BAY SHORE, N.Y.-Last August, Wholesale Tire Co. decided it was time to consolidate its three Farmingdale, N.Y., warehouses and main office into one building that also offered more total storage space. Moving the office and warehouses-which were situated along with a profitable retail store in a Farmingdale industrial park-to a larger site in nearby Bay Shore made sense, because the company's wholesale, commercial and retail operations had been growing for the past three years, according to Phil Burke, vice president of retail operations.
Less obvious, perhaps, was the wisdom of moving the Farmingdale retail store to a new lot only an eighth of a mile from its former location.
It didn't take long to realize the benefits of the move, however.
Year-to-date sales figures show the store's sales are up 15.2 percent over 1992, and the company believes the Farmingdale store has the potential to post $3 million in retail sales by the end of the year.
And those improved numbers are largely the result of a move of about 300 yards into a newly constructed, 10,000-sq.-ft. store that now rests on a major Farmingdale thoroughfare.
``I have to attribute much of that (sales increase) to the location,'' Mr. Burke said.
Actually, Mr. Burke had an indication as early as opening day, that the WTC Auto Service store would do well in its new location after the store's manager introduced him to a customer who had just purchased a set of tires.
``(The customer) had never heard of WTC Auto Centers or Wholesale Tire Co.,'' Mr. Burke said, recalling the incident. ``That was the first time he came here, and the only reason he stopped here was he noticed the store was being built over the past month or so (July 1993) and he waited until we were open to buy tires.
``He thought we were new. He didn't realize we had been in business for 23 years less than a quarter of a mile away.''
What was particularly frustrating for Mr. Burke, however, was that the customer was a ``well dressed, professional who worked in a financial district about five miles north'' of Farmingdale-a discriminating buyer interested in more than ``just the lowest price.'' In other words, someone WTC tries to attract with its $1.5 million local advertising budget.
Although the customer read newspapers daily, he wasn't one to turn to the sports section where WTC concentrates most of its ads. And, although he commuted through Farmingdale every workday, he couldn't see the former WTC Auto Center tucked away in its former industrial park hideaway.
For that type of customer, Mr. Burke noted, location might be one of the most important factors in choosing a tire store.
``It makes me feel good about the move, but at the same time, I was frustrated that over the past 23 years, he had never heard of us,'' Mr. Burke said.
That, of course, has changed since the move.