The last new-car dealership near Downtown is moving to the suburbs. Byers Chevrolet, now at 555 W. Broad St., will move new-car sales in the fall to a new showroom near I-71 and London-Groveport Road in Grove City.
March 20, 2014
The last new-car dealership near Downtown is moving to the suburbs.
Byers Chevrolet, now at 555 W. Broad St., will move new-car sales in the fall to a new showroom near I-71 and London-Groveport Road in Grove City.
The shift will take place in November, said George Byers Kauffman, vice president of Byers Auto Group.
"Grove City is an untapped market in my opinion," he said. "It's kind of that apple pie kind of community."
The W. Broad Street space will continue to house Byers' body shop and wholesale parts business " for the foreseeable future," he said.
Byers Chevrolet has been the only new-car store in or near Downtown since 2008, when Graham Ford closed.
This move completes a transition that has been taking place for several decades as dealers moved from Downtown to the region's growing suburbs. Among the others that made such moves were Hugh White Honda and Byers Chrysler, which are now on the Far West Side and Whitehall, respectively.
"When it actually comes time to buy a car or service a car, (shoppers) just want something that's convenient to them, and a Downtown location is just not convenient," said Matt Jones, an account executive for Edmunds.com, a website for car buyers, who manages the site's relationships with central Ohio dealers.
Another issue is visibility.
Many dealerships are located along I-270, where they are seen daily by commuters.
"A Downtown dealership on Broad Street is just not going to get you the eyeballs," Jones said.
Kauffman said he will miss selling cars close to Downtown. His company has operated at that address since 1982.
"I grew up running around that store," he said. "I have some emotional attachment to it."
He praised his staff for maintaining sales at the store at a time when customers have become accustomed to buying cars closer to where they live.
"It's time to turn a new page," he said.
Byers Auto Group is one of the largest dealer groups in the region, selling more than a dozen brands at various locations.
The new Chevrolet store will be the only new-car franchise within the borders of Grove City, although others might follow. Right now, the closest cluster of auto retailers is near I-270 and Georgesville Road on the Far West Side.