With the end of the year quickly approaching, many car dealerships are kicking off the holiday season with some family-friendly Halloween festivities.
These events rarely lead directly to additional sales. Instead, they help foster closer relationships between the stores and the communities in which they're located.
Here are some dealerships that create spooktacular fun for kids and adults alike:
Newton Nissan: Gallatin, Tennessee
The dealership's "Trunk or Treat" party is a big deal for this city, which lies about 25 minutes north of Nashville. According to Justin George, preowned vehicle sales manager at Newton Nissan, the dealership expected this year's event, which took place the weekend before Halloween, to draw between 7,000 and 10,000 people.
Newton Nissan teams up with local businesses, churches and radio stations to put on the party. More than 100 cars and trucks dress up in Halloween costumes and community members pass out candy. The entertainment also includes live music, free food and drinks, a bounce house and costume contests. Dealership employees volunteer their help to make sure the event is a success.
As an added bonus for those who attend, Newton Nissan had the Heisman Trophy on display. Visitors could have their photo taken with it. The trophy was on loan to the dealership from Nissan, which is the premier sponsor of the Heisman Trophy Trust.
Hillside Honda: Jamaica, Queens, New York
Hillside Honda has held Halloween parties regularly for the past decade or so, with the exception of 2012, when much of the Eastern seaboard was dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy. This year's event takes place Halloween night on the showroom floor, which will be cleared of cars to give the kids who attend some space to run around.
"We want to give the kids a place to dance and have fun and just enjoy themselves," says Leann Reynolds, assistant business development center manager for Hillside Honda.
According to Reynolds, it's not only the kids who get excited about the event.
"Our employees dress up in fun Halloween costumes, play games with the kids, dance and sing with them — just encourage some fun," Reynolds says. The dealership brings in a magician, a balloon artist and a DJ to help the attendees have a good time. And of course, there's lots of free candy.
Kids enjoy the party, and the parents appreciate having a nice controlled environment for the kids to trick or treat and let loose, Reynolds says.
"We aren't trying to sell cars," she says, "and even though it's the last day of the month, our focus is just to make some kids happy."
Carl Black Kennesaw Chevy Buick GMC: Kennesaw, Georgia
Carl Black Kennesaw Chevy Buick GMC has held annual Halloween parties for more than two decades. It's become a local favorite fall attraction, and always has a great turnout, according to the dealership.
This year saw a free tractor-pulled "Hee Haw Hayride," airbrush artists, a magician, a stilt walker, face painters and balloon artists. The dealership also provides pumpkins for kids to decorate, and has designated trick-or-treat stations.
"We do all sorts of events at the dealership throughout the year," says Nicole Alley, events coordinator. "We love offering people a place to have safe, good family fun." The dealership also offers free concerts and ticket giveaways.
The dealership enlists a local country/classic rock group to provide live music.
McGrath Nissan: Elgin, Illinois
About 40 miles outside of Chicago is McGrath Nissan, which threw its first Halloween event this year. As the day approached, a team led by Molly McGrath, manager of the owner loyalty program and daughter of the company president, started decorating the dealership showroom and filling up car trunks with candy. The all-day party, which featured a costume contest, took place on October's last selling weekend. The end of the month is a time when most dealerships are focused on selling as many cars as possible to meet goals.
"Although our party is being held during business hours, it's not in place to bring us additional sales," McGrath says. "We are just trying to let our community know that we are here, and we want to be a fun place for kids to hang out when celebrating Halloween."
Galpin Honda: Mission Hills, California
Galpin Honda, in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, is no stranger to putting on family-friendly events. In early October, the dealership teamed up with a local radio station and held a free concert at the dealership that was attended by hundreds of happy music lovers.
During Galpin Honda's Halloween event, held October 25 and 26, the dealership gave out free pumpkins, candy and cookies from a pumpkin patch set up on the dealership property.
Other Galpin Motors dealerships had activities and Halloween-themed cars for attendees to check out, including a Volkswagen Mystery Machine that was customized by Galpin Auto Sports, a vehicle customization store that was once home to the MTV show Pimp My Ride.
To find a dealership that knows how to treat shoppers right, please visit Edmunds.com's Dealer Ratings and Reviews.