Going Local: Bill’s Key & Lock Shop
Bill’s Key & Lock Shop has been a fixture in the Bloomington-Normal community since 1976. After starting in the basement of the Janet Hayslip Dance Studio on Beaufort Street in Normal, today Bill’s has two locations in Uptown Normal and Downtown Bloomington.
“We serve the entire McLean County area but also go as far as LaSalle-Peru and north of Pontiac,” said Andy Streenz, who owns and operates the business along with his father, Bill Streenz.
Andy grew up in the business but has been working there full-time since 1995. He noted that there are many entry barriers in the locksmith business. Locksmiths must pass exams and obtain a license through the state of Illinois. “We’ve gained a lot of trust in the business and that has helped make us successful,” Andy told AdaptBN.
“Seventy-five percent of our business is outside of our building, which means we travel to our customers,” Andy said. The company currently has nine employees and five service vans.
“Student apartments are a big part of our business. I’d say it’s 40% of our revenue.” Andy also noted that business is extremely busy during the week before “move in” begins at Illinois State University.
Andy says one of his biggest challenges is keeping up with customer demand in the automotive field. Even though keys as we know them are disappearing from cars, vehicles will always have some kind of key or fob (a small programmable hardware device that provides access to a physical object) to open and operate them. New technology means Bill’s Key & Lock Shop always needs new equipment, software and training.
The business will move to a new storefront in May 2018.
1209 N. Clinton Blvd., Normal
In May 2018, the company will relocate to 1509 N. Clinton Blvd. in Bloomington, just one block from Division Street, which separates Bloomington and Normal. “The new location will be bigger than both of the current locations combined and have very convenient parking,” Andy said.
One of the first things customers will notice in the lock shops’ showrooms is Bill Streenz’s erector sets. Erector sets are metal construction sets that were created by the A.C. Gilbert Company in 1913. The sets remained popular through the late 1960s.
Both Bill and Andy played with erector sets as young boys. Over the last 18 years various erector sets have been set up in the showrooms at both store locations. Andy says the erector sets will continue to be a part of the new showroom at the Clinton Blvd. building.