Volkswagen has a new home in Colorado Springs.
Veteran automobile dealer Bob Penkhus purchased the Volkswagen franchise from Heuberger Motors Inc. and began operations as a Volkswagen dealership Aug. 3.
“Subaru offered Heuberger incentives to become an exclusive Subaru dealer,” Penkhus said. “They had the VW franchise for 53 years, so I’m taking over a franchise that has a long legacy in Colorado Springs with one family.”
Since the switch, Penkhus has sold a car a day on average.
“We’re on track for an incredible month,” he said. “VW has brought a lot of business, not only in sales but in service business, to our store.”
The new VW dealership owner is happy with the way the deal worked out, saying his business dealings with Gunnar Heuberger went well, and he hasn’t experienced any surprises during the transition.
Penkhus also had to garner approval from Volkswagen, as well as Volvo and Mazda, the other franchises he operates at the Motor City location.
“What I’m really excited about are the VW owners,” Penkhus said. “They are a passionate group of people who are excited about the performance, engineering and handling of their cars.”
The Bob Penkhus dealership is emphasizing the new VW TDI Turbo Diesel, a specialized car that gets 54 miles per gallon in fuel efficiency while still remaining zippy.
Beating the national trend
As reports of job cuts and rising unemployment dominate the news, shoppers nationwide continued their sluggish spending habits during July.
The international Council of Shopping Centers reported U.S. chain store sales shrunk 5 percent year-over-year for the month — which comes on the heels of June’s 5.1 percent drop.
The continued downward trend has retailers worried about the all-important back-to-school shopping season.
But relief may be in sight.
The ISCS predicts August sales will decline just 4 percent as the economy improves. And locally, shopping centers seem to be in better shape than their nationwide counterparts.
“We’ve seen a much more stabilized environment, largely I think because of our military presence,” said David Moss, general manager of Chapel Hills Mall. “Overall, for the year, we’re slightly down, but have held steady. Traffic in the mall was up the last two weeks of July and many retailers saw a nice uptick for the second half of the month.”
Promenade Shops at Briargate General Manager Jennifer Crowley said shopping center guidelines allow tenants one month to report sales figures, so July numbers weren’t available. But she did say that same-store sales were up 1 percent for June.
The shopping center has welcomed several new stores during the last year, including an Apple retail store, Ann Taylor Loft, Portrait Innovations, Bath and Body Works and LV Nails and Spa, so it’s difficult to draw comparable sales conclusions.
“Our June sales were up 16 percent compared to last year, but without those new stores, we probably wouldn’t see an increase,” she said. “We’ve had good leasing timing and are weathering the perceived recession very well.”
Crowley does compare the shopping center’s nationally owned tenants with other stores in the same chain.
“I am not concerned with the national numbers,” she said. “Briargate is healthier than what is occurring nationally.”
Scott Prater covers retail for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.