From Part-time Worker to Store Owner: Jason Kirby, Western Auto
Meeting the needs of customers isn't new to Jason Kirby, the current owner of Western Auto on Main Street in downtown Exmore. In fact, it's something he has been doing, and loving, for over thirty years. Jason, who grew up on Monroe Street, started working at the store on Main Street when he was in high school and just never stopped. The school bus made a special stop to let him off in front of Western Auto in time for his afternoon shift. The owner at that time was R.A. Charnock. When Charnock was ready to retire, Jason was ready to take over the reins of the business. In 2006, Jason purchased the store and its extensive inventory of hardware, home & garden supplies, tools and other equipment for do-it-yourselfers of that era. And of course, automotive supplies along tricycles and kids' wagons.
Entering the Westen Auto in Exmore today is like stepping back decades into a time when the local hardware store was the best source for finding the essentials needed to fix, repair or replace just about anything. The old-fashioned ambiance remains, along with some treasures from the past. But with online shopping making it more difficult for local retailers to succeed, Jason has shifted his focus from sales to service. If you need to repair your bikes and lawn equipment, 3364 Main Street is the place. Want to rent a Bounce House or Waterslide for your party? You can do that here as well. If you see a Bounce House at a charity event or activity sponsored by the Exmore Police Department or Northampty County Sheriff's Office, it is likely Jason donated it!
And in addition to selling fishing and hunting gear, Jason also issues the permits and licenses required by the state of Virginia. This includes commercial fishing licenses. As the only state authorized issuer in the region, Jason estimates he issues a minimum of 500 commercial permits a year to watermen up and down the Eastern Shore.
The current Main Street location is the third location for Western Auto in Exmore. The original store, opened in 1934 by T. Charles Renner, was on Broad Street. This legacy distinguishes Western Auto as the longest continuously operating business in the Town of Exmore. With Jason Kirby at the helm, you can expect more milestones, and more generations of satisfied customers.
Note: In the photo posted on the Town of Exmore Facebook page on Thursday, Oct. 13, showing Broad Street in the 1940s, if you look closely, you can see the sign for Western Auto!