In what might have to be considered the mother of all garage sales-especially considering hundreds of garages are actually for sale-the physical resources of Penske Auto Centers Inc. are up for grabs to the highest bidders.
A joint venture between Rabin Worldwide, an auction company billing itself as a provider of ``comprehensive financial solutions for businesses in transition,'' and Enfield, Conn.-based Capital Recovery Group (CRG) will disperse leftover facilities and equipment of the erstwhile largest tire dealership, which closed all its stores last month.
The sale represents perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for tire dealers and automotive service shops to purchase entire stores worth of equipment, according to Bill Firestone, CRG president.
``The advantage here is it's all very late-type equipment,'' said Mr. Firestone, who added the response has thus far been good. ``The equipment is gorgeous. It's all very new and in excellent condition. It's a fantastic opportunity for people to buy this stuff. Something of this scope will never come up again. It's like an enigma. If people want to save money, this is an unbelievable opportunity.''
Mr. Firestone said the two companies are trying to sell the stores before they go to auction June 10. He said CRG and Rabin are compiling lists of people who want to buy existing stores and blocks of stores, and those who may be interested in negotiating with Kmart Corp. to operate stores located inside the national retailer's various locations.
He also said negotiations are under way with buyers interested in purchasing the contents of just one store, which could then be moved to a different location, as well as dealers wanting large amounts of equipment. Among the prospective buyers, Mr. Firestone said, are large national chains, but he would not disclose which ones.
``There are people, let's put it this way, that we're negotiating with that we understand may be interested in equipment and leases,'' he said.
Mr. Firestone said his firm is selling equipment from 608 Penske facilities. Prior to the centers' closure, Penske officials stated there were 562 locations. That number included a stand-alone outlet in Fort Myers, Fla. Mr. Firestone could not account for the disparity, saying his company came up with that number.
Whatever is left over by June 10 will be auctioned off piece by piece, he said. Auctions will take place in five states at that time.
San Francisco-based Rabin lists on its Web site the average six-bay Penske facility as having ``four or more above-ground lifts,'' along with equipment for alignment, tire changing and balancing; air conditioning, charging and recycling; electrical and battery charging and diagnostic; transmission and radiator flushing systems; brake lathes; air compressors and lube reels.
The auction house said all items will be sold in accordance with Rabin's terms of sale which-along with the buyer's premium on all items-are defined on Rabin's Web site, www.rabin.com.
Also included on the site is a list of 26 pieces of equipment available at most locations, along with photos illustrating the various pieces. The site said a more comprehensive list should be available in the future.
For more details on the Penske auctions, call (800) 822-2752, fax (920) 872-2196, email [email protected], or visit Rabin's Web site.
Calls to Penske Corp. for this story were not returned.