Trips Abroad: Kingston Auto Sales in Peace Dale
The shiny, cherry red Audi parked out front might suggest a high-pressure setting. Nearby, though, is a rather small, unimposing sign, Kingston Auto Sales and Service. In maroon letters on a brown background, this sign is a far more accurate indication of the atmosphere at this car sales and repair business in Peace Dale.
Sina Nikkhah, General Manager of Kingston Auto Sales and Service, is a straightforward, plainspoken, albeit very friendly, man who established Kingston Auto Sales in 1988.
“My brother Razi and I started the business. It was uphill at first, hard to get people in,” Sina said. “Over the years, though, I think it’s fair to say we’ve gained a reputation for trust and reliability.”
Sina’s opinion is affirmed in a customer’s letter to the editor framed and hung next to the check-in counter. Among the many plaudits in the letter, the customer wrote that “Kingston Auto was true to its word, reaffirming trust... and demonstrating a mercantile honesty that is becoming quite rare.”
The Kingston Auto Sales website reflects this reliable, responsive business climate as well as its low-key atmosphere. Using “used car” as opposed to the current euphemistic “pre-owned,” the ad slogan is “You’re In The Right Hands.”
Allan Mackay, an Island resident (and my son-in-law), felt he was in the right hands when he bought a van from Sina. “I felt right away that I was dealing with someone who was honest, who was giving me straight information. I really wasn’t all that surprised since I had talked to several people on the Island who told me Kingston Auto was the place to go.”
Allan went on to explain that “After having the car inspected, Sina paid for a catalytic converter which had to cost close to eight hundred dollars.”
Sina is quick to credit his mechanic, Stanley Bates, for contributing to Kingston Auto’s positive reputation. “Stanley’s been with us for 20 years,” said Sina. ”He’s the best there is.”
Bates has been a mechanic for over 30 years. “I started as a kid working on cars with my uncle who’d say, “Grab that wrench.” Next thing, I’d be using the wrench. Back in those days, we were ‘points and plugs’ guys. Nowadays, though, you’ve got to be a real technician. But with the help of friends and the computer, I keep up with the changes.”
Asked to describe a particularly challenging repair job, Stanley, without even a hint of a smile, says, “How about this one? A customer’s car was leaking anti-freeze. We checked the intake gasket and pulled out a chicken bone.” Now he smiles: “It was a wishbone. Honest. We kept it for him.”
Sina refined his own skill as a mechanic while growing up. “I was always fixing things around the house and spent a lot of time working on engines. I came to America in ’76 to attend Johnson and Wales, graduating in ’80 with a degree in accounting.”
Sina explains that he went home to the Middle East but, facing economic instability and repression, he decided to return to the U.S. only to be confronted with the severe recession of the early 80s.
He describes managing to cobble together various jobs (while studying for his U.S. citizenship) until he and Razi were able to take advantage of the auto sales and service opportunity. Despite struggling through three more recessions over the past 25 years, the business has grown. “We’re coming out of this recession in pretty good shape. Customers who had been doing their own repairs are coming back. And sales have improved too,” Sina said. “We’re selling good cars in the $4,000 to $6,000 range.”
The cherry red Audi? Well, that might cost more, but Sina would be glad to talk with you about it.
Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kingston Auto Sales and Service is at 1880 Kingstown Road (Route 108) in Peace Dale between the South Kingstown Police Station and Tony’s Pizzeria. Contact them at (401) 789-2266 for Sales and (401) 789-2680 for Service, or at (888) 385-2006. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their website (www. kingstonautori.com) contains photos of current inventory.