While others close, Oakland dealership opens


It was opening day Friday at Superior Toyota in Oakland -- the unveiling of a brand new dealership when many others are closing.

Ellis Brooks Chevrolet in San Francisco will close its doors Monday after nearly 70 years.

"Obviously we need to market, we need to increase our market share," says Jeff Caruso, general manager of the sprawling new Toyota lot. It actually represents a move from an old location in Alameda.

They're hoping to sell 400 cars per month.

"We've moved out to the 880 freeway to expose ourselves to a much larger market, make ourselves a lot more convenient to the public," says Caruso.

Walnut Creek Ford has been open for 22 years. Store manager Stephanie Malone hopes to benefit from the closure of other Ford stores, including Broadway Ford in Oakland.

"Ford worked on consolidating dealerships all this year. Their goal was to cut back dealerships so that the dealerships that had been around for a long time were more profitable. They had better business, they had more customers coming in as opposed to having dealerships on every other block," says Malone.

Ford paid $700,000 incentives to dealers who closed. More than 150 did just that in 2008 before the program ran out of money in September.

The hope is the consolidation will help those that remain. Each day a car sits on the lot, costs go up.

"It's a consistent flow of vehicles that are coming in that we need to move on a regular basis," says Malone.

At the new Toyota dealership, besides cars, they're trying to sell potential buyers on the fact that their new facility is environmentally friendly.

"It's California's first green dealership," says Caruso. "We used all recyclable materials that could be used to build the dealership."

That kind of green is good. The currency kind keeps the doors open.

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