Keith's Garage, 'We Never Close'

A look back at one of Sumter’s busiest automobile repair shops

By SAMMY WAY
Posted 4/15/18

Reflections remembers Keith's Garage, one of Sumter's most utilized automotive repair shops during the '20s, '30s and '40s. The business establishment proclaimed that it was capable of repairing all makes and models of wrecked trucks and cars. …

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Keith's Garage, 'We Never Close'

A look back at one of Sumter’s busiest automobile repair shops

The Big Eagle wrecker at Keith's Garage was named by a Sumter woman.
The Big Eagle wrecker at Keith's Garage was named by a Sumter woman.
SUMTER ITEM FILE PHOTO
Posted

Reflections remembers Keith's Garage, one of Sumter's most utilized automotive repair shops during the '20s, '30s and '40s. The business establishment proclaimed that it was capable of repairing all makes and models of wrecked trucks and cars. Keith's skilled employees could perform electric and acetylene welding, rebuild wrecked automobiles, paint and repair glass. The automotive talents of D. K. Keith's mechanics were highly prized and sought after by auto owners near and far. The material and photos utilized in preparing this article were obtained from The Sumter Item archives.

"Keith's never closes," and Sumter motorists were most grateful for that commitment. Keith's Garage at 31 Dugan St. made it a customary practice of offering 24-hour-a-day service and tackling repair jobs which other garages were often reluctant to accept.

"D. K. Keith, owner and manager, worked in the auto repair business for a total of 30 years. The first 10 he spent in Columbia, S. C., where he ran an establishment like the one he opened in Sumter. When Keith first moved here in 1923, he opened a garage on Oakland Avenue in the old Moise Building. He later moved his business into a building across the street from his previous quarters located at 31 Dugan St. Keith's Garage remained in this facility for a number of years."

Every kind of auto and truck repair except the patching of flat tires was accepted by Keith's. Their primary services included wreck rebuilding, body repairs, fender work, frame work, axle work, wheel balancing, starter repairs, ignition work, motor rebuilding, motor tune-up and radiator repairs.

"Keith's Top Shop," once located across the street from the garage, had the largest stock of materials for this type of repair work of any firm in the Carolinas and Georgia. This shop received a large amount of work from Shaw Field, chiefly the installation of windshields, and performed various repair jobs for the local bus companies. This part of the business specialized in replacing glass in cars and upholstering furniture, installing auto seat covers and performing various touch-up painting.

"The Top Shop" was a newer element of his business; however, it attained a reputation for doing quality work on a variety of goods and products. The high quality of workmanship made this shop successful in acquiring the patronage of clients from both North Carolina and South Carolina.

"Mr. Keith, a native of Columbia, thought of Sumter as his home. The respect and impeccable performance displayed by his firm did a great deal to help the Sumter community earn the reputation of a city which supported progressive businesses."