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Posted on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor's decades-old Bill Muncy's auto repair shop to close this week

By Lizzy Alfs

After more than 40 years of working in the auto repair business, Ken Garrott has decided it’s time for a change.

Garrott, the owner of Bill Muncy’s Service on Ann Arbor’s Miller Avenue, and his wife, Mary, plan to close the auto repair shop and enter retirement on Nov. 30.


Bill Muncy's Service, located on Ann Arbor's Miller Avenue since 1975, is closing next week.

Photo from

“I’ve been working on cars since I was 18-years-old and I’m kind of getting tired…we’re just excited to start living the good life,” Ken said.

Ken grew up in Ann Arbor and received automotive technical training at Washtenaw Community College before a 12-year stint at Howard Cooper Import Center. He then transferred to Bill Muncy’s, located at 423 Miller Ave., and purchased the business in 1997.

The shop, which Bill Muncy opened in 1975, specializes in import repairs.

“This is exciting and scary at the same time,” Ken said. “I’ve never been unemployed. I’ve always had a job and never had to look for a job; the job always found me. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard.”

The auto shop is part of a community of businesses located in Ann Arbor’s Old West Side neighborhood. It’s across the street from Knight’s Meat Market and Big City Small World Bakery.

Ken said it’s that neighborhood feel — and the auto shop’s positive reputation — that has garnered Bill Muncy’s a loyal customer following.

“We’ve built a reputation (on trust),” he said. “If a customer doesn’t need something, I don’t try to sell it to them.”

He added: “A lot of (our customers) we’ve known for years and they’re like family...I just want to thank them for their loyalty and patronage.”

Over the years, Ken said business has been steady, although the auto repair market is dwindling somewhat since cars are getting more reliable. He said he was interested in selling the business, but hasn’t had any takers.

Muncy still owns the site, which has an assessed value of $94,800. Ken said Muncy would be willing to sell or lease the property.

And as for the Garrotts’ retirement?

“We have a little place (in northern Michigan), so we’ll spend summers there and go to Florida in the winter,” he said. “I also love motorcycling, so I hope to be able to ride a lot more.”

Mary added: “I’m ready to move on, but it’s amazing, this is emotional.”

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

also to note that carter;s auto service is simultaneously winding down operations. another terrific shop that has bailed out a couple of my ill autos over the years. they are on ashley at west jefferson next to the railroad tracks. property owners are rumoured to be considering another entertainment establishment for the old west side.

Snarf Oscar Boondoggle

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

thought this ought not be in original post: ... but in a reply.


Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

Please correct me if i am wrong, but this site, also used to be the site for "Maynard's Battery", and their used to be a "Texaco" gas station their. Am I right or wrong??

Cendra Lynn

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

Bill Muncy made it possible for me to maintain my car at affordable rates and never get cheated. I'd come in to get something done and if he said, "You don't really need that," it didn't get fixed. One time he said, "You can't drive that car any further; I'll drive you home." Car was that unsafe. The shift from Bill to Ken was seamless as Ken was already there. So was Jimmy. Excellence continued. There are really good people in the world, and Bill, Ken, Mary, and Jimmy are four of them. I have no idea who can fix my car now. Any suggestions?


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.

Thank you for your service. And I do mean service!!


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

One of the very few places in town where I would unhesitatingly recommend a friend take their import. Enjoy your well-earned rest, guys!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Ken and Mary, we'll be sad to see you go but there's not a shred of doubt in my mind that you two have earned your retirement. God bless you both!

Tim Hornton

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

I'm sick of Walmart killing all our mom and pop shops like this. Is there no social justice anymore?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

No... there's no " bugs " anymore....


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

Ken and Mary, you have serviced my dear auto with the best of care.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

Good for you, Bill. Never had the privilege of visiting your shop, but you must have been doing something right if you lasted 40 yrs. Here's a thought: If you own the building, sell the building to your current employees for little or now money down on Land Contract. Then, they can continue to operate the business and pay you each month a percentage of the business income until they can re-finance the property and pay you off. Better for you than shutting the doors and getting nothing... you get some much deserved retirement income and they get to keep their jobs and own a small business. Any Title Company or Real Estate Office can help you set up a Land Contract. All the best and thank you for you service to the community.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Excellent idea!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Bill sold the business to his employee Ken way back when. Maybe you mean Ken should sell it to an employee?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

I wish the Garrots a wonderful retirement, they have earned it. It could not have been easy to survive as a small business like that within Ann Arbor. I know that Bill was happy to have them continue on with the good service that he had provided for so many years before.

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

Oops - I definitely meant Ken!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Not sure about Bill, but Ken will! Although I bet he is a major "putterer"!

Lizzy Alfs

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

Definitely hard work. They were there M-F for 10, 11, 12 hours. Bill is going to be shocked at all the time he has on his hands now!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.

I had one bad experience there. Never went back. I took my car in for a new alternator, which he previously said he would do. On the day of the service appointment I came to pick up my car and he said he "didn't feel like working on it" and then charged me $30 "evaluation fee". Good Ridance!


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

Real nice, Yohan. good way to send someone into retirement, i.e. with something nasty ringing in his ears.that was stinging sarcasm in case you didn't recognize it.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

I am sure there is more to this story .Hard to believe that someone in business all those years said "Didn't feel like working like working on it" This is a story about someone retireing not your waa waa story.

Joe Hood

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.

Would that be a pun based upon Ken's desire to ride his motorcycle?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Another abandon building by the train tracks. Less lights on at night in that area. I hope someone buys it.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Sad to hear they are closing and I wish them the best in retirement. In a world filled with repair shops that try to rip customers off, they were remarkably fair and trustworthy.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 5:11 p.m.

djacks- depends. You do really need to know what is going. I would pity anyone who has no mechanical comprehension, because I have saved thousands of dollars just by asking a few more questions .AND even at that I just got overcharged $700 on a service( that I ended up doing it for 75$ after they charged me)


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

@ djacks: You just (unintentionally) confirmed my original point.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 3:06 a.m.

@djacks24: You don't understand. Ken was honest enough to explain all the options. The others were not. Due diligence is a tangential issue. @northside went to two places who told him the same thing. He could have gone to three more and gotten the same story. Would five places be due diligence?


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

Actually, no it is not because I have worked in the business. In your example, some places can only do the entire system for that price (also, much of that cost is because the catalytic converters cost several hundreds of dollars alone) due to the fact they don't specialize in that type of repair. Exhaust shops have pipe benders and can usually just do a piece by piece replacement of the exhaust by welding cut pipe and such. But if you go to a dealer, they will price out the entire exhaust most of time. This isn't anybody ripping anybody else off. It's simply common sense. Just like if you were diagnosed with an illness, you might want to do some research or get a second opinion. Calling all shops rip-offs because you do not want to put in any due diligence on your own is irrational.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

@ djacks: Your experiences might be better because you've worked in the automotive business for a long time. The odds of someone trying to rip you off are probably lesser, not just because of your contacts but also because you more likely have good knowledge of cars. I'll just mention one example and not cite any specific businesses. Two repair places told me that my previous car needed an exhaust system replacement, around $1200. On the recommendation of a friend I took it to Bill Muncy's. Ken pointed out that it was only a small segment of the system that needed to be replaced. He said he couldn't do the work himself unless I replaced the entire system and referred me to another locally owned place that could do the small segment. The first two places would have made $1200 on a repair I didn't need. Not only was Bill Muncy's honest in saying that a much smaller repair was needed, they also referred me someplace else. They did the right thing even though it cost them a significant sum of money, at least in the short term. In the long term they earned my steady business, as well as that of people I referred.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

That's really not a fair assessment. I spent nearly 20 years in the automotive business and even now I'm in service and repair (although not automotive). I have many friends and acquaintances that are shop owners and they are very honest. I have yet to meet many dishonest shop owners besides the ones that cheat the system working out of their own garage, or techs that steal clients from their employers.


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 12:50 p.m.

Great run ..long live the " Bug ".......


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:40 a.m.

God bless and thoroughly enjoy your retirement. As most retirees will say, you will fill up your time with so much that you will wonder how you found time to work. Thank you for your long service business and thoroughly enjoy your retirement.