Another legendary Broadway family business is heading to the history books.
Waugh’s Automotive on the corner of Broadway and Fenno Street will close its doors for the last time on Saturday, April 6th, and Dick and Terry Waugh will enter into retirement.
It will be the first time that a Waugh hasn’t reported to work on that corner since the 1930s.
“I came here when I was in high school and worked here while I was in high school,” said Dick on Monday, after announcing the shop’s closure. “When I was still in high school I used to run errands for my father into Boston to get parts. I enjoyed that and all the other work and really fell in love with the business. I worked my way into it and took it over 51 years ago from my father. That was March 25, 1962.”
While Dick Waugh runs the shop, his brothers are also corporate partners in the family company. They include, Samuel of New Hampshire, and twins Harvey (of Lynnfield) and Roger (of Revere Beach). Dick was also a 1954 graduate of Revere High School, finishing up before taking over for his father.
Terry said the business began, however, long before Dick Waugh took the reins from his father, Samuel Waugh.
“We think the building was built in the 1930s,” she said. “His Dad started as a Ford associate dealer before World War II and then it turned into a Chrysler Plymouth dealership. After he died, Chrysler had a hard time and we just sold used cars and did automotive repairs.”
Added Dick, “We think we are the oldest existing business on Broadway. We can’t think of anything that’s been on Broadway longer than us. (other than Broadway Motors that has been there for 65 years.) So, we believe we are the oldest.”
They also added that they expanded into parts distribution, and became an official distributorship of Mopar auto parts – a business that was brisk for years.
The shop also enjoyed a prime location on one of the busiest corners of the city, and the Waugh’s took advantage of that location in recent years to make drivers do a double-take at the display in their showroom.
Often one would see a hot rod car, seasonal decorations on the cars, or dolls placed “creatively” on Dick’s refurbished Rolls Royce.
“We went to a flea market once and found these dolls that go on the cars and started by putting one of them out there,” said Terry. “Then it seemed like every season it grew and grew. We actually had one doll dressed in a leather suit – a bikey – and someone broke in and stole it. They found the guy with the doll sitting at a bus stop on Broadway and we got it back.”
Beyond the good years and good feelings amongst customers, employees and business colleagues – there is a deeper sense of loss with the closing of Waugh’s. Like so many before it, long-time businesses like Stearn’s Hardware, Maggio’s Restaurant and others have seen long runs come to an end over the last 10 years. For many who have lived in Revere for generations – or even for 10 years or so – the closing seems to feel like another sign of the end of an era.
“It is the end of an era here,” said Terry. “Big business doesn’t care as much. You’re not a face or a person or a friend. You lose that individuality that smaller shops had.”
Dick agreed, “The personal touch is gone in a lot of businesses. Individual attention in business is gone – at least the way we did it – and it’s sad, but life moves on.”
Dick reminisced about doing repairs for people on credit, letting them pay when they could; about giving major discounts to elderly customers who could never have paid full price; and about people who had been taken advantage of by less reputable shops.
“I had to be honest,” he said. “That was just my way. The horror stories we got. People would come in and be so upset about what had happened to them. We would look at it and find a simple fix and they were always so relieved. That’s why we leave with mixed emotions. The people of Revere and the surrounding areas are just fantastic.”
Added Terry, “They’re not only good customers, but also they’ve come to be friends over the years. People here have been so loyal to Dick over the years.”
Nevertheless, looking over their shop, both Waughs – who are in their 70s – said they are ready to retire so they can spend more time with their three children and three granddaughters. A sale of the building is pending, and Joe Green of Century 21 D’Amico is representing the family. While they could not release specifics, they said it would be a similar business and wouldn’t be apartments or condos.
They said they wished to thank former employees Tommy Gallant, Kenny Wilson, Robert Carbone, Mary Gates and John Stewart – among many others.
As the discussion came to a close on Monday, Terry asked Dick if it was a good time to retire.
He leaned back in his chair, thought about it, and said, “Yea, it sure is.”