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Arnie worked at the paint store from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then cut hair from 2 to 6 p.m., which were his “most opportune times,” Bill said.
Bill, a college student at the time, ran the paint store in his father’s absence, which included delivering paint in his 1965 Mustang, George said.
“Mom was the bookkeeper,” Bill said.
“And the delivery person and collection agent,” George said. "When someone was slow at paying their bills, Mom explained she had nine children at home to feed and usually got a payment on [the] account."
Bill added, “Mom did not have a computer. She wrote all the invoices and statement by hand, which 20 hours a week of work."
“While trying to feed nine kids at the same time,” George added,
Back then, George said, customers didn't want to patronize stores where the staff didn't know how to paint. So Arnie brought paint home, hooked up a compressor in the garage and painted a friend's camper, he continued.
A hailstorm on the west side of Joliet in the spring of 1970 gave Arnie's business an unexpected boost, George said. Most of the shops only wanted to use factory-mixed paint, so Arnie's competitors quickly ran out of paint.
"The shops said, 'How about that new guy on Hickory Street?'" George said. "And that got Arnie started in all the shops."
Bill said Arnie, who bought the store at 40, wanted to retire at 50 and worked out an 11-year buy-out agreement, Bill said. Arnie figured by the time he turned 65, his sons could support the business.
One skill that made Arnie a successful barber also made him a very successful auto parts store owner.
“He was a very outgoing person,” Bill said. “He was a likable man and knew how to talk to people.”
George, an introvert by nature, took improv classes and joined Toastmasters in order to develop those skills, he said.
(Customers and employees can be seen Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, at Arnie's Auto Body in Joliet, Ill. The Joliet staple will celebrate its 50th anniversary in business this year).