Costco is bullish on Lodi. So is Kohl's. Wal-Mart has been positively resolute in its effort to build a bigger store here.
But it appears the world's second-largest car maker is throwing in the towel on Lodi.
By putting Sanborn Chevrolet and 1,100 other dealers on notice that General Motors will end its relations in October 2010, by refusing to sell Sanborn and these other dealers any 2010 model cars, GM has admitted that it is in retreat — retreating from Lodi, and retreating from its competition with Toyota, Ford and Honda.
Why would any manufacturer close down a sales outlet when sales are down?
"(GM) believes that having fewer, healthier dealers will help it better compete with foreign-based rivals … which tend to have newer, better-financed stores in more attractive locations."
That quote comes from May 16 Wall Street Journal.
If Sanborn closes, it will be good for Chase Chevrolet in Stockton. The bigger, busier dealership will get busier still, and maybe bigger someday. But is that the best outcome for GM?
GM needs to look at Lodi carefully.
When Costco sized us up, they found that we attract shoppers from the foothills, North Stockton, the Delta and Galt. Kohl's must have noticed much the same thing. There's a Kohl's in North Stockton, but it decided earlier this year to move into the vacant Mervyn's store. Wal-Mart is planning a Super Wal-Mart, apparently because they think there's more potential here than their present "regular" store can handle.
We think if GM really studied Lodi, it would find us to be a very attractive location, with a strong "buy GM" streak. In a town of 62,000, there are 22,000 GM cars and several generations of Chevy, Buick, Oldsmobile, GMC truck and Cadillac owners.
Yosh Mataga shuttered his Oldsmobile dealership when GM walked away from the brand. A tough economy forced the closure of the GMC-Cadillac-Buick dealership owned by Dennis Plummer and Mike Theme.
If Dick Sanborn and Dennis Calton shutter Sanborn Chevrolet, some but not all of their business will go to Stockton. GM is bound to lose Lodi market share to Geweke Ford, Geweke Toyota and Lodi Honda.
We wish those dealers well, of course, but GM ought to see smaller towns like Lodi as part of their future as well as their past.
If you resent having to go to Stockton to have your Chevy worked on; if you don't want the sales tax going to Stockton or Elk Grove when you buy your next Chevrolet; if you want to see a wider selection of cars for sale in Lodi — why not write a letter or post a comment on Lodinews.com?
You can write us at Letters, P.O. Box 1360, Lodi, CA 95241. Or you can write GM President Ed Whitacre at P.O. Box 33170, Detroit, MI 48232-5170. He may not read your letter, but if enough letters from Lodi show up, someone is bound to notice.
Or has GM given up on Lodi without a fight?
— Lodi News-Sentinel