After 50 years, Town Creek Auto Repair closing at the end of the month

Dusty Haithcock has always had a lifelong passion for cars, especially diagnosing and fixing what’s wrong with them.

His love for automobiles, which was fostered by his grandfather Dugan Talbert, who shared the same passion, began at a young age. He recalls first driving a car, a 1953 Ford, when he was around 6 and rebuilding his first engine when he was about 14.

Originally an electrician at one of the mills who sold cars on the side, his grandfather opened Town Creek Auto Repair on West Main Street in Albemarle in 1972, named for the small creek adjacent to the property. It served as an attractive location as it was one of the first businesses people noticed as they drove into the downtown area.

Talbert rented the space, which had been a service station, for $50 a month.

Only 15 at the time, the new business quickly piqued Haithcock’s interest.

“When he got this place, I started skipping school to come down here and I’ve been here ever since,” Haithcock said.

Dugan operated the repair shop for close to 30 years before he died and Haithcock took over.

“It’s been my whole life down here,” he said.

Now, after 50 years of service, Town Creek will be closing its doors for the final time at the end of the month as the owner of the building recently sold it to individuals from Charlotte. The business will be open through Thursday. Haithcock said he’s seen an uptick in business lately as customers have come by wanting him to inspect their vehicles one last time.

“It’s hard to give it up,” he said about walking away.

Like any business with a rich history, Town Creek has served generations of families over the decades. Customers keep coming back as a result of the reliable service Town Creek has consistently offered.

“I’ve always tried to treat people fair and I love talking to people,” Haithcock said.

Unlike many other businesses, Town Creek has no online presence nor has it ever relied on advertising to court new customers; the main way people find out about the shop is through old-fashioned word of mouth.

“Once I do something for somebody they’ve always come back,” he said.

Dusty Haithcock has owned Town Creek Auto Repair for about 30 years.

Town Creek has also been a popular hangout spot for Haithcock and his friends over the years. They would stay up late in the early morning playing pinball and foosball while Haithcock worked on their hot rods.

As he prepares to close the business, Haithcock said he will most miss the relationship he’s fostered with his many customers, many of whom, he said, have become his good friends.

While he will no longer have a presence in downtown Albemarle, Haithcock has no plans to slow down. He is looking forward to spending more time with his family, especially his new grandson River. And he wants to open his own shop at his house.

“I enjoy working on cars, I’ve done it for so long,” he said.