“The Tire Man” is about to become the retired man.
Fred Moses, longtime owner of Fred’s Treads in Oakwood, is throwing in the shop towel after nearly three decades at his business off Mundy Mill Road at Interstate 985.
“Closing down here is very, very dear to my heart, and I’ll probably cry when I pull out of here” for the last time, he said.
Customers — many of whom have been loyal for years — are struggling too.
Ralph Cavedo said he doesn’t know what he’ll do next for tire service.
“That’s the problem you’re going to have when somebody like this shuts down, but he’s reached this stage in life and he wants to go on and do other things,” Cavedo said.
The 70-year-old Moses, expecting to shut down by Sept. 29, actually has retired once before — around the time he sold his longtime tire business off Buford Highway in Atlanta and moved to a Hall County farm 30 years ago.
“About a year (after the move), I said to myself, ‘Fred, you got to go back to work — you’re going broke fast,’” Moses said.
Driving on Mundy Mill Road, he saw a sign that showed a Chevron service station for lease.
At first, Moses thought to himself, “I don’t want to go back into that (line of) work. That’s tough work, but I had to do something.”
So, he called the number on the sign. He was told the building had just been leased.
“My heart sunk, but (the leaser) said the man hasn’t made the deposit on it yet,” Moses said. “He said I will give him 24 hours and … if he doesn’t, you can have it.”
No deposit was made, and Moses went back into the tire business.
When he opened the store, “I didn’t have an employee, I didn’t have a screwdriver, I didn’t have a can of oil,” he said. “I didn’t have a tire. It was just me here.”
Moses’ business grew over the years, but Moses never went the way of other company-owned repair shops with their carpeted lobbies and Keurig coffee machines. Even the tall sign rising above I-985 and bearing the words “The Tire Man” and his business phone number seems to be from another era.
At Fred’s Treads, where stacks of tires fill the parking lot and the pavement is cracked and fading, customers pull in wherever they can find a place to park and then seek out Moses or another of his employees.
The lobby is an office, where Moses greets customers from his motorized scooter — health problems have prodded his retirement — and talks business or just whatever.
He confessed to “holding court” one day recently with several customers in his office.
“I’ve made a living since 1964 talking,” Moses said. “I’ve never changed a tire, never changed oil in a car, never fixed a flat and, to my knowledge, never balanced a tire.
“Now, there are times there are five, six people around, and I’m entertaining all of them. I can find out something about them or whatever is going on with them, and carry on a conversation with them like I’ve known them all my life.”
Tom Parker of Braselton is another longtime customer who said he’ll miss Moses’ personal touch.
“I hate to see it happen,” he said of Moses’ retirement. “He’s kind of like a fixture here.”
Moses can’t help but get sentimental about his leaving.
When he first opened the business, he would look out at what was then a two-lane Mundy Mill Road, which fell empty at night.
“Seven-thirty p.m. out here was like a ghost town,” Moses said.
Over the years, Oakwood grew up around Fred’s Treads. Restaurants, offices, shopping centers and even a soon-to-be-opened Starbucks line the now six-lane, nearly always busy Mundy Mill Road.
“I look out here every day and I’m visualizing 28 years going by and then I say, ‘Where did it go?’” Moses said.