A look at some of the unique dealers we became acquainted with this year.
Gardner Stone, a Ford and GMC dealer in Middlebury, Vt., says his G. Stone Motors "will take anything in trade." Stone has been bartering antiques, livestock and other oddities with car and truck shoppers for nearly 50 years. He says such transactions represent about 20 percent of his sales. Here he makes friends with some pigs he took on a trade-in.
Supporting the troops
Matt Connell's Dodge Country Dodge-Ram store in Killeen, Texas, is near the U.S. Army's Fort Hood. Above, Connell works with a volunteer from the base's Santa Workshop project, which transports toys to military families.
Every day is bring-your-dog-to-work day at Patriot Subaru in Saco, Maine. From left, employees Matt Wheeler, Adam Parsons and Megan Charland take part in a fundraiser for the Animal Welfare Society that the store helped sponsor.
Apple of Elon Musk's eye
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk's ambition to replicate the Apple experience in Tesla factory stores — such as the Natick, Mass., store pictured here -- faced roadblocks from dealer associations in a handful of states. Local authorities in Natick, near Boston, approved Tesla for a dealer license after months of opposition from the state dealers association.
A Schumacher family portrait
Phoenix dealer Werner Schumacher, the son of a Cologne, Germany, Mercedes- Benz truck dealer who came to the United States at 18, works to create a family atmosphere at Schumacher European/Mercedes-Benz. At least once a month he treats the staff to lunch. He also hosts the occasional barbecue when the weather is cool enough to be outdoors in Arizona.
Sporty store is sold after GM rift
Marc Heitz Chevrolet in Norman, Okla., was modeled after a Bass Pro Shops outlet; its showroom had a 45-foot waterfall, an aquarium with local fish species and, to entertain kids, an arcade and imprints of animal tracks on the concrete floor. Only one problem: General Motors said the store didn't meet Chevrolet's new facilities standards, so Heitz sold it to a rival Chevy dealer who said he would comply with GM's rules.
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
The latest Toyota model
Toyota displayed a scale model of its Image USA II dealership prototype at the National Automobile Dealers Association Convention in Las Vegas in February.
Tastes good ... and good for you
An employee cafe at Crevier BMW in Santa Ana, Calif., serves healthful food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.