John Leese, owner of Cadillac and Lexus dealerships in Grand Rapids, Mich., says he always wanted to sell nonluxury late-model used vehicles but could never attract those buyers, even with aggressive advertising.
So in September he opened a Thrifty Car Sales used-vehicle store in his former Hummer dealership showroom. The store's former service drive houses Thrifty Car Rental, whose inventory will cycle into Leese's used-car inventory when it is retired from the rental fleet.
Leese says the economy has created demand for mainstream used vehicles. He hopes the Thrifty brand can help him become a player in that arena.
"Now we can cover all income brackets," says Leese, whose used Cadillac and Lexus vehicles sell for about $25,000. "This is better than opening it on my own. Thrifty has a national brand presence; they are a well-run company, trustworthy, and have a good reputation with the public."
Many franchised new-car dealers have operated separate used-vehicle stores for decades. But with the poor economy and a slow recovery in new-vehicle sales, there is a heightened interest in stand-alone used-vehicle operations backed by national brands.