BANGOR, Maine — Darling's, a multi-brand Maine dealership, celebrates the holiday season in style. Two of its dealerships, Darling's Honda Nissan Volvo in Bangor and Darling's of Augusta, are putting on high-quality holiday light shows for the third consecutive year.
These dealers don't stop with a string or two of festive lights. They've erected a full drive-through experience, in which visitors can tune their car radios to specific local stations to hear a soundtrack to which the light show has been choreographed, including modern interpretations of musical selections like "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy."
Marketing Manager Matt Smith told Edmunds: "The idea originally came out of our marketing department as a way to attract people who were shopping at the nearby mall, but it's grown to be so much more than that."
People come from all over Maine to look at the display, he said.
"On any given night, we have as many as 30" cars going through "and more waiting their turn down the street," Smith said.
Although the dealer doesn't keep an official count, Smith said over 10,000 people stop by the store during the month of December.
"Most of them come through more than once and a lot of them come in to the store to thank us and say Merry Christmas," he said. "It's a great thing for the store and a wonderful way to connect with our community."
"Personally," Smith told Edmunds, "I think it gives people a time to stop and reflect in the midst of the mad scramble to find the perfect gift. One person mentioned that they took an ailing parent to see the show every night and that they cherished the time they spent together, sitting in the car, chatting quietly, reminiscing about the holiday and watching the lights."
Darling's promotes the light show on social media and its Web sites, and local media including the Bangor Daily News have covered it.
"We can't directly tie it to sales," Smith said, "but we know that getting people to the lot is half the battle. If they're driving to our store we think they have a better chance of remembering us when they're ready to buy their next vehicle."
Darling's Auto Group has been in business since 1903 in Maine. It sells 14 brands at six locations: Audi, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Volvo in Bangor; Hyundai, Dodge, and Ram in Augusta; and Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet in Ellsworth.
Edmunds says: No Grinches in this longtime dealer group, that's for sure.