The Volkswagen bug and bus may be endangered species, but the Grams’ family business has kept brand enthusiasts covered with hard-to-find, original stock for decades.
Vintage Parts Inc., owned by Sherry Grams, is the Santa Clarita Valley’s only restoration parts shop, specializing in old Volkswagen Beetles from 1949-77 and buses from 1956-71.
After losing her husband, Shawn, to cancer in 2017, who owned and operated the store, Grams has decided to sell the business, but customers are pleading them not to let it go.
“We (the family) were more focused on him,” said Sherry. “We were hoping he was going to have new treatments, and we were going to save him. Two years later though, here we are with Katlyn (one of the Grams’ daughters) at Vintage Parts.”
“It hasn’t closed; we must be doing something right,” said Katlyn, who said she learned the business by spending time with Shawn throughout the years.
Located at 25011 W. Avenue Stanford, the Vintage Parts offers aisles and aisles of new and used original parts ranging from transmissions to breaks, speaker grills and mud flaps, totaling an inventory of about 70,000 Volkswagen parts. The business, which also buys and sells worldwide, manufactures in Santa Clarita. Items made locally include gear shift knobs, horn emblems and heating control knobs.
Longtime customer Ian Berger, who is restoring a 1959 beetle with his 12-year-old son Ronan, said this store is vital to the Volkswagen community.
“For me, it’s important to keep these businesses alive because if you don’t they’re just going to disappear,” he said. “In the Southern California area, there’s only a handful of shops that are available to VW owners. There used to be hundreds. You could throw a rock and find a VW business.”
With the internet as a fierce competitor and with auto parts becoming more scares due to Volkswagen discontinuing its beetle and bus models, Vintage Parts has become a go-to for the Bergers and many others from in and around the SCV.
“You have to find sources and Sherry has been a great resource,” said Berger. “Every time I come in, I buy items because I know it may not be there next time, and if it is, it’ll be twice the price.”
Berger said that after learning about Shawn’s death, he has become “somewhat of an advocate for her (Sherry)” and has even helped around the business.
Vintage Parts started in Glendale in 1972 by Bob Scott, Shawn’s stepfather. Scott would bring back parts from Germany for his friends while a college professor. When he saw significant demand for parts, he quit his job and opened the business, selling new original Volkswagen stock.
Shawn then bought the business in 1994. Since then, Sherry joined her husband at swap meet events selling parts and helping run the company during evening hours. Since his death, however, it has been a challenge to keep it afloat.
“Shawn wanted to sell this place,” said Sherry. “After he died, we really wanted to sell it — but there was a part of me that wasn’t ready, because I felt Shawn here, because he spent so much time here. All those boxes in the warehouse have his handwriting. It was hard to let go of the memories.”
In the last six months, however, she decided: “The time has come, and we are ready to sell Vintage Parts.”
The right buyer has to come, though, she and Katlyn agreed. Until then, the mother-daughter duo would love to see more customers come through the doors to help them pay off company debt and continue helping VW enthusiasts find their parts.
For more information about the business, visit vintagepartsinc.com.