Snap Shop: Richard’s Body Shop
Keeping the character
Richard’s Body Shop has operated out of this location for 32 years, but the building’s history extends well beyond that. Owner David Kamish says its history dates back to the early 20th century. Prior to the body shop, it was a car dealership. At some point before that, it was a banquet hall. The property was heavily invested in during the mid-point of the century as gentrification struck the Chicago area. Evidence of those days remains, Kamish says, as keeping the character of the building has been “a priority.”
The architecture and design of the building has remained intact. The intricate moldings on the ceiling remain and the grand staircases that remind of the ballroom's past have been kept.
“You have to modernize certain things, but you want to keep the integrity of certain things as possible,” Kamish says.
The front entrance is used to greet customers and serves as a showroom of customers’ finished vehicles. The upstairs is used for office space. Behind the showroom is a frame and aluminum area.
Adapting to the space
Operating in Chicago has its challenges, Kamish says. Space is at a premium and it has forced Kamish to adapt. The shop now serves mostly as a Tesla and Range Rover facility. It also does some Subaru work. The priority has been on a smaller car count but a higher ARO.
“We are focusing more on every single car rather than volume,” he says.
The showroom is where many of the cars are stored, not only so customers can see their vehicles, but also so the vehicles can be kept in a temperature-controlled area. The shop is doing more remote pick-ups and drop-offs, especially since COVID-19.
Kamish also owns much of the adjoining property, including right across the street, which is used primarily for mechanical repairs, but also includes a full frame area. That extra space allows for some wiggle room. Plus, being in the same location for 32 years, Kamish and his staff don’t know much else.
“We pretty much dominate the whole block,” he says.
Showing off the work
With no great parking option on the premises, all of the cars that the shop works on are stored in the showroom. The benefit has been twofold. One, it allows customers to immediately see the restoration of their car when they walk in and it’s a good marketing tool for potential customers who visit the shop and can quickly see the shop’s work. It’s another way that Kamish has adapted the traditional collision repair business model to fit the location.
“The city does definitely provide challenges in moving the cars around, but our new processes have helped in that area,” Kamish says.
Cars are dropped off at the front of the shop and Kamish’s staff will carefully get it transported to the back of the shop for an initial diagnosis. The store also offers free pickup and delivery on all vehicles, whether or not they can be driven—all in the name of convenience for the customer and for the shop.