St. Pete’s first luxury and classic car storage center debuts • St Pete Catalyst

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Engines roared as car enthusiasts surrounded classic cars inside 1900 13th Ave. N., a former crossfit gym that has been flipped into Car Locker – St. Pete’s only combined luxury car storage facility, detailing and consignment shop. 

Founders Roger Thrun and his son Sam celebrated the opening of Car Locker Friday evening with cars from convertibles to classic Porsches lining the 30 lifts against the walls inside the 13,000-square-foot-plus, climate-controlled storage facility. 

Roger, a five-time cancer survivor, moved from Wisconsin to St. Petersburg roughly seven years ago to spend time in the sun with his family. 

He is the founder and CEO WHR Global, a global employee relocation provider based outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin that works with Fortune 100 corporations. 

Four years ago, Roger purchased the 13th Avenue warehouse building that housed a crossfit gym without a concrete vision for the property – that was until he purchased a Porsche from Josh Kramer at European Performance. 

Sam (center left) and Roger Thrun, founders of Car Locker, and St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce members celebrate the grand opening. 

“There really wasn’t a place to store your car, and we started looking at these towers going up and some people have up to three cars,” Roger told the St. Pete Catalyst. “There’s a good group of enthusiasts and we saw the opportunity. These aren’t just expensive assets for people, they [represent] memories.” 

Roger doesn’t have a traditional automotive business background, but he described his family line as having the entrepreneurial spirit in their blood, as his mother and father had businesses in Chicago, where Roger spent his childhood. 

  

“I want this to be St. Pete’s car storage, I want a business that will survive and isn’t a franchise,” Roger said. 

Roger’s son Sam, who has the title of co-founder and general manager at Car Locker, was a first responder and EMT serving the area for the past five years, through Sunstar and Manatee County Search and Rescue. His service with the Search and Rescue team brought him to back to the St. Pete community to assist in missing person cases, according to the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “I’ve spent a lot of time taking care of people and I plan on doing that here,” Sam said. 

 

He and Roger noticed the specific area was underserved and also looked at other neighborhoods, including Kenwood, before pressing the gas on the major $2 million flip. 

The Thruns worked with Scott Ferris at Tampa-based Axis One Construction Company as the general contractor to reinforce the walls inside the building and convert it into Car Locker. 

 

The permitting process for the project took over a year due to the Covid pandemic. Roger said longtime St. Pete real estate attorney Don Mastry with Trenam Law was instrumental in the permitting process. 

An exterior mural created by the Vitale Brothers at Car Locker’s building.  

An outside mural created by the Vitale Brothers highlights iconic landmarks and businesses such as Haslam’s Book Store, Derby Lane and Ferg’s as well as European Performance and Realistic Auto Restorations, which is providing Car Lock’s storage customers with mechanical work on their vehicles. 

 

The slogan “Removing the B.S. so you can Enjoy Your Ride!” can be seen on the front of the building – the Car Locker specializes in maintaining people’s luxury vehicles, ensuring a hassle-free experience. 

In 30-60 days, the detailing service will be added. Car Locker currently has five employees and is hiring detailers. 

Car Locker is one of several businesses coming online in St. Petersburg that are solely dedicated to the car collector community. 

Motocave Tampa Bay – St. Pete’s first-ever car condo community – is underway at the northeast corner of Interstate 275 and Gandy Boulevard, as well as Elite Garage Suites at 2350 20th Ave. North.