By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – During its nearly three-decade-old existence, the Blackmon Chevrolet dealership on South Gloster Street has been through many changes.
But none have been bigger than what recently has been completed – a year-long remodeling of nearly every inch of the dealership, a capital investment totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“Over the years, there were three renovations,” said Dwayne Blackmon, for whom the dealership is named. “This is by far the most extensive.”
When his father, Frankie, opened the Chevrolet dealership in 1985, the building wasn’t new – it had been built in the early 1970s. In addition to selling the iconic General Motors brand, the dealership also sold Mercedes-Benz.
“Then we added Geo and later Yugo, until they went out,” Dwayne Blackmon said. “In 1995, Mercedes realigned their franchises, moving out of smaller markets. So since then, we’ve been just a Chevy dealership.”
It was Frankie Blackmon Chevrolet until Frankie retired in 2010. The dealership then was renamed Dwayne Blackmon Chevrolet.
And if there was an automobile brand to latch onto, it’s Chevy. It was, and is, GM’s best-selling brand.
Today, it makes up 70 percent of GM’s overall sales.
Chevy has long been the Detroit-based automaker’s vehicle for middle America, offering a line of cars, trucks and SUVs.
And some sporty iterations like the Camaro and Corvette, of course.
In April, Chevy’s sales were up 11 percent compared to the same month in 2012. For the first four months of the year, Chevy’s total sales are up 6.4 percent compared to last year.
“It’s great to have a full line of vehicles like that to be able to sell,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon started the latest remodeling project about a year ago, and there’s hardly an inch of the place that hasn’t been touched.
“We’ve painted, changed ceiling tiles, changed light fixtures, changed the furniture, added a guest lounge, a refreshment center… we’ve done a lot,” he said.
New rest rooms, new flooring, new carpeting and new awnings also have been added.
Across the street, Blackmon’s pre-owned vehicle dealership also has been remodeled. The most noticeable change, at least on the dealership’s main building exterior, is the new blue Chevy archway entrance.
Buying a vehicle is more about a “customer experience” these days, and Blackmon said it was the major focus of the renovation efforts. Customers expect exemplary service on the sales floor, the parts department, the service department and everywhere in between.
The renovation at the dealership isn’t all that’s happening on South Gloster Street, however.
The long-awaited five-laning of South Gloster Street via the Major Thoroughfare Program nears completion. In addition, Highway 6 soon will connect to the busy roadway.
“Chevy’s new tagline is ‘find new roads,’ which is appropriate,” Blackmon said with a laugh. “It just so happened we’re doing all our work the same time these roads are being worked on.”
Blackmon said the timing of all the work couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Chevy is launching 13 new models over the next few years, including the new Silverado pickup truck later this month.
The new Impala was unveiled last month. Customer interest, Blackmon said, is high.
“Chevy has a lot of things going on, and we’ve got a lot of things going on, too” Blackmon said. “South Gloster is indeed alive.”