RIVER VALE, N.J. — River Vale business owner Ari Manetas had three cars at 17 — two clunkers and a Chevy Camaro.
By 26, the Mahwah native owned Anita Discount Tire and Auto Tire Pros on Westwood Avenue.
He jumped at the prospect of joining the company in the late 1990’s when he heard the founders of the 38-year business were looking to retire. He took over in 1998.
“I’ve loved cars since I was a kid,” said Manetas of Whippany. “I saw [Anita] as a good opportunity to get into automotive work.”
Anita — named after the wife of one of the former owners — was primarily a commercial business for large trucks when Manetas came on board, he said.
Manetas slowly began offering wheel alignments, oil changes and service work.
Among the greatest changes in the business are the size and price of tires, the owner said.
“Eighteen years ago, the biggest tire you’d see was 16 inches,” said Manetas, who enjoys driving the 40-mile commute to work in his BMW. “Now you’ve got 21 to 24-inch tires.
“Back then you could have 20 sizes and they'd fit 80 percent of all cars and SUVs,” he said. “Now you have to have hundreds of sizes in stock.”
Tire prices have sky-rocketed, too. That began in 2013 when oil rates went up — bringing "everything else" with them, Manetas said.
“No one wants to buy tires,” said the owner, pointing to the $1,000 four-packs. “It’s one of those ‘oh crap’ purchases.”
The personalized service and attention at Anita is what longtime customer David Johanson and surveillance camera technician at the shop says has remained the same.
“They all know me when I walk in,” said Johanson, who’s been coming to Anita since the 1970s. “They do whatever it takes and I don’t have to empty out my car like I do at the dealership.
“I know I can leave my tools in there and they’ll be safe,” he said.
Anita Discount Tire and Auto Tire Pros is located at 678 Westwood Ave., in River Vale.
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