Perhaps serving as a model for future locations, Tire Kingdom Inc. has opened its first tire clearance center.
The inaugural facility is in Port St. Lucie, Fla., and will house between 15,000 and 20,000 tires no longer included in Tire Kingdom's model stock plan.
``As most tire companies do, when you change line-ups you get rid of inventory,'' said Aubrey Felton, Tire Kingdom's regional vice president in southeast Florida.
The new clearance center is in a converted Tire Kingdom store.
The retail location was moved to a new building about five miles away, Mr. Felton said.
The clearance center is 6,500 square feet with eight bays. It has a staff of eight, including three in management and sales and five shop staffers.
Mr. Felton said the clearance center currently has enough stock to sustain the store for two or three years with discontinued products alone. The store also will carry Sigma brand tires.
The store, which opened about four months ago, has what Mr. Felton calls a different look from a typical Tire Kingdom location, similar to the distinct appearance of the company's performance center in Jacksonville, Fla. It is also advertised separately from other Tire Kingdom locations.
Mr. Felton said the store was initially expected to move about 500 tires per month.
That number already has been exceeded by 300. He said its potential is to sell nearly 2,000 tires per month, if the store affiliates with car dealers or wholesalers.
``It's unlimited. The potential could be huge,'' he said. ``We're pretty much dealing with just (individual) customers right now.''
Mr. Felton said tentative plans are on the drawing board for similar centers, ``not only in the state of Florida, but throughout our retail chain,'' but said there is no set timetable.
He did say that Tire Kingdom expects to have at least one more by the end of 2002.
Tire Kingdom has a total of 182 stores in the southeastern U.S., including three retail outlets in Port St. Lucie.
Bauer Built Inc. recently completed a relocation/expansion of its tire center in Sac City, Wis.
The Durand, Wis.-based dealership's new location has four bays vs. one at the old. The store covers 9,000 square feet, which includes a larger warehouse.
The Sac City store will offer the same products and services as other Bauer Built locations. The recent upgrade also included new alignment equipment, adding a service to the shop.
The larger store will employ seven, including a manager, sales/service positions, four service people and a clerk, according to Bauer Built President Jerry Bauer.
The 57-year-old commercial/retail dealership and retreader sells Michelin, BFGoodrich, Bridgestone, Firestone, Kumho, Hercules, Mastercraft and Yokohama tires, and offers retreads using the Michelin process.
Trevor Reznor saw valuable space going to waste in his Matthews Tire & Auto Service Center in Green Bay, Wis. So much so that he radically remodeled the place.
Gone is the entire retail portion of the store, where the outlet formerly sold auto parts and supplies. In its place are four new service bays, increasing the number to 10 in the 10,000-square-foot store.
Now the entire shop is dedicated to tires and service and the only parts it sells are those actually associated with auto service.
``It has to do with doing things right,'' said Mr. Reznor, whose dealership is a five-store chain of Goodyear Gemini locations. He employs 80.
Matthews Tire sells Goodyear, BFGoodrich and Uniroyal brand tires.