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VIDEO: Retiring Surrey auto parts dealer recalls a century of family business

Gary Decker operated his Whalley shop for 31 years

After “growing up in a wrecking yard” and spending his life in the auto business, Gary Decker says it’s time for him to motor into retirement.

The Decker’s Auto Parts owner/operator will close the doors of his Whalley shop for the final time Friday (April 30), after 31 years in the area.

The current Decker’s, on 104th Avenue, replaced a King George Highway store ruined by fire in 1995.

“It’s been quite a ride, but it’s time to call it a day,” Decker said on his final day of work. “I’ve been doing six days a week, 10 hours a day, so it’s time to have a life. I haven’t been away on a holiday since 2001, for anything more than three days.”

Decker’s family has been in the auto business for nearly a century, starting in Burnaby, and he says it’s been an honour to continue the auto-business legacy of his father and grandfather before him.

His older brother runs the Decker’s repair shop in Burnaby.

On Friday, Decker answered some final calls for parts, talked with longtime customers and sorted through some business-related keepsakes, including a bank book from the 1920s and old photos.

“It’s busy, so it’s sort of a bad time to shut down now – busier than it was,” he said.

“But the business has changed, with everything online and so many more stores out there. I’ve seen lots of part stores come in, but they’re gone and I’m still here, until now, so I guess I did something right.”

Meantime, a few blocks away, Whalley’s Round Up Cafe was also due to close Friday after more than 60 years of serving food.

Said Decker: “The Vancouver Auto Parts place behind there, on 135A (Street), bought my phone number and all the inventory, so it’s all going there. I told him, ‘You have to look after my customers that have been coming here for years,’ so they’ll be taken care of.

“I’m taking all the collectibles home,” he added. “Those are coming with me – all the diecast cars, posters, photos and calendars.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2017: Retirement time for Surrey’s long-established ‘Tom the Tire Guy’

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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