Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Exploring Woody’s in West Concord, a specialty auto lit shop September 10, 2015

Woody's Auto Literature and More in West Concord, Minnesota.

Woody’s Auto Literature and More in West Concord, Minnesota.

FOR ANYONE WHO APPRECIATES anything vintage auto-related, Woody’s Auto Literature and More in West Concord is a must stop-and-see.

Dave "Woody" Woodward

Dave “Woody” Woodward

You can’t miss this unique shop in the heart of downtown at 150 Main Street. The front of a vintage orange pick-up truck, a nesting home for birds, protrudes from the storefront under the name Woodys. And if Dave “Woody” Woodward happens to be in the shop, his van will likely be parked out front and he’ll have music blasting from exterior building speakers.

Lots of merchandise is packed into this small store.

Lots of merchandise is packed into this small store which features lovely original wood floors and a partially original tin ceiling.

Inside, a treasure trove awaits those who are gearheads or collectors or who are restoring vintage vehicles or simply have an interest in auto-related stuff.

Vintage art.

Vintage art.

Graphics suspended from the ceiling caught my eye.

Graphics suspended from the ceiling caught my eye.

I love this sweet mini calendar from a service station.

I love this sweet mini calendar for the art aspect.

For others, like me, the interest may be more visual arts-oriented.

Well-worn manuals...

Well-worn manuals…

I see art in these colorful manuals.

I see art in these colorful manuals.

There are shelves and shelves and shelves of manuals.

There are shelves and shelves and shelves of manuals.

Woody specializes in shop manuals, which cram shelves along narrow aisles. He’s been selling shop manuals, mostly to customers restoring cars, since 1998. His interest in the factory original guidebooks stretches back to the 1980s and his days in the Navy when he managed shop manuals. His vocational education is in auto parts, accessories and merchandising and his previous work experience as an auto mechanic. The guy knows autos.

A Blazer emblem.

A Blazer emblem.

Look at this vintage catalog page.

Look at this vintage catalog page.

Woody has a box full of key chains from a now closed dealer.

Woody has a box full of key chains from a now closed dealer.

The kid in you can purchase a toy model kit.

The kid in you can purchase a toy model kit.

From sales brochures to owner’s manuals (which Woody terms “glovebox books”), wiring diagrams, signage, toy model cars, key chains, emblems and way way more, a wide variety of merchandise packs this store. And the subject isn’t limited to cars—items related to tractors, outboard motors, small engines and more are among his offerings.

A sign posted in Woody's shop.

A sign posted in Woody’s shop.

Woody also takes his goods on the road, traveling to shows in places like Iowa, Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania. It’s the reason you may not find him in the shop, even during advertised hours. Best call ahead before driving any distance to check out this truly fascinating business that interested even me, a non-gearhead. The husband, an automotive machinist, felt right at home perusing the merchandise and talking shop with Woody.

Woody's isn't necessarily open during the hours advertised on his business door.

Woody’s isn’t necessarily open during the hours advertised on the front door.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Miscellaneous merchandise.

Miscellaneous merchandise.

My husband thumbs through auto literature.

My husband thumbs through Sun Company specification cards.

The Lone Ranger themed ad on the right is vintage original.

The Lone Ranger themed ad on the right is vintage original.

He even has some parts for sale, like these

He even has some parts for sale, like these manifolds.  Woody carries vintage ignition parts and carb kits.

Woody pulled these autographed photos from his bulletin board. That's former President and Mrs. Bush and, to the left, Mr. Ed. Both were found tucked inside manuals he purchased.

Woody pulled these autographed photos from his bulletin board. That’s former President and Mrs. Bush and, to the left, Mr. Ed. Both pictures were found tucked inside manuals he purchased. He didn’t show me some of the photos he’s found which could not be published on this blog.

If you're a Standard Oil collector or need lights...

If you want a Standard Oil shelf or spotlights…

More miscellaneous goods.

More miscellaneous goods.

FYI: You can also shop at Woody’s online. Click here.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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38 Responses to “Exploring Woody’s in West Concord, a specialty auto lit shop”

  1. Hilary Says:

    what a cool and unusual store!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    I bet Randy was in heaven in this store. Love the store front “bird nest” and all of the colorful manuals. that was a great shot. I bet there were a lot of pictures and items found over the years tucked inside things Woody has acquired over the years. I imagine there is a different website for those. 🙂

  3. Gini Updegrove Says:

    Oh my, I wish I had seen this post yesterday. I took a bunch of old car books to Goodwill. First took them to a local bookstore and they wanted only one. Their comment was that they were worn and people can get that info on the Internet. One GM manual they were willing to give me $0.25 or $2.75 store credit for. I nicely took back the one book and then went to Goodwill. My husband is probably turning over in his grave to think that so many of his “treasures” people just don’t seem to want. It really is a shame, so when I see a place like this it does my heart good.

  4. What a Great Shop – love the visual art aspect of this place too – thanks for sharing this place and great photos 🙂 My dad worked for GM for 30+ years and he was in parts. I remember the parts manuals. I also remember my dad having to learn to use a computer to look up parts. My dad helped the dealership he worked for with recycling of tires, batteries and parts as well as refurbishing parts like alternators. BroCraves is an auto body tech. Car stuff was pretty much a staple growing up. I love the Classic Cars, especially late-60’s to early 70’s. My dream car would be a 70’s Muscle Car – my lead foot would appreciate the power – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy!

    • With that kind of family background, you definitely would appreciate touring Woody’s shop.

    • The men in the family are a bunch of tinkers and the garage was a great place to hang out!

    • woody Says:

      My son Zach has been in the shop at home with me since before he was out of diapers. In fourth grade he had to do a How to Demonstration for class. He could not come up with what he should do, so since he had watching and helping me do oil changes on our cars for most of his young life I suggested he teach the other kids. So he went to school with an oil pan, quart of oil, filter, filter wrench and wrench to take out drain plug. He was one of the few in class that got an A+. It did not hurt, that His Teacher Mr Maki was also a gearhead. They became life long friends. Zach has a 1973 Chevy truck we have been building for the past few years. My daughter Alexis wants a 1966 Mustang, Have not gotten that for her yet, but she did get my 1993 Ford 4 X 4 that is lifted and decked out with everything I could find. She will be going back to college after Christmas break with that. My yougest daughter likes classic cars but just wants something to drive. 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    “He didn’t show me some of the photos he’s found which could not be published on this blog.”

    [Blush]

    • Blush is right.

      However, I did notice a calendar.

      • woody Says:

        There has been some unique finds inside the shop manuals and the boxes of stuff that people bring to me. Money, titles for old cars, stock certificates, and yes, photo’s. someday I am going to try and find the model in one of those pictures. She is I believe from local area town. That picture looks to date back to late 60’s or early 70’s. Just curious to see her now. And the look on her face when I hand her the picture, should be priceless.

      • Good luck with that search. I can only imagine the look on the “model’s” face when she sees your discovered photo.

  6. That looks like an entertaining store. I love the old glass bottles.

  7. Jackie Says:

    Again, my mom’s old stoppin’ grounds… always fun to hear about these little vintage shops. Wow this guy really has a unique collection. I love the wood floors and tin ceiling! The model kits brought me right back to my childhood, I used to enjoy putting them together (with my dads help).

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    My Dad would have spent the whole day talking with Woody. What a cool place! So many old shops like this specialize in just one make, maybe two… Woody seems to have an eclectic collection of various model parts and manuals, and all sorts of “extras” for the vintage and antique auto buffs. Nice photographs!

    • Oh, yes, Woody has a lot of everything.

      • woody Says:

        I have a lot of people that stop by and just come in to chat. Some are the regular locals that come in to visit others saw the truck frontend and heard the music, and had to see what it is all about. Some have stopped and later come back with stuff they want to sell. Someday’s it is hard to get any work done, but that’s okay I love to talk about old cars and help those that may have questions about a problem on their classic car. My favorite was a young man from town, found out that he was 14. He came in numerous times asking questions about our Cruise in, we used to host. Does it cost anything, do the cars have to be finished, do you have to have a DL to bring a car, etc. Finally I said everybody is welcome. Turned out he had a 70’s Nova his dad had been helping him build and he wanted to bring it down. Of course I encouraged him to bring it. His dad brought it down and they were going to just go home and come back later to pick it up. I asked him to stick around because people would have questions. Well he did not have the best looking car that night, but he got the most attention of any. All of us in the classic car hobby know that if we do not get the youger generation intrested in our old cars the hobby will go away. That young man came in with a big smile at the end of the night to thank me for letting him come. It was awesome.

      • What a great story. I love how you encouraged this 14-year-old. What a difference you’ve likely made in his life. We need more adults with your type of encouraging attitude.

  9. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    I wouldn’t expect a shop like this to be able to make a go of it. Congrats to Woody for keeping an interesting store alive.

    • He sells his stuff online and goes to shows in addition to selling from his shop. I think he’s doing well as his is such a unique business and there are lots of people who restore cars.

      • woody Says:

        If I just counted on locals to keep me in sales, I probably would be closed. When I came to town to oepn up I knew I had to bring my customers to town to survive. Like Audrey mentioned most of my sales are from traveling to shows and the people that grab my card at shows. At some point I would like to get a building put up at home and move my business there. the forty mile drive each way to get to store gets old. I would also have a much bigger show room at that point also. I have a lot of neat stuff in storage I have no room for at the store presently.

      • Woody, consider Faribault. My community would be a good fit for you and your business. We have weekly car cruise nights during the summer and other car shows. There are a lot of gearheads and old car collectors here. You would be a perfect fit in our historic downtown. And, bonus, Faribault would be a short drive from Millersburg.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    You could spend hours in a shop like this. I love all the vintage art works xx

  11. woody Says:

    Thanks Audrey for the great pictures and blog about my store. I enjoyed talking with you and your husband. I don’t do any advertising, it’s all done by word of mouth. I just believe that if you build it they will come. oops, that was in movie. But it is my motto for my business. All summer long I pipe 50’s and 60’s music into the streets to help liven up the often way to quiet town. during the Christmas season we play music fitting the season. We were hosting Woody’s Hump Day Cruise In, for years before the camel made Hump Day popular again. We had classic cars from the cities to the Iowa border coming to enjoy a night of fun and to show off their cars. but we have not done that the past couple of years, some of the other towns started doing them also and the car count dropped to about 10-15 cars a night. we have had a lot of requests to start up again, so we will see what happens next year. Well once again Thank You. I am heading out for Fort Worth Texas on Tuesday and will be on the road for about 6 weeks doing car shows throughout the south. So once again you will find the streets of West Concord a little quieter.

  12. StreetRodder Says:

    I’ve know Woody for many years. I’ve bought literature, and I have participated in a large number of his shows. I enjoyed them so much, I would drive 75 miles to go to a show, and bypass a show in my own neighborhood. Im always glad to make the drive to go to one of Woodys Shows. StreetRodder


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