Mike Steien, owner of Preston NAPA Auto Parts, stands in the back room of his new store location off Highway 52. The store is located on Spring Avenue at the former BP station and has been open for business ever since Mike and his employees began transferring merchandise over from the old feed store location two weeks ago.
Mike Steien, owner of Preston NAPA Auto Parts, stands in the back room of his new store location off Highway 52. The store is located on Spring Avenue at the former BP station and has been open for business ever since Mike and his employees began transferring merchandise over from the old feed store location two weeks ago.
The Preston NAPA Auto Parts store has moved again. The business, which is celebrating 20 years of being located throughout Preston, is now located in the old BP station off of Highway 52. The past couple weeks have been the final phase of a moving process, which started over a year ago.

John Steien started the hardware store in 1993 and his son, Mike, took over in 2001 once he retired. The store has moved around Preston over the past two decades. It started at the current site of Preston Iron Works and Truck Repair, moved to where Curt's Standard Repair is now located and finally ended up at the old feed store south of downtown on Mill Street.

Mike said the recent move to the location off the highway was prompted by a few factors. He had received numerous comments over the years from residents who had stopped in the store and said they previously had not known about the store. Mike recognized issues with visibility at the Mill Street location.

Also hanging over his head was the possibility that he would be forced to move out anyway should the National Trout Center project become a reality. The NTC project would acquire and demolish the land south of Mill Street running to the Root River, which is where Mike's store was located. A permanent home for the NTC would be built there instead.

Noticing the vacant BP store on Spring Avenue, Mike moved forward and purchased it just over a year ago. It became his personal project throughout the next year. He gutted it, had the tanks removed, put on a new roof, re-cemented the old car-wash area, painted and had the HVAC redone. He finished preparing the building in early autumn and decided to move the merchandise over.

Over the past two weeks, Mike, his workers, Mark Berry and Nate Bueltel, and his wife, Sylvia, have been transitioning everything over to the new store. For about a week, transactions were being accepted at both locations, but everything is now handled at the new location. Mike said the old building would be used for storage and a shipment center.

"It was very organized and everything went smoothly," Mike reported on the move.

The new location is smaller than the previous, but Mike said the layout of the new store is very similar to the old one. There are plans to add inventory, but Mike said most everything will be "business as usual."

Preston Auto Parts is NAPA-affiliated and sells auto parts, hardware and does hydraulic hose repairs. Every nook and cranny of the old car wash and back rooms is filled with storage.

Mike said there will probably be some changes in the future. He joked he has done enough planning for now.

Being in a new, more visible location has already started to pay dividends. The store is now able to attract people driving on Highway 52 who may have not known about Preston's NAPA store.

Mike reported he had received many positive comments from the public as they have stopped in. Signage will continue to be added to increase highway visibility.

"Stop in and see the changes," encouraged Mike, whose personal project over the past year has now turned into a major boost for those with hardware and auto part needs.