It was raining yesterday, and one of my windshield wipers started to tear. I knew there was an auto parts store near where I was at, so I stopped in. It turned out to be The AutoZone (AZO). One of the employees was outside smoking and talking to another guy. I went in and found the wipers. I am used to auto parts stores having a book, or some other device to tell me which blades I need for my car. Yet here at The Auto Zone there was no book or device that I could see. Two employees were helping customers at the counter, and another was running around, but didn’t seem to be doing anything other than running around. I tried to get someone’s attention, but after a couple minutes, I gave up and left. I continued on my way, and found an Advance Auto Parts (AAP). The store was cleaner, larger, and seemed to have about the same number of customers inside. I found the wipers, and here they had a little electronic device to tell me which wipers to get. I got a couple wipers, and paid for them. The sign near the wipers said free installation. I asked, and the employee happily came out and installed the wipers on my car in the rain. We found that one of the wipers was too large, so he pulled it off, and we went back inside. We found that I had missed that my car takes two different sizes of wipers. We got the right one, he did the exchange, and then came out into the rain again and installed the second wiper. It was a very pleasant experience. I have been reading Beating The Street by Peter Lynch. He talks about buying stocks in companys that he liked after going into the stores. So out of curiousity, I looked up both of these auto parts stores. Both have had great growth over the last five years. Both expect good growth for the next five years. In both of these case Advance Auto Parts has beaten The AutoZone. AutoZone beats Advance Auto on some other numbers. The stock price on Advance Auto Parts has increased at a much quicker rate than AutoZone’s. The forward P/E of Advance Auto predicts a better increase in price than AutoZone. So between the two I would be more likely to invest in Advance Auto Parts than in The AutoZone. Though I only visited a couple stores and was more impressed with one than the other, maybe this is at least a sign of a good company?