• Dec 29, 2009
One needn't be an Autoblog regular to be aware of the fact that the car industry has taken quite a drubbing over the past few years. The slump in our nation's economy has slaughtered sales, leading automakers to shutter thousands of dealerships nationwide. Chrysler Group LLC slashed 789 franchises in June of this year. General Motors has said it will cut 2,400 retail locations of its own by next fall.

With empty dealerships littering the country and a depressed real estate market adding to the opportunity, the Associated Press notes that America's once gleaming new car showrooms are increasingly being converted into food banks, restaurants, day care centers, private residences, and more. Typical automotive showrooms are built sturdy to house heavy vehicles and accommodate high foot traffic. They offer countless windows for plenty of natural light and are generally centrally-located within a commercial community for visibility reasons. In a nutshell, they are near-perfect locations for many entrepreneurs and businesses.

In Oregon, a Catholic Community Services organization runs a food bank warehouse inside a former showroom. In St. Louis, an old dealership is now a classy wedding venue. In Los Angeles, at Golden Bridge Yoga, the aroma of incense has replaced that "new car smell" in a relic automotive showroom. The incessant noise of customers haggling over pricing is gone and the perimeter is no longer strung with posters of shiny late model sedans. The only drone heard today are that of percussive Eastern rhythms... while solemn prayer flags adorn the former showroom walls.

Turning car sales points into new, non-automotive businesses is a trend that's likely to accelerate well beyond the Naughties, so check out the link below to learn more about it, and be sure to drop a line in Comments if you've seen any particularly creative dealership repurposing in your neighborhood.

[Source: Associated Press | Image: Spencer Platt/Getty]


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  • 21 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      you can make them into Goverement housing apartments or schools.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sea Urchin puts his foot in his mouth quite often.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Which, more often that not, ends up with us putting our collective foot up his ass.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The old Toyota/Chrysler dealership here turned into the town's new convention center.

        • 5 Years Ago
        must be a realy small town or a realy big dealership...


        ...or rather small conventions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope they do get turned into Yoga studios, so when I go past them I can say "I'd take HER for a test drive!"
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hopefully they keep the big windows.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These are each huge businesses waiting to happen. Honestly, even when the business comes back, the distribution model is drifting away from huge retail spaces. Building business around these high profile locations is the ticket.

      Get working people.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "he distribution model is drifting away from huge retail spaces" that would mean that dealer will not have a car that you like and you would have to have a factory order, which is great, you get exactly the car you want and dealer gets a guaranteed profit. But from what i understand the wait time could be up to 15 weeks on popular cars, at least that is what a Chevy dealer told me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Forget repurposing the space ... I'm still waiting for the day when Plymouth gets taken off at the local auto mall sign here.

      Not talking about a dinky town either ... this in a city with over 160k residents.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know of one turned into a retail store, and a couple turned into flea markets. And another that just reopened as a diesel performance shop.

      I say they make a great martial arts studio, as well. Plenty of room.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They would make great micro breweries. Have the show room become the brew pub, the service dept can be the warehouse and brewery area.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I know one that became an H1N1 vaccination clinic.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Urine, so you called a dealer looking for a price on a car that everyone here knows you're not going to buy. Are you that friggin nuts? Or better yet, are you actually that dumb that you think you would actually get a better deal over the phone v. going into the dealer in person? This is unbelievable. Did you take a short bus to school?

        Here's your sign.
        No, better yet you need two.
        • 5 Years Ago
        So let me get this straight. Because they didn't give you invoice or below for a car they can sell for more, they are going out of business instead of going for a profit? SU, your logic is flawed. If you "know for a fact" you can get it cheaper, call someone else, or buy something else. But don't be a wuss and cry because some dealer an hour away didn't lay down to your whims over the phone.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sea Urine, why are you replying to me (given his reply has nothing to do with what I said)? Can't deal with the blow of being a 'late poster'?
      • 5 Years Ago
      When I think of dealerships closing ins America, I think of all the Jerry Lundegaards out there.

      Go do a lot count, Jerry!
      • 5 Years Ago
      A local Hummer dealer here turned into a VW dealership. Well almost, I don't think it's quite done being remodeled yet.

      I know that's not what you're looking for, but around here, that's all I've seen. There is another closed Chrysler/Jeep shop that is still vacant.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sure that Plymouth sign is a collectors item.

      If it wasn't for the attached real estate, I'd love an old smaller Chrysler dealer like the one pictured. Rebuild the showroom into a house (of course get around the glass wallthing somehow), and use the service area as the ultimate garage!!!!
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