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Old Town shop keeps classics rolling
Posted March 27, 2006

Tom Anderson
Editorial Director

For the last 14 years, Rainbow Printing has occupied the shop located between the Coin Depot and La Verne Optometry on the east side of D Street in Old Town La Verne. But almost a year and a half ago a new business, Tri-5 Classics, moved in under the same roof. Fortunately, this unusual arrangement has worked out quite well for both parties, which is not surprising when you consider the fact that one firm is owned by a father and the other by his daughter.

Roy Prudhomme, who has been in the printing business since 1977, has long been an enthusiast of cool cars, particularly 1955, ’56 and ’57 Chevrolets. So when his daughter, Danielle Blanco, came to him in late 2004 asking for a suggestion of what kind of business she could open, a firm that sold parts and accessories for classic Chevys seemed natural.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, meeting a lot of people,” Blanco said of the people she has met both at the shop and at the swap meets in Pomona and Long Beach where the company is usually a vendor. Blanco said she has dozens of loyal customers throughout Southern California, including almost 20 within the La Verne city limits. She also has some regular customers in the San Diego and Las Vegas areas, and has shipped parts to as far away as Australia.

Tri-5 Classics sells both new and old parts. The new parts, predominantly exterior and interior trim pieces, are purchased from companies like Danchuk and C.A.R.S., Inc., both located in Santa Ana, where Blanco drives to buy parts once a week. She usually resells the reproduction parts for less than what they retail for if purchased directly from the Orange County firms.

“It’s definitely a discount,” she said. “By giving the people a discount, pick it up for them and shop for them we’re able to stay in business.”

The old parts, commonly referred to as “N.O.S.” (new-old stock) are brought in by customers and sold on consignment. These parts are the more unique, hard-to-find pieces, including steering columns, suspension components and wheels. The people who bring the parts in set the price, and Blanco said that price is usually met. The seller then receives the amount the item sold minus Tri-5 Classics’ 10 percent consignment fee.

Despite being a decidedly niche business, Tri-5 Classics manages to maintain an estimated 120 to 130 steady customers. And needless to say, city officials have taken notice.

L.D. Johnson, maintenance operations superintendent for the City of La Verne and coordinator of next month’s Cool Cruise car show that will feature an entire area of classic Chevys in front of Tri-5 Classics, has referred friends to Tri-5 Classics for car parts and has marveled at how many customers the company has attracted in such a relatively short time span. But Johnson was quick to add that Blanco’s success should come as no surprise in light of her father’s accomplishments.

“Any business as thriving as Rainbow Printing is an asset to the city,” Johnson said, adding that Tri-5 Classics only adds to the diversity and overall appeal of the Old Town district.

As for Dad, he is understandably proud of what Blanco has been able to accomplish.

“Little by little she’s branching out” into more areas of the classic car scene, Prudhomme said, alluding to Blanco’s recent addition of car-themed clothing. Prudhomme’s firm does mostly wholesale printing for larger firms, as well as the occasional job for the University of La Verne.

And while many a father-daughter pair would probably be loathe to even considering sharing the same retail space, Blanco claims she and her father couldn’t be happier.

“I help him out, he helps me out,” she said.

Tom Anderson can be reached at tanderson1@ulv.edu.