As sales improve, Lisbon car dealer demolishes dilapidated building

LISBON – The former Chevrolet dealership is getting a major facelift the owners believe will pay dividends because of improved visibility.

The old gas station that has been at the front of what is now Elkton Auto Corral was torn down on Friday by owner Jay Mullen, who said elimination of the dilapidated structure not only eliminates an eyesore but improves visibility of the business for motorists passing by on East Lincoln Way.

“It was just in the way before,” he said of the gas station. “Now you can see us.”

Believed to have built in the 1930s, the gas station was last operated as a BP facility in the 1970s before it was purchased and made part of the dealership when it was Lewis Chevrolet.

Mullen and his wife, Susan, purchased the former Quinn Chevrolet dealership at auction in late August and relocated their used-vehicle business, the Elkton Auto Corral, to the site in November.

Until recently, business remained at about the same level as when they were located in Elkton, which obviously concerned the Mullens.

“I wasn’t selling any more cars than I was in Elkton … Of course, it was the holidays and we were competing against Santa,” he said.

Things began to change several weeks ago and business has remained steady ever since, which Mullen attributed in part to the fact people have begun receiving their income tax refunds. He also credited advertising and word-of-mouth about the move.

“This past Saturday it was standing room only. We were here until 5:30 (p.m.) and we normally close at 3:30,” he said.

The Mullens are hoping to build on that by removing the gas station, suggested by a friend of theirs who works for Smith Oil, which has a gas station a half-block up the street from the dealership. The friend told them 33,000 vehicles per day travel East Lincoln Way, and the first thing they needed to do was improve visibility and parking in the front of the dealership by getting rid of the gas station building.

Mullen said the move will not only improve the dealership’s appearance but allow him to put more vehicles on display along the heavily traveled East Lincoln Way. Elkton Auto Corral currently has 70 vehicles on the lot, and he said their goal is to reach 100. They also plan to begin selling their low-end vehicles from their Elkton location.

The dealership’s service area will soon be open to the public for general maintenance, such as oil changes and brake jobs, once they hire a certified mechanic. “I want to offer our customers a full range of services, and I’m going to have a first-class service area by this summer,” Mullen said.

They are already providing full detail work to the public, and anyone wanting to get a price can call 330-424-6633.

Hanging above Mullen’s desk is a framed poster from the 1980s film “Tucker” starring Jeff Bridges, which the true story of Preston Tucker and the obstacles he faced while trying to start a automobile manufacturing business in the 1940s to compete with GM, Ford and Chrysler. He loves the movie because of how Tucker maintained his indefatigable entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity.

“He went up against the big three,” Mullen said, gesturing toward the poster. “He’s a very inspirational person.”