"If you've never owned a golf cart, you don't know what you're missing," says Fat Boys Golf Carts owner Steve Smallwood. "Once you get one, it's hard to do away with it."
The golf cart shop, located off the Access Road, is known for its custom designed golf carts and its speedy service center.
"When people bring their carts in to be serviced, they want it turned around as quickly as possible," explained Smallwood. "You get used to the convenience really quickly."
Smallwood discovered his interest in golf carts after purchasing some rental property from Ocean Lakes Campground in Myrtle Beach, S.C. He saw how the community used golf carts to visit neighbors and go to community events.
"In a car, you pass someone going 35 or 45 mph," said Smallwood. "You may get to wave at them, but that's about it. A golf cart is more people friendly."
Smallwood returned to Covington and began building a handful of golf carts with his daughter Cindal. Just for fun, he advertised them outside of the convenience stores he owned at the time. By 2004, the interest in their golf carts grew large enough for Smallwood to open Fat Boys Golf Carts.
The business offers wholesale cart services, which include reconditioning and/or custom designing golf carts, along with top-of-the-line service parts and accessories. Fat Boys also boasts a service and repair shop, run by certified technicians. In addition, Fat Boys also provides a rental service, allowing customers to rent carts by the day, week or month.
Smallwood believes the interest in golf carts stems from its versatility, as customers use it for hunting, ranches and horse farms. The cart is also more convenient; instead of using a four-wheeler for hunting, a golf cart would allow the hunters to move through the woods quietly. Families in a subdivision could just hop on a cart and head to the pool.
"It brings an intimate, feeling within the community," said Smallwood. "In a golf cart, you can meet everybody."
In 2008, the city of Covington passed an ordinance allowing residents to drive a golf cart on designated city streets along with regular traffic, bringing more interest to the business. From selling a handful of golf carts outside of the convenience stores, Fat Boys currently sells about 3,000 to 4,000 carts a year.
Recently, the business opened its second location at Myrtle Beach. As Smallwood plans to devote much of his time develop the new store, he hopes to open another in the near future.
Fat Boys is also known to participate in several community activities, often donating their carts and services to events like the Fuzz Run and the Cemetery Walk.
"Basically, we're a family business, but we keep it low-key around here," said Smallwood.