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Military veteran opens one-of-a-kind DIY store in Fargo – InForum

FARGO — A 20-year-old business idea has finally come to fruition.

Chris Partridge, founder of

FargoDIYGarage

said he got the idea for his do-it-yourself auto shop during his military service.

“I can’t claim it was originally my idea,” Partridge said. “I was in the Army stationed in Seattle and the Army has had automotive hobby shops for probably 40 or 50 years or more.”

Partridge used army auto shops while wondering how the concept could be adapted to a business. “It’s something I’ve been doing for about 20 years and I finally got the chance last year to start working on it,” he said. “Unfortunately for me, it all happened when COVID-19 started.”

The 901 Westrac Drive store was scheduled to open in late March, but the pandemic pushed the opening to June 1.

One of the biggest obstacles to opening FargoDIYGarage, Partridge said, was finding insurance. “Insurance makes it very difficult to realize this concept,” he explained. “It’s a bit expensive to find insurance and it’s not something most insurers are willing to work with you. I think that’s probably why no one has ever done this before.

FargoDIYGarage has five bays for working on cars and motorcycles. Customers can rent a walk-up bay with tools provided for $20 per hour. A bay with a motorcycle lift and tools is $25 an hour. A bay with tools and a car lift – which can hold up to 9,000 books – costs $35 an hour while those bringing their own tools can use the car lift for $20 an hour.

All bays are fully equipped with a five foot by five foot tool box containing approximately 400 tools as well as a workbench, vise, air compressor system and other specialist tools. “It’s like renting someone’s auto shop,” he says.

Chris Partridge opens one of the toolboxes Friday, September 25, available for rental at the DIY Garage, 901 Westrac Dr., Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

The projects ran the gamut, from “basic mechanic jobs” such as oil changes, brake suspension and fuel pumps, Partridge said, to transmission replacements.

Customers can save hundreds of dollars by renting the store rather than visiting a mechanic, Partridge estimated. Hourly rates for a mechanic can range from $80 to $150 an hour for high-end vehicles before charging a markup on parts and shop fees, he said. “I don’t have any of that. I don’t charge anything other than what it costs you to rent the bay,” he continued. “It’s completely transparent. You don’t have to wonder what exactly is going on.

Before the advent of the internet, mechanics could offer expertise that ordinary motorists did not have access to. With Google and YouTube readily available, that knowledge barrier has been removed, Partridge said. “If you can think of it, someone else has probably done it and I’ll bet there’s a YouTube video on how to do what you want to do,” he said. Access to knowledge and finally securing insurance make the operation “only viable today”, he continued.

“Having this knowledge available to you, once you have it, all you need is desire,” Partridge said. “If you feel like doing it, you can do it.”

The response from the community has been “overwhelmingly positive”, Partridge reported. “They’re as happy as I am to have him,” he said. “I love cars and playing with them is fun for me, so that’s exactly what I wanted: a job I love and something I can do and enjoy.”

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Chris Partridge stands Friday, Sept. 25 outside his DIY garage at 901 Westrac Dr., Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor