Construction delays scuttled Kelly Automotive Group’s plan to open a sprawling new Jeep store on 6 acres near Boston last fall. The group then hoped to have the dealership up and running in time for the big Presidents’ Day weekend, but it still wasn’t ready.
The postponements turned out to have some benefits.
Not only did the Lynnfield, Mass., store avoid a head-on collision with the pandemic in the spring, but the 10-month setback let the dealership tailor its layout for the COVID-19 era, allowing for more spacing in the sales and service areas. Spreading things out led to some spots being turned into working spaces that weren’t originally planned to be.
The opening in August, after consumers and businesses adjusted to a new reality and auto plants were running again, cast the company’s $20 million investment in an entirely different light, Kelly COO Brian Heney said.
“We would have had a different mind-set,” Heney told Automotive News. “That would have been more like, ‘Did we make the right decision? Are we going to be able to work through this, are we going to come out of this OK?’ versus actually just having it and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to be just fine.’ ”
The 46,000-square-foot facility, which the group says is the largest standalone Jeep store in the U.S., is among a growing number of dealerships dedicated solely to the rugged SUV brand as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles seeks more exclusivity for it in certain markets.
It’s also one of the first new dealerships entering a world reshaped by the pandemic — one in which many consumers would prefer to work through more of the sales process digitally instead of spending much time in this Jeep palace. But