The ‘To Rent’ signs are down and have been replaced with signs signalling a use for the Merimbula Market Street retail premises that have stood empty since the building was completed about five years ago.
Con Zurcas, managing director Eden Motor Group, is the inaugural tenant and will use the three shopfronts at the southern end of the CBD as a showroom for his Suzuki and Ford vehicle ranges.
Mr Zurcas emphasised the point that sales would not be conducted on site rather the showroom will provide an opportunity for potential customers to browse at leisure and inspect vehicles free of sales harassment. He expects to have between two and four vehicles on display at any one time.
“Essentially people can come in off the street and look at the vehicles without being harassed by sales, and do it in a comfortable environment.”
A hostess will be on hand to manage initial enquiry, book test-drive vehicles and vehicle trade-in valuations for customers.
This type of venture is not a first for Mr Zurcas. In 1985 when he had the Doncaster Toyota dealership in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, the mega Westfield Shopping Centre was located opposite. He rented retail space within the centre for a display room and it was successful until the rent leapt from $800 a week to $1200 three years later making it no longer affordable.
Mr Zurcas said he had not seen the concept anywhere else in the world; there were similar style operations but they incorporated a sales aspect.
“I can’t understand why it has not been adopted more widely. The idea is to make the customer the centre of attention, not the dealers, that is not a way to go forward in today’s market.”
Mr Zurcas brushed aside any notion that he was testing the water with his Merimbula venture.
“I am confident in my abilities and confident in the environment. I believe in being proactive; this is not an experiment,” Mr Zurcas said.
Since buying the Fraser Motors dealership on June 28, 2013 Mr Zurcas said he has employed 11 more people bringing total staff numbers to 24.
“It’s a good story for Eden,” he said.