Big O Tires in Craig moving to much larger location in former Safeway building |

Big O Tires in Craig moving to much larger location in former Safeway building

Big O Tires in Craig's new location sports a massive warehouse of merchandise. The shop, which has been in the Centennial Mall for 30 years, opens up in the old Safeway building just down the strip to the west Nov. 1.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

After 30 years in its current spot in the Centennial Mall, the Big O Tires in Craig is moving on up.

Technically it’s moving on over, just a few hundred yards to the west along the same facade. But for the Wondras, who have owned the local Big O since 2012, it’s a huge step up.

Big O Tires will officially be moved into the old Safeway building on the west side of the mall Nov. 1 after nearly 18 months of work to acquire the building and retrofit it to accommodate the tire shop.

“A lot of pieces had to come together in order to make this happen,” said Kenny Wondra.

It’s a big moment for the family-owned franchise, which is tripling its space from about 6,000 square feet in its soon-to-be former location to 15,000 in the new one.

“It’s super exciting,” said Charlynne Wondra, Kenny’s wife. “I think it’s exciting for Big O as a whole, too. It’s just really good.”

For Kenny and Charlynne’s son Travis, who is part of the family business, it’s a necessary step.

“We’ve outgrown that space,” he said. “We’re doubling our bay space and tripling our total space. More inventory, we can have more cars in the bay.”

It all comes down to one critical fact.

“We can better serve our customers now,” Charlynne said.

That will hopefully include hiring more employees — though Big O is up against the same battle many employers are when it comes to finding employees — as many as four to six. Currently, Kenny said the core crew is seven or eight strong.

“We could really use 12, though,” he said.

Kenny was there when the previous owners opened the Big O in 1991, right where it sits today. Since then, he and the family have traveled around, owning and operating franchises in various places across the Mountain West. Then they came back to Craig in 2012 to buy the shop Kenny had helped start.

“We came home,” Charlynne said.

When the old Safeway, which had been bought by UCHealth with plans to open a clinic, came back up for sale, the Wondras couldn’t pass it up.

“The location and the fact that we are able to use an existing building in Craig and make some improvements, not have another abandoned building — facility-wise it’s going to work great for us,” Kenny said. “The shop is super-established, and it’ll be an easy transition for our customers. Just down the strip.”

While the family is sure it’ll be easy enough to maintain its existing business as it re-trains its customers to park on the western end of the parking lot along Finley Lane, there has been one big hiccup in the move.

“We’re so sorry about the phone,” Kenny said, speaking to an issue that his customers have faced in recent weeks as the phone service transferred over to the new location. “Terribly sorry. It’s been a big frustration for our customers. It was an issue of a couple weeks of no service over there or months without it over here.”

The Wondras are confident, though, that this is going to be a long-term boon for their customers both new and old.

Six more bay doors, faster service, possibly more employees — it’s all better, and not a moment too soon, especially after multiple delays pushed the open date back.

“This fourth quarter is the biggest time of the year for us,” Kenny said. “It’s definitely not the one we’d have chosen to move during, but with the way the world is — supply, labor — it’s just about doing it when you can do it.

“But it’s going to be better. It’s better, bigger, more equipment, more space. We’re going to provide more and do more.”

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