Every spring, metro car dealers empty their lots and drive their vehicles over to the fairgrounds. This year, the 36th annual Spring Fairgrounds Sale with six participating dealers reported a banner event.
“This was our best year ever,” said Edwin Vickery, general manager of the Herrin-Gear Autoplex, originator of the fairgrounds sale. “Of 270 vehicles sold out of the autoplex, more than 60 were Chevrolet trucks.”
The sales staff of about 45 moved the entire lot across the interstate, he said.
“We all pitched in,” he said. “But since we’re located right across the street, it wasn’t that bad.”
From used cars selling for $495 to high-end Lexus automobiles at $60,000 to $70,000, more than 3,000 new, used and program cars, trucks, vans and sport utilities were wheeled into the State Fairgrounds off High Street in Jackson. Fifteen on-site financial lenders camped out and offered rates as low as .9% interest. Dealer incentives of huge factory rebates and discounts on 2000 models drew crowds to check out the huge inventory.
But not all dealers shared enthusiasm about the semi-annual event.
Larry Cruise, president and dealer of Fowler Buick in Jackson, said one reason they did not participate in the Spring Fairgrounds Sale was because it “wasn’t our turn.”
“The dealers that go in the spring rotate with the dealers that go in the fall,” Cruise said. “For example, the group that went this spring will not go back until the fall of 2000.”
But there’s another reason Fowler Buick has opted to pass on the Fall Fairgrounds Sale.
“We’ve been in every fairgrounds sale since they’ve existed and we feel that we sell as many cars whether we go down there or not,” he said.
“A primary reason we decided not to participate was because we found that a lot of our long-time customers held off buying an automobile until we came back to the dealership from the fairgrounds,” he said. “We felt like we could do just as well at the dealership without spending the extra money.”
Cruise also said some consumers might perceive the fairgrounds sales negatively.
“The fairground sales seems to have turned into strictly a used car sale, mainly a lower-price, secondary financing type sale,” he said.
Bobby Craighead, Watson Quality Ford new car sales manager, said a record number of cars — more than 250 — were sold during the 10-day sales period that started May 7 and ended last Saturday.
“We sold a few more new cars than used ones, but we were happy,” Craighead said. “We wish we could have done more, but everybody wishes that.”
Craighead said they moved all but a few vehicles in their inventory of about 1,000 to the fairgrounds because “the Spring Fairgrounds Sale works.”
“We’ve participated every year, usually twice a year, and this year we are just participating in the spring sale,” he said. “We brought a lot of trade-ins back with us this time. Some of our best sellers were Explorers, Expeditions, and F150 Supercabs.”
Roy Stickman, manager of Blackwell Dodge, reported the best fairgrounds sales in the history of the Dodge dealership.
“We feel real good about what Daimler-Chrysler is doing for us since Daimler, which is Mercedes, took over the Chrysler-Dodge division,” Stickman said. “Dodge has been famous for their trucks, and earned its reputation from trucks, but this fairgrounds sale netted a lot of car sales — Intrepids, Neons, Stratuses.”
Stickman said selling 160 vehicles was “definitely worth” moving the entire lot to the fairgrounds.
Stickman said that Durangos, “hot as a pistol utility vehicles,” were the best sellers this spring.
Other participating dealers included Hallmark Toyota, Van Trow Oldsmobile and Metro Imports.