After more than 30 years as a Mazda car lot, Thompson Automotive has made the decision to transform that lot into a used cars supercenter.
Thompson Used Cars, as the lot is now called, located at 900 Merritt Blvd., opened in 1984. The business itself has been family-owned and operated since 1929, when it opened as a gas station. Since then, it has grown into one of Dundalk’s most recognizable new and used car dealers.
Joe Lyons, director of operations at Thompson Used Cars, said the decision was made to break from Mazda because the car maker has moved to building more premium-priced vehicles, such as luxury vehicles, over recent years. Thompson Automotive wants to provide Dundalk consumers with more affordable vehicles.
“We had to analyze that and where we are, and this is the decision we made,” Lyons said. “We think we can benefit ourselves and the community much better by doing this.”
Leo Hojnowski, a general sales manager at Thompson Automotive, said 30 percent of their current inventory is priced below $10,000. Another 30 percent is priced between $10,000-$15,000.
“We’re going to focus on stuff that is $15,000 or less,” Hojnowski said. “That kind of stuff, and a quality product at that price point is hard to find in the marketplace. That’s what we want to focus on.”
Lyons said the company’s leadership has thought about making this transition to a used car lot for “quite some time.” When the COVID-19 pandemic came, forcing state and local governments to spring into action and develop plans to mitigate the spread of the virus, the time was right to make the switch, he said.
“With the way the used car market has increased over the last year, what we’re bringing here is a full-fledged used car operation,” said Ron Thompson, vice president of Thompson Automotive Group. “Everything is just like a new car dealership, but it’s a used car dealership.”
“This will be full-fledged because the amount of cars now is broke down compared to how new (cars) and used (cars) were selling. It’s a big market, and we want to get into it bigger than we have been.”
Lyons said that company wide, the ratio of new car sales to used car sales currently sits at 2:1 in favor of new cars. Thompson Automotive Group wants to sell one used car for every new car that is sold, he said, or even flip the ratio so it’s 2:1 in favor of used cars.
Thompson Automotive has been open since 1929, according to Hojnowski. It originally opened as a gas station named Try-Me Service Station, founded by first owner Edmund Thompson. The Try-Me Service Station managed to survive the Great Depression, with Edmund Thompson using a strategy to build a loyal customer base. He used that same business philosophy to go into automotive sales, marking the birth of Thompson Automotive Group.
He started with used cars, and by 1937, he was selling new cars. Thompson Automotive Group saw steady growth throughout the years. The company moved into a new, bigger building in 1940.
The building that houses the Thompson Used Cars lobby, showroom and staff offices opened in 1984. The change from Thompson Mazda to Thompson Used Cars went into effect on July 1.
Thompson Used Cars is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-8 p.m., and on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Those who wish to contact the sales department can call 855-449-0301.