Front View of Thomas House

Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

Best Family Car Dealership

Ward — Thomas Museum
Home of the Niles Historical Society
503 Brown Street Niles, Ohio 44446

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Phone: 330.544.2143
Mail: PO Box 368 Niles, Ohio 44446

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1942 Oldsmobile ad

Best Used Cars

The ‘Best’ Story — Les Best

Otis Best started fixing cars in 1923 with Harry Mullett, owner of Mullett Motor Sales located at 236 North Main Street. Harry first sold Star-Durant automobiles then later sold DeSoto, Plymouth and the Peerless brands. In 1931 Peerless went out of business during the Great Depression.

In March 1931 Otis Best and Harry Dean formed a partnership, Dean and Best General Repair Shop located at 1121 North Main Street where North Road forms a triangle shaped lot. Later, they moved their repair shop to 100 West Federal Street.(Note, The street address later changed to 100 East Federal when Main Street rather than Vienna Avenue began to be used for mailing addresses).

An Oldsmobile franchise was awarded to Dean and Best in October 1941 at the 100 West Federal address. As written in their partnership agreement, neither Best nor Dean could buy out the other partner’s share of the dealership, so in 1948 Smith-Sherwood bought the Oldsmobile franchise from Dean and Best. Sherwood bought Smith’s interest and the dealership became Sherwood Oldsmobile in 1950.

Otis Best had begun working at Stiver Chevrolet on North Main Street as service manager during 1949-1950. Late in 1950, Otis returned to Sherwood Oldsmobile as service manager. Otis’ son, Rod Best, also worked at Sherwood Oldsmobile from 1950-1958. In 1958 Otis and Rod and Rod’s other son, Duane, bought 1024 North Main Street, across from the American Legion Hall and on the same side of North Main as Dr. West’s Animal Clinic. Rod worked as shop mechanic and salesman. Otis died in 1970 after leaving the shop some years earlier.

Jack Sandman bought the building at 116 East Federal Street and Best Auto Service maintained their business in this building until closing in April 2002. Rod’s wife, Shirley, ran the front office for many years. Les Best, Rod’s older son began working in 1968 until reaching college age. Rod’s younger son, Doug, also worked at this location and obtained an associate degree in Automotive Sales Marketing. Something must have been in the Best genetics that caused nephews and cousins to moonlight at the shop turning wrenches and diagnosing vehicle troubles. Rod Best retired in 1994 while Les and Doug continued the repair shop business until it closed in 2002.

As the years passed, Best Auto Service grew into a community partner. It represented what cities like Girard, McDonald and Niles prided themselves on and seek to be remembered for- being a part of a thriving, trusted family business. Children would often bring in their bicycles for tire and seat repair, at no cost. Many music stands from local high schools received a fresh coat of black paint in the spray booth.

Customers would arrive at 9 AM for a cup of coffee and leave hours later, now caught up on each other’s family happenings. It was not unusual for a customer to answer the phone when all the employees were busy. Best Auto Service cars were in Halloween and Fourth of July parades; even leading the opening lap at Sharon Speedway. Countless cars in Niles wore the recognizable silver “Best Auto Sales” sticker on the back bumper.

Unfortunately, as the automotive industry evolved, small area businesses, like Best Auto Repair, began to feel the pain of a changing economy and competing with super-sized dealers. After 77 years of serving the Niles’ community, their garage doors were closed.


Dean & Best ad

1942 Oldsmobile ad

 

1948 Oldsmobile

1948 Oldsmobile

1948 Oldsmobile


1931 advertisement for Mullett Motors.

Sherwood-Smith Oldsmobile advertisement.

Sherwood-Smith Oldsmobile advertisement.

L: 1931 advertisement for Mullett Motors.

R: Listing of the 1960s service stations.


54 GMC

Sherwood Oldmobile dealership

   

 

 

 


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