. The repair shop recently opened a newly designed retail store at 3933 W Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa with a spruced up waiting area and a rearranged retail space more tailored to women. (They put the sunglasses, phone chargers and kids' booster seats near the front door.)
The renovated store is the first in a nationwide effort to re-energize the concept founded in 1921 in Philadelphia by three friends whose caricatured faces are shown throughout the store. The publicly traded company has struggled with challenges from such rivals as Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone and Walmart and needs a major, shall we say, realignment to compete.
The prototype is a vast improvement over the older stores with linoleum floors, harsh lighting and don't-wear-white waiting areas. Free Wi-Fi, charging stations and retro artwork of the chain's early days make the place inviting, even interesting. It still smells like tires, but at least they're in the back by the new restrooms with diaper changing stations.