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Street rod business spins on parts, pups

Staff writer

A love of tinkering with street rods and spending time with like-minded car fans launched Rex and Annette Watson into a niche business at Peabody.

Although their Peabody showroom opened a year ago, the Watsons have owned Affordable Street Rods since 2012. The business itself began in Great Bend 30 years ago.

The business sells car parts ranging from tiny stickers to reproduction bodies for street rod renovation.

“It’s a mom-and-pop industry,” Rex said. “In the scheme of things, it’s a very low volume business. None of these things are mass production anymore.”

The Watsons, accompanied by their mascot, Moose, travel the street rod show circuit year-round, loading two large trailers with car parts. Doing so brings them into contact with friends, customers, and potential new customers. They set up 30’x80’ mobile parts stalls and sell items street rod owners need.

This year’s schedule includes 25 shows spanning from Scottsdale, Arizona, to Syracuse, New York.

When Moose started traveling with the Watsons in February, the publicity hound quickly became the star of the operation. If he approves something or someone he sees, he poses for a photo and then it’s “Moose Approved.”

The Watsons’ say the operation isn’t just about cars.

“At first glance to outside people, this business is about cars,” Annette said. “Really, it’s about the whole tapestry of dealing with people.”

“It’s really not about cars,” Rex said. “You go to a show and you sit next to your buddy and you leave the show, go to a local hotel and sit and visit.”

The Watsons also sell parts by phone and online.

People creating street rods commonly change out existing tail lights to LED tail lights so cars coming up behind can easier see the rod. Sometimes a rod body is so rusted out it needs to be replaced. Sometimes wiring needs to be replaced. Whatever it is, the Watsons can likely find it and get it to the customer.

They’ve shipped parts to France, Canada, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and all over the United States.

Although the Watsons can connect customers to nearly anything they need for a street rod, one thing they don’t sell is the cars themselves.

Last modified June 19, 2019

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