Business feature: Muleshoe store owner retiring after 42 years

By Eric Butler: Freedom New Mexico

You could say that Charles Bratcher got into a little bit of a routine while running an auto parts shop in Muleshoe for the last 42 years.

Here’s how Bratcher says it:

“After you’ve done something for a while, it becomes a habit. I’m kind of in the habit of going over there,” Bratcher said. “I don’t know if my truck will go anywhere else when I leave home.”

Located on East Avenue B in Muleshoe, near First Street, Bratcher Motor Supply’s last day of business was Oct. 31. Bratcher sold the business to Marcos Martinez, a resident of Muleshoe for the past 30 years.

The auto store was originally owned by Clay Beavers in the 1940s, and Bratcher bought Bovell Motor Supply in 1967.

“There’s two businesses at the location, actually, and one has sold auto parts since 1945,” Bratcher said.

With 40-plus years in the industry, Bratcher believes the auto part business as a whole has changed considerably.

“When we first started, there was a lot of engine overhauls and major internal engine parts were sold. Cars and engines have become so much better,” Bratcher said. “People talk about the good ol’ cars and all this kind of stuff. These new ones just run and run and run.”

That’s not generally good for entrepreneurs hoping to make a buck off of cars that have problems, but Bratcher thinks the new owner of his business will do just fine.

Martinez is planning on moving the site of the store, now called Muleshoe Auto Parts, to the intersection of American Boulevard and N.M. 214.

“I think it’s a good location, where I’m going to move it,” said Martinez, who thinks the physical relocation will happen within the next two weeks.

“It’ll probably be a good move for them; they’ll be over on the main drag, where they’ll possibly get more traffic,” Bratcher said.

Back at the old site, long used to being oriented toward car repair, the place might eventually be transformed into a tortilla factory, according to Martinez.

“I’ve got trails worn in the floor where I’ve gone back and forth and up and down,” said Bratcher, who likes to joke about his current state of retirement, now just over a week old.

“My wife (Tommie) has got the bright idea of cleaning out the closets and cleaning out the storeroom,” Bratcher said. “I’m starting to wonder if this is a good idea or not.”