1222 Bentley St.
220 W Cary St.
Second Place (Tie): Paradise Garage and Allen Tire
Ten years ago, Richmond natives Steve Wilkinson and partner Jay Perdue opened Simply Import and “every year it gets bigger,” Wilkinson says. Five-star service is always the goal, he says, and it helps that car owners are hanging on to their vehicles longer. “They’d rather put their money into repairs than car payments,” Wilkinson says. Newer to the garage business but also booming is Jackson Exhaust & Automotive Service, owned by mechanics Diane and Leroy Jackson. “When we started in September 2009, it was just an empty warehouse with six jack stands — one that sunk,” Diane Jackson says. “We went from 30 cars a month to easily a few hundred cars a month.” The secret to success? “It all boils down to just being fair,” she says. Or, as Paradise Garage owner Greg McClellan once described his business philosophy: “I just treat people the way I would like to be treated.” That philosophy has paid off for Paradise, a consistent reader favorite. With parts, products and services, Allen Tire offers a variety of options from five locations across the area.