Originally Published: May 24, 2008 9:10 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Lamb Subaru is closing its doors.
Ted Lamb said this week that he is in the process of terminating his Subaru franchise at 828 Gail Gardner Way after selling the vehicles for a quarter of a century.
"Subaru as a stand-alone franchise won't support itself," he said. "I thought I could make Subaru profitable and I thought I could find another franchise such as Volkswagen that would be willing to come to Prescott that's not here today. I was unable to do that."
Lamb said his Nissan dealership is now handling Subaru service issues and selling used cars.
Lamb's decision is a blow to a slumping automotive sector.
Jane Bristol, director of economic development for the city, said vehicle sales are the second-highest tax-generating business sector in the city's economy, behind general merchandise stores.
Bristol said the sales tax revenues from the sector are down 12.86 percent through the first 10 months of the current fiscal year over the same timeframe of the prior fiscal year.
"I think most of the existing dealers are able to weather this downturn," she said. "It happens quite often in their industry."
Bristol said business closures accumulate when economies slow and consumers stop buying big-ticket items.
"It's not going to be sitting vacant for long and, in times like these, that's normally what happens," she said. "Businesses do move on and/or close, and property is redeveloped, and that is a pretty common occurrence in times of recession or economic slowdown."
Lamb believes Subaru sales will not remain dark for long.
"They will find another dealer in Prescott," he said. "They will find somebody that wants to represent Subaru who has a dealership already - whether it be York or Galpin or Tim's or the Honda store - and that will happen very, very quickly. I don't expect it to be 30 days before there is an announcement there is a new Subaru dealer in Prescott. They want their brand represented."
Lamb said Subaru employees will get the opportunity to move to his other dealerships.
Lamb said the slow economy had little to do with his decision.
"We saw a little bit of a dip, but not major," he said. "It's just not strong enough to stand by itself.
Lamb opened the Chevrolet/Cadillac dealership at the intersection of Prescott Lakes Parkway and Highway 69 five years ago and added the Nissan store two years later.
"They are stand-alone franchises and doing well, but that left Subaru by itself," he said.
"Part of that, of course, is a sign of the times, and part of it is an independence of the manufacturers - they want standalone facilities."
Lamb plans to tear down the building on Gail Gardner and he is considering turning the lot into medical offices.
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