- A&B Kia of Benwood, West Virginia, has moved its entire operation indoors.
- The dealership, located just off I-70 on a heavily traveled Interstate east-west route, has just opened a purpose-built 130,000-square-foot all-indoor facility.
- With the advantage that, in the words of owner Mike Ferns, it's "summertime all the time" inside, A&B Kia never loses an opportunity because shoppers come indoors for new and used car sales, plus service, all under one roof.
BENWOOD, West Virginia — September 23 marks the first full day of autumn, but at A&B Kia, there will be no change in the weather. That's because the full-service Kia dealer, in business since 1992, has just opened a completely indoor dealership that houses new and used vehicles, plus the service department, all under one roof.
General Manager Dave Ellis told Edmunds that the main showroom is big enough to hold 200 new and used vehicles so "we don't run out of space." The owners of A&B Kia came up with the idea, he said, after the dealership outgrew a previous indoor showroom space.
How does this go over with prospective buyers?
Ellis said customers "love shopping inside. The cars are always clean, and the temperature is 70 degrees all year round."
But it's also an advantage for the dealer, since, as Ellis told Edmunds: "The customers have to come in to see the cars and not just drive around the lot and drive off without talking to a salesperson, so in return we close more deals."
A&B Kia is thinking of its customers in more ways than the comfort of the dealership setting. It does community-minded promotions such as zoo ticket giveaways and the ambitious Charity Monday, in which people are asked to like the A&B Kia Facebook page to be entered to win a $100 donation to the charity of the winner's choice.
The dealer's online following has built to more than 46,500 Likes. Ellis said the dealership's online presence is strong and "very searchable. We get a high volume of hits on our Web site, and we have a lot of events on site to bring customers in."
To add a little fun and, most likely, a lot of noise to the indoor showroom, A&B Kia has a gong that buyers get to sound when they make a purchase.
A&B Kia may not be in a big town — Benwood has a population of 1,400 — but it's adjacent to the somewhat larger town of Wheeling. More importantly, it's located along I-70 on a well-traveled east-west route between Ohio and Pennsylvania, about an hour southeast of Pittsburgh.
Edmunds says: It may not be the North Pole, but with 36 inches of average annual snowfall and an equal amount of annual rainfall in the area, what a good idea to take those Kias indoors permanently.